4.326 The Glenlivet Guardians' Chapter: Special Set Menu

-Cycle 4, Item 326-
27 (Wed) November 2013

The Glenlivet Guardians' Chapter: Special Set Menu


at The Glenlivet Guardians' Chapter Tasting Event (penthouse suite 3613) (Conrad Seoul)

-Yeouido, Seoul-

with MtG

The Glenlivet is a single malt Scotch whisky.  Founded in 1824, right after the Excise Act of 1823 allowed for the establishment of legal distilleries in Scotland, the first to get a license in Glenlivet. Accordingly, the corporate slogan: "The single malt that started it all."  Famously, the distillery won the exclusive right to use "The Glenlivet" as its trade name, though other distilleries retain the right to use "Glenlivet" (sans "The") as a geographic appellation.  Located in the renowned region Speyside.  Now owned by conglomerate Pernod Ricard.  Currently the top-selling single malt in the US, second worldwide (after Glenfiddich). 

The tallest revolving doors that I've ever seen.

One of my two all-time favorites (along with Springbank).  At The Auld Alliance in Singapore, where I could only taste so much within time/budgetary constraints, I took the opportunity to try an early 1970s bottling--totally different than the contemporary stuff (see 4.266 (White) Carrot Cake).  I almost always get at least 1 bottle at the duty free shop on any given trip abroad (see most recently 4.302 Stuffed Pigeon...).  Usually the 12-year-old, because it's cheap, but also because I enjoy its effortless elegance.  I often refer to The Glenlivet as "my daily sipping Scotch," and it would be, if more widely available and more affordably priced in Korea.  

The Guardians' Chapter is a marketing campaign launched earlier this year by the distillery.  In a series of tasting events hosted across the world, members of the official fan club--"The Guardians"--as well as select members of the general public, have been invited to sample three experimental expressions--CLASSIC, REVIVAL, EXOTIC--and vote on their favorite.  The expression garnering the most votes will be bottled into a limited edition released sometime next year.  No idea what "Chapter" means in this context.

MtG was contacted by the local representative to participate in the Seoul tasting.  Probably in his capacity as a so-called "power blogger," even though the blog isn't ostensibly about whisky or alcohol or beverage or food or anything at all really.  Anyway, MtG got me in, so I was happy to be riding on his coattails. 

The venue was the Conrad Seoul.  

"The Glenlivet Cooler," an aperitif consisting of The Glenlivet 12 "Excellence" (a slightly richer expression developed for the Asian market) + ginger ale--and yes, they did acknowledge that serving a cocktail before a tasting probably wasn't such a great idea.

A promotional affair to be sure, the evening started off with a slide show about The Glenlivet's history, philosophy, FAQs, etc.  Courtesy of Ian Logan, bona fide Scotsman, global brand ambassador dispatched by HQ.

Ian Logan

Next, taking each expression in turn, the participants were asked to describe any discernible flavors/aromas from the sample.  A picture chart with a variety of typical flavors/aromas was provided as a guideline.  After suggestions from the participants, a slide revealed the Master Distiller's own tasting impressions.

The glass on the far left was the aforementioned "Excellence."

I've always suspected myself as having a sensitive palate, but I had no idea how much so until this evening.  For each sample, I could clearly identify the expression's general motif and then detect specific markers.  CLASSIC: round, sweet butteriness, like vanilla, caramel, nougat--exactly.  REVIVAL: delicate, fresh fruit, like pear, apple--exactly.  EXOTIC: spicy, cooked/dried fruit, like fruitcake, marmalade, raisins--exactly.  As if I were working off a crib sheet.  




Over a decade ago, when I was living in California and obsessed with wine, I'd made a concerted effort to build a sense memory.  Tastings at organized wine events, samplings directly at wineries in and around Napa and Sonoma, and of course sloshings at home and in restaurants/bars, I was recording mental notes.  After awhile, comparing my personal impressions to professional reviews, I began to recognize that, say, the whiff of X in a wine equates metaphorically to "chocolatey" in enological parlance--because obviously the wine doesn't contain any actual chocolate--or Y means "peppery," or Z means "fruity/leathery/whatevery." The self-training must've stuck.

Ultimately, I went with REVIVAL because it seemed to embody best what I love about The Glenlivet, why I drink it more than any other malt; then again, I can see why an out-of-character expression may be more preferable for a limited edition.

On the way home, I couldn't stop gushing.  While MtG dismissed the excitement as obnoxious braggadocio, I was genuinely grateful the long-standing confidence in my gustatory/olfactory faculties had finally been confirmed, the same way that I'll react when I get my Mensa card.  

As for the food, I wasn't very impressed.  Despite the hoity-toity descriptions on the menu and the 1st-year culinary school platings, some incorporating actual whisky from The Glenlivet, the dishes ended up tasting/looking like items from a business-class in-flight meal.  I would've expected more from The Conrad, especially for an event like this.

bread (2.5)

Foie Gras Terrine (2.5) 

Canadian Lobster Bisque (3.5)

Roast Sea Bass (2.0)

Tiramisu (2.5)

I had a blast.  One of the greatest booze-related experiences ever.  Thanks, MtG!

Whatever the outcome of the The Guardians' Chapter voting--at present: CLASSIC/34%, REVIVAL/26%, EXOTIC/39%--I look forward to buying a few/several bottles, if only because I may have been partly responsible for it--exactly what they had in mind.  

Parting gifts: pocket rockets of the 18 and 15.


  1. Next food/drink-related goal: get to know more about wine and/or beer and/or whisky...... Next time I go to Korea I should bring you a bottle of Mackmyra whisky, Sweden thus far only whisky....

  2. better idea: how about you send me a bottle!!! i'll even send you money for it. i'm totally serious.

    i've never tried or heard of swedish whisky! i've had scotch, american, canadian, japanese, thai, philippine, so i'd love to try something new.

    BTW, i finally got around to trying the tube caviar, the post is coming up. please tell me what is the product called in swedish (e.g., "caviar paste"), and what would it be called on toast (e.g., i was thinking of something like "Caviar Canapé")?

  3. Sure thing :) No need to send me money, just send me a package with some vital Korean ingredients in return! I'm spend the Christmas holiday in Stockholm with my family, but I will try to get around to doing in a soon as I get back to Oskarshamn. I also have to get around to start cooking FOR REAL again... This fall I've been to busy getting used to working and actually contributing to society, geting my new apartment in good order etc... But now is the time to learn to cook new dishes again. Korean, Swedish, others.... Let's not let the exchange we have going on go to waste.
    I should go have a look at my NK cookbook again to find at least three recipes that seems somewhat viable...

    Btw when I made bibimbab you told about some cooking utensil/tool I could use to slice/dice vegetables really well/thinly, much much easier than trying to do it with a knife... Do you happen to have one of those utensil/tools in your kitchen, and if so, could you send me a picture of it? I wanna buy one as well! (Really miss bibimbab :) )

    In Swedish it's just called caviar, or "kaviar" written in Swedish :D So in Swedish caviar on toast would be called "kaviarsmörgås" (caviar toast, "smörgås" meaning a toast or an open sandwich).

  4. i can't wait to try the whisky. i'll send you my address via email. thanks!

    and of course anything u need in terms of korean ingredients, just let me know.

    yes, we all need to get off our asses and start cooking again, especially that NK project we've been talking about.

    i haven't even touched the cookbooks from Singapore or Egypt that I bought on my recent trips.

    the device is a mandolin. i'll send photos. i can also send you one. they're very common/cheap here.

    i'll change the name of the post on the caviar.

  5. please do :) But please do not get your hopes too high on the whisky. bear in mind that it is the FIRST whisky company in Sweden, started just a couple of years ago by some whisky enthusiasts...

    in terms of cooking ingredients, I guess the most important one should be 부침가루...not sure what else I would need though...

    I see exactly what you mean.. I have a couple of cookbooks myself which I have barely even touched.. same with a couple of language learning resources that I have purchased and then barely used even once.. It's one thing to THINK you will do something, and something completely different to actually get off your ass and get it done...

    I just bought a mandolin today actually.. So next year I should be able to cook even better bibimbab (and other dishes as well, I presume)

  6. started by whisky enthusiasts, makes me want to taste it even more! nothing to do with high hopes, just something new/different.

    keep a running list of ingredients. i'd suggest 연두, a new seasoning/flavor enhancer, tastes like sweet soy sauce, but a touch of it in various soups or 장조림, and it's like magic.

    i've never used a mandolin for bibimbap. i mainly use ingredients that are naturally stringy.

  7. Good to hear!
    Never heard about 연두 before, so would love to get my hand of some of it...
    As I can remember, the ingredients I had a problem with getting thin enough were carrots, aubergines and cucumbers. Have you never used those when making bibimbab? As far I can remember, you're also not the biggest fan of Korea's internationally most famous dish?

  8. don't worry about the contents of the care package, i'll be sure to send you some great stuff.

    if you want it quick, send me your address by email, so i can send it out before i go to manila. otherwise, you'll have to wait until mid-april at least.

    bibimbap is one of my favorites, actually.

    but, on the rare occasion that i make it from scratch--come to think of it, i've never made it totally from scratch, because there's always at least a couple namul-type items already in the fridge--i keep it real simple, just bean sprouts, spinach, mushrooms, and hobak, none of which require shredding. carrot or cucumber would be fine, of course, just not my thing.

    the only thing that i ever use my mandolin for is for potatoes. i did learn a shredded carrot banchan from our nanny, which i should try.

  9. 1. Good to hear :)
    2. I can easily wait until mid-april. I have already too many korean ingredients that I have to use up (ingredients I have either bought myself or gotten as gifts)
    3. Hobak? 호박? pumpkin in bibimbab?
    4. Please try doing that carrot banchan, when you get the time...

    Btw what about your box from me? Will you or someone from your family be able to pick it up if I send it to your adress in Korea? Since you will be leaving for Manilla soon? Please send me your adress btw...

  10. 3. no, ae hobak, that yellowish squash, which i once taste-tested against zucchini in jeon, for your benefit.

    4. yeah, that carrot banchan would be just perfect for your bibimbap, even though it's really classically korean. give me a couple weeks to settle in in manila, and i'll make it for you there.

    5. let's worry take care of everything in april. when i get your whisky, for example, i'll want to taste it right away, and feature it in a post, so i'll want to be in a position when i can make and pair it with something swedish.

  11. 3. Oh yes, how could I forget? Silly me...
    4. Looking forward to it!
    5. Good good. Then I'll have two things to look forward to in April: the end of winter and coming of spring (hopefully at least) and getting a package from Korea :)