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The Glenlivet 15 Year Old (French Oak Reserve)

Review: The Glenlivet 15 Year Old (French Oak Reserve)  87.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on July 18, 2018

The Glenlivet Distillery is located near Ballindalloch in Moray, Scotland. The Distillery was founded in 1824. It remained open during the first World War as well as and through the Great Depression with its only during World War II. The Glenlivet brand is owned by the French conglomerate Pernod Ricard, and has grown to be largest selling single malt whisky in North America and the second largest selling single malt whisky globally.

According to the Glenlivet website:

The 15 Year Old gets its distinctive rich and exotic character from a process of selective maturation in which a proportion of the spirit is matured in French oak casks. In fact, we at The Glenlivet were one of the first to use French oak for making whisky, a technique that has since been imitated the world over.

The Limousin oak we use is cut in France’s Dordogne region, where it’s often used to mature cognacs. Its low density allows whisky to sink deep into the wood, and we carefully control how long the whisky matures in the casks so as not to overpower the desired result: a unique, pleasing spiciness.

The Glenlivet 15 Year Old is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Most of my review is in the form of my actual tasting notes which were written during a recent private tasting of several Scotch Whiskies. I have added limited commentary to these tasting notes as well as new tasting notes for serving the spirit over ice and in a cocktail which I did on my own after the event using a small sample which was provided to me after the event.

In the Bottle: 5/5

The presentation of The Glenlivet 15 Year Old is shown to the left. The single malt whisky is housed in a smart maroon box  and an attractive clear long-necked bottle. The box and bottle label use a colour and font scheme which is easy on the eyes and which brings class to the presentation. Information about the brand is included on both the front label of the bottle as well as on the display box to inform the potential consumer about the brand. As well the year 1824, when the Glenlivet brand was founded, is proudly displayed just under the neck on the bottle. Everything is topped with a nice foil wrapped cork topper.

The Scottish Singe Malt Whisky companies are miles ahead of their competition with respect to showcasing their spirits.

In the Glass 9/10

Colour:  Amber with orange flashes in the light.

Legs: Medium-small droplets which develop into slender legs which fall slowly.

Initial Aroma: light caramel with red apples and green grapes, some oak spice with vanilla and baking spices (cinnamon and nutmeg),

Decanted Aroma: Oak spice, willow, green grapes and canned apricots, herbal notes come forward with a touch of floral flair.

The whisky seems well-balanced with the oak growing in stature as the dram breathes.

In The Mouth 53.5/60

Alcohol push and Spice: Smooth with no alcohol bite, Even the wood spice seems tempered.

Initial Taste: Moderate wood spice, vanilla, green grape and red apple.

Follow up: The maltiness begins to come through, herbal accents, light baking spices (vanilla and cinnamon), some canned fruit, The flavour becomes richer as the whisky sits.

With Ice: Some light bitterness and grassiness develops as the sweetness diminishes.

Mixed: I mixed a modified old-fashioned using Fees Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters and sugar syrup. The result is outstanding!

The whisky is much better than the descriptors indicate. The flavours develop over time making this a whisky I would allow to sit for ten or fifteen minutes to maximize my enjoyment.

In The Throat: 12.5/15

Body and Length: Medium bodied with a smooth finish

Flavours during Swallow: Baking spice and green apple

Lingering Flavours: Wood spice, heather and menthol and an unfortunate touch of bitterness

The Afterburn  8.5/10

Final Thoughts: The unfortunate bitterness which lingers at the end drops the rating. This bitterness is enhanced with ice so I would recommend adding water instead. Everything else about the whisky is outstanding.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe:

Old Fashioned Cocktail with Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters

1 1/2 oz Glenlivet 15 Year Old
1/3 oz  Sugar Syrup (1:1)
2 dashes Fees Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
Ice Cubes
Twist of Orange Peel

Add the first four ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


As always you may (loosely) interpret the scores I provide as follows:

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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