Founded in 1824, the Glenlivet Distillery of Moray, Scotland is the oldest distillery in its namesake parish and has been in continuous operation since its first batch of barley was malted almost two centuries ago. The label is well-known in the United States, as it is the best-selling malt whisky in America.
The Glenlivet in general is noted for its light-tasting scotch made with water from Josie’s Well and barley from Portgordon, which is distilled in lantern-shaped stills. Their 15 year old scotch is something of an expression of the “auld alliance” between the bygone Kingdom of Scotland and France, forged by their mutual antipathy for England, as the whisky is aged in new oak barrels made from wood from the Limousin region of France.
The Glenlivet 15 Year is a light-colored scotch. Shockingly, the nose has no peat in it whatsoever. That might be a result of aging the scotch in brand new French oak, as there is plenty of oak in the nose, but the result is a predominant scent of spicy citrus fruits. In that respect, the scotch is already unlike most single malts coming out of Scotland.
Once on the palate, the scotch is warming without being fiery, and the lack of peat smoke in the nose carries over into the flavor. Instead, one is left with flavors of orange and vanilla in a velvety-smooth whisky.
The price depends on the liquor store and the distributor therein, with bottles of the Glenlivet 15 Year going for as little as $38. A price tag in the 40s is more normal, and anything over $50 should be considered price gouging.
The Glenlivet 15 Year was a Whisky magazine Editor’s Choice, earning an 8.75 rating. It also earned a Gold Medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 2005.
The Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve is a step up from the distillery’s basic scotch, which is aged for 12 years. The scotch is suitably priced as a single step up from that basic label. However, there is a caveat about the 15 Year. The lack of peat in the scotch makes it very atypical. Those who love Irish whisky but find the smokiness of scotch unpleasant will love The Glenlivet 15 Year, and the whisky is very interesting in its own right. However, devoted scotch drinkers who love their peaty flavors should avoid this particular label, as it has little for them.