Whisky Advocate

Review: The Glenlivet Cellar Collection, 1973 Vintage

March 17th, 2010

I realize that the price of this whisky is higher than most of you can afford (that includes me), but…

The Glenlivet Cellar Collection, 1973 vintage, 49%, $1,250
A marriage of three casks, one of them an ex-sherry butt. The sherry is certainly evident, and this is more sherried than many of the Cellar Collection whiskies to date. Opulent and seductive, with prominent fruit (glazed spiced orange spices, ripe peach, and hints of pineapple and coconut), caramel-coated nuts, and vanilla custard. A peppering of ginger and cinnamon throughout. Coating, soothing finish. Very polished and seamless, with no trace of excessive oak. One of the richest—and finest—Cellar Collections to date. Anyone willing and able to cough up the bucks for this whisky will be richly rewarded. (Only 240 bottles available in the U.S., beginning June 2010.)

Advanced Malt Advocate Magazine rating: 95

24 Responses to “Review: The Glenlivet Cellar Collection, 1973 Vintage”

  1. Gal says:

    another one we wont buy. why bother?
    this one is even pricier than the diageo range noone wants reviewd…
    so why john? spreading salt on our wounds?

    • John Hansell says:

      It’s my job to cover the full spectrum of whiskies, Gal. My other post today focuses on “must try” whiskies that are reasonably priced and not difficult to find.

      • Marc says:

        PLUS, one day you may just stumble into some cash Gal, and then you’ll know what ultra premium whisky you should buy because John reviewed them for you!

        I don’t understand why there is such a strong sentiment to boycott expensive malts, including the tasting thereof. Yes many of us won’t have the opportunity to try them, but some of us might, and it’s nice to know what is being bottled. Most of us might drive Fords or Hondas, but none of us would decline a ride in a Lambo or Ferrari!

        • Gal says:


          i like to read about malts i can afford and their tasting notes are useful to me in deciding what to buy.
          even if i win the lottery, no change in hell i am paying above 1000$ for any malt. those are just marketing tricks, and i don’t like them one bit.

          whisky is made to be drunk and enjoyed by many people, and not by a handful of old geezers or Oligarchs who don’t give a fart about paying 100’s of dollars for a dram.

          • sam k says:

            I like to read about whisky I can afford, too, but reviews like this make my mouth water, regardless. Would I ever buy this whisky? No, but I’d sure like to know someone who had and was willing to share! Somebody CAN afford this spirit, and John has helped them make THEIR decision. Nothing wrong with that. Time to climb back in my Ford now.

            Carry on, Mr. Hansell!

          • Alex says:

            Rock on Gal! Nothing like a nice rant to take you into the weekend!

      • Duff says:

        Plus.. no more than 240 people in the US will be able to buy one.
        Maybe the reviews of every last whisky should be left to the Whisky Bible.

  2. Red_Arremer says:

    I see that some others are already picking up the price-griping slack for me (thanks Gal) so I’ll just register my vote in that department as well and add that:

    Wow! You make this sound good. Any idea how they came to the decision to bottle at 49%?

  3. smellmyskunk says:

    I like seeing the reviews of the more expensive whiskeys. It makes me feel better knowing that these whiskeys aren’t worth the money when I can pick up a bottle of Evan Williams Single Barrel 2000 Vintage which also rates a 95 but only costs $25 a bottle.

  4. Josh West says:

    Like many folks here I’m sure, I still hold high hopes that some day I’ll be able to afford whisky’s such as this one. So, John, thanks for these reviews — I plan to return to these postings hopefully one day in the [near?] future 😉

    Just a random thought… John, have you thought about perhaps starting a MA club where folks can pool together to purchase a high priced bottle, and have MA split it into sample sizes for each person? Or perhaps a MA club where, by being a member, one may have access to purchase limited new releases, which are generally a pain to find in the wild (such as Ardbeg Rollercoaster, etc)? I’d think with MA’s reputation, it could be a success.

  5. Louis says:

    While I don’t think that hyper-expensive whisky should get more than a casual review, I don’t have a problem with merely expensive stuff going under the microscope. For the latter, I have actually been able snag an occasional dram at Whiskyfest. Two examples, the Signatory (distilled at Bowmore), 35 year old, 1970 vintage, 51.9%, 95 points/$500 which was actually poured at the Signatory table, and the Bowmore, 37 year old, 1968 vintage, 43.4%, $1000, which I purchased a dram of at the charity table.

    And while I haven’t even spent as much as $200 for a single bottle, I can’t predict what my behaviour would be if I won the Mega-Millions lottery :).



  6. RodionS says:

    John, I have your back. If you care to spend the time, you should review whatever whisky you want. I think the readers would have more of a reason to complain if this were a pay site, but you’re doing this out of the kindness of your whisky-lovin’ heart. God bless ya!

    While this is a scotch I might pick up if I were to win the lottery (which I’m thinking I have a 1/100 chance of, if my calculations are correct), even without ever being able to afford it, it’s fun to read reviews of what’s out there, just like I enjoy reading reviews of Ferraris and nice Nikon DLSRs. Maybe the things that they learn from these premium whiskies will one day influence the production and taste of the more accessible ones. Or maybe I’ll win the lottery.

  7. Chef! says:

    The reason why I personally did not want the Diageo bottles reviewed was because of their marketing and the fact a spirits super giant (Diageo) just couldn’t seem to get that whisky to our shelves. Although I will never buy this bottle of Glenlivet it is affordable to some and is available in the US. Fair game in my book and happy to see it reviewed!.

  8. Mark says:

    I think “it’s my job” is an excellent explanation for the high-end reviews, especially on your blog. I appreciate the mix of reviews and don’t understand a lack of interest in whiskies I’ll not be purchasing. I think it is worthwhile knowing what hits the 95+ mark.

    However, that seems consistent with rejecting patterns in pricing. When the readiest explanation for a price is “the market bears it,” I will not be part of making that claim true. I’m glad there are 95pt+ whiskies that are much more affordable.

    Chef!, I appreciate your post, and agree.

  9. Steffen Bräuner says:

    Hmm. I bought the 1967 cellar one for 100£ and it took me 10 deep breaths and 3 walks around around the destillery shop before my wallet came out for that one 🙂

    There must be people paying these stupid prices, otherwise the level would have kept the same as 8 years ago when I bought mine. And the number of bottles this price is also a lot larger these days. A lot of millionaires must have started drinking whisky in the meantime to keep this market up and those bottles away from the rest of us

    On theres a thread about an affordable 40yr old Glenfarclas and here was my list of “cheap” exclusive whiskies :

    Search and you will find

    last Autumn I found a 1967 42year Tamdhu for 92£(ish) at a wine shop in London called uncorked (and me that prefer screwcaps..)

    Karuizawa 1967 42yr was “just” 250£ at TWE but sold out in hours

    Black Bull 40yr is 122£ right now at Single Malts Direct … ll&id=2114

    Royal Mile got 40year Strathisla for 113£ … ears%20Old

    If you get to Elgin, try have a look in GandM’s shop. They do have a lot of old and “cheap” whisky, some bottled under secret names like MacPhails, Glen Gordon, Glen Avon but also quite a few with the right distillery name on them. I remember seing many bottlings 80-150£ around 40years old or so



  10. Andrea says:

    Actually, I think it is great that all kind of whiskies are reviewed, independently of affordability. Trying to put things in perspective, how does it compare with the 1969 vintage that you liked so much (and I did too !)

    • John Hansell says:

      The new 1973 is one of the more sherried cellar collection whiskies. I didn’t compare it to the 1969 side by side, though. (Not enough of either to do it.)

  11. Hey John,

    I have never been a fan of Glenlivet. I’ve always found it one of the least interesting of the single malts out there, probably in no small part because I am either a peat or sherry cask kind of whisky drinker. I don’t dislike the 15Yr French Oak, and have had reasonable batches of the 21Yr Archive from time to time. My overall impression of Glenlivet is that it is rather pedestrian. Even some of the Cellar Collection releases like the 1972 seemed underwhelming. My current favourite Glenlivet is the Smith’s Glenlivet 21Yr from Gordon and MacPhail which is full of fruit and massively buttery at a very reasonable price. All that said, this bottling looks like one that might interest me and I hope some makes it out to Western Canada so I can give it a try!

    As for the increasing comments deriding the prices of and reviews of older whiskies by some of the comment contributors, I offer this food for thought. Most of us don’t drive an Aston Martin DB9, but it doesn’t stop us for drooling over the review and staring at the pictures!


    Andrew Ferguson

  12. This whisky sounds fantastic, and I appreciate the high-end reviews once in a while. It’s great to see what else is out there in comparison to what the average Joe’s budget can afford.

  13. MrTH says:

    I’ve been privileged to have tasted a few Cellar Collection bottles, thanks to a very gracious and generous brand ambassador. It was only conscience that kept me from drinking more than about £75/worth of the ’64, one of the most memorable drams I’ve ever had (and that on top of the ’59). I’ve had stellar drams from single casks bottled by G&M and the SMWS, as well as the distillery-only Chivas Brothers Cask-Strength Editions. Sure, they sell a lot of mass-market bottles, but they make a lot of very, very fine whisky. But you may have a point, Andrew…I stay away from sherry and peat, for the most part. I hope that some day you will learn to love the taste of whisky! ; )

  14. Gary says:

    I have the privilege of having the whole Glenlivet Cellar Collection and will continue to maintain every new release that comes out….. I’m sick of people mistaking collectors as some sort of monster for not drinking it. I display them proudly in my library were I enjoy reading about the various different types of scotch whisky and sharing a dram of scotch with my friends. Make no mistake I do enjoy having a dram of 40 yr Glenfiddich or 30 yr Macallan but for time being the Glenlivet Cellar Collection is just what it says a COLLECTION. So back off on the collectors…. Cheers

  15. Hunter says:

    By some “logic”, I should complain that Car and Driver occasionally reviews Aston-Martins, when I can’t afford one.

    Sometimes, I don’t mind living vicariously. Heck, you could pad the dickens out of the ultra-premium reviews. Make up a story, tell us of the visions of leaping stags crossing the glen that the whiskey put into your mind.

  16. Brian says:

    My favorite local liquor store recently acquired 3 of these bottles. They know that the odds of them selling all 3 are low, so they’re considering having a tasting dinner. $150/person (10 people max) with dinner included, drink the bottle till it’s gone, and make some new friends along the way.

    Sounds like an excellent night out to me. And you don’t have to break the bank.

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