The Glenlivet 12 year old review
May 28, 2015
Glenlivet 18 label featured image
The Glenlivet 18 year old review
June 3, 2015
The Glenlivet 12 year old review
May 28, 2015
Glenlivet 18 label featured image
The Glenlivet 18 year old review
June 3, 2015

The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve review

Top of Glenlivet whisky

I recently heard that this Glenlivet replaces their 12 year old single malt in the UK market. Being a fan of The Glenlivet 12YO, I had to get my hands on this dram. Even though I felt that this has to be a step back from the whisky it was replacing. I also had a big burst of nostalgia, while thinking to myself, is it going to replace the 12YO in other markets in the future?

I know that you shouldn’t compare these two, but it’s hard not to. They do have similar kind of taste profiles, The Founder’s Reserve (not to be confused with the similar way named, much more expensive dram they had before) being more flat and of course younger, when it comes to taste. It’s been matured in first-fill American Oak casks.

Glenlivet Founder's Reserve single malt whisky review

Being Scotland’s first officially licensed whisky distillery in 1823, and second to Glenfiddich in single malts sells worldwide. The Glenlivet reached a big goal in 2014, selling one million casks worldwide. Apparently The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve is honoring the spirit of the founder George Smith. I must admit, the marketing talk is amusing:

“There is no age statement on these bottles, just like the very earliest bottles of The Glenlivet. The lack of age statement allowed Smith to draw from different cask ages, and that freedom has been replicated to take advantage of the distinctive pre-aging character created by the unique lantern shaped stills used at the distillery.”

Even though I have nothing against NAS (non age statement) whisky, it is “the easier way out” when a distillery wants to make money fast. So it’s funny to read this kind of justification for the existence of something replacing a much older product.

Feel free to try it but don’t give this CON AIR time

Matured in:
first-fill American Oak casks
Colour: Sunlight
ABV: 40%
Nose: Sweet and fruity with malted barley. Very restrained, yet sharp, the young age shows. Citrus notes and apricot.
Taste: First, bitter peach peel. Notes of pineapple, only a hue compared to the 12YO’s delicious pineapple offering. Then again, the toffee notes are good, probably better than it’s UK predecessor. I agree with Somerset Whisky Blog’s head to head review of these two: this one’s thicker and smoother.
Finish: Quick, fruity smooth finish. Sugared barley and oak. Aftertaste is quite nice so it’s a shame it doesn’t linger. Though, when given time in the glass, this dram seems to turn less good in taste. Very much of the opposite of 12YO in length.
Balance: Smooth and sweet whisky. Probably just what The Glenlivet is aiming for, wooing for younger audience.

Note to self: don’t give too much airtime for this whisky – to be consumed fast. I’m not sure if it’s possible but even few weeks oxidation in a half-full bottle seems to make it poorer. I’m feeling like a joker so my movie reference this time is Con Air – hopefully you get it from my notes and opinions above.


Distillery: Glenlivet Region: Speyside
Paper back on Glenlivet single malt whisky

Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve comes with a wrapping

Glenlivet whisky wrapped in paper

Looking for good glassware? Then you should read my blog post about whisky glasses for nosing.

Johannes Lindblom
Johannes Lindblom
Finnish whisky enthusiast and the author of WhiskyRant! A digital marketing professional by day – a whisky reviewer and informer by night.


  1. V. B. Winner says:

    ‘Single malt’? What!? This is so harsh it’s cruel.
    The alcoholic burn renders it quite unsippable. No nose to speak of. A child’s toffee palate develops to bitter burn as unwelcome fumes climb throat and invade nostrils the wrong way. No complexity to savour; none at all. Is there any point describing it further? Well, I’ll tell you of my experimentation…

    After almost using it to clean the kitchen floor, a slight improvement was achieved with a couple of cardamon seeds in the glass which improved the nose to that of tonic water. But this does not save it from its ultimate fate. Cardamon has better uses, so I’ll either continue a couple of drips (not drops) into coffee – or I’ll search the streets for an alcoholic…

    This has all the hallmarks of a patronising, piss-taking, thoroughly unforgivable marketing exercise.
    Suffice to say, I will never again buy The Glenlivet.

  2. Tam o' Banter says:

    The only thing wrong with this whisky is its age. As the whisky world is taken over by cynical psychopaths and marketing crap, I am genuinely fearful that, like the watch industry normalising metal bracelets without micro-adjustment so that younger owners now have no idea that a watch is supposed to fit you, new drinkers of whisky will believe that whisky is just slightly more tasty than vodka.
    These…..developments are extremely worrying and have only one goal: to increase profits.

    • Johannes Lindblom says:

      Hear hear! Thanks for your comment, I’m with you on this one. We have to have standards, and I’m also worried that whisky industry is lowering its standards. Or at least you have to pay too many bucks to get the same standards you got with half the price five years ago.

  3. Rab the Ranter says:

    I’m not sure we’re drinking the same stuff!

    Harsh? This is not in the slightest harsh in my opinion, in fact I find it one of the least harsh whiskies I’ve tried.

    Not complex? probably yes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    This is just the kind of whisky that could introduce non whisky drinkers to Scotch and I for one, like it a lot. In fact, I prefer it to the 12 year old.

    • Johannes Lindblom says:

      You’re probably replying to V. B. Winner? For me Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve wasn’t harsh either. On the contrary, it’s very smooth. But lacks in character unlike the 12 year old which is why I liked 12YO better. Of course it’s always a matter of taste. Each individual feels whiskies differently and even a light whisky can taste harsh to inexperienced whisky drinker.

  4. PW Gardner says:

    Just the thing for a fortnight lockdown in the Welsh weather and especially as it only cost the princely sum of twenty-two great British pounds notes from the Tesco nearby.

    Middle of the road no thrills with no discernable upsets and goes down eezy. Nothing to get upset about if you want a reasonable single malt dram to keep the inclement weather at bay.
    Obviously not an expensive whisky but what would you expect for a ageless cheapy.

    It’s quite nice altogether even though it isn’t as peaty heavy as my fave Jura; i can’t find anything big to complain about and will drink this bottle of sunny shaded joy.

    Cheers from a Englishman living in Glamorgan who once lived up Paisley 👍

    • Johannes Lindblom says:

      Thank you for your comment PW Gardner! I’m with you on this one. This Glenlivet is easy to drink and nothing to get upset about if you get it with 22£.

  5. Francis says:

    I started drinking Scotch after first starting with the Glevlivent 12 year. Having them side by side, I can concur that it seems like The Founders Reserve seems to take its aim at the younger drinkers of Scotch. The Founders Reserved seems like it takes aim at a sweeter note with fewer complexities compared to the 12 year which comes to boast a more mature age in its bottle. If I had had the Founders Reserve as my very first Scotch, I could see myself being intrigued enough to continue my journey but in my current state, I’ll be happy to stick with the 12 year as my main.

  6. Peter Scholey says:

    Founders Reserve is rubbish in my opinion and the latest bottle of 12yerar old I bought has an unpleasant aftertaste. I think Glenlivet have lost the plot.

    • Johannes Lindblom says:

      Thanks for the comment Peter! Sad to hear that, since 12 year old Glenlivet is a favorite of mine. Let’s hope that the unpleasant aftertaste was caused by a bad batch or a bottling.

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