Glenlivet 12 y.o. Review

Glenlivet 12 y.o.

40% abv

Score:  83/100


It is hard to think of Glenlivet 12 without comparing it to Glenfiddich 12.  Together or alone they epitomize the Speyside character, and are neck and neck as the top two selling malts in the global market.  You can see how comparisons are inevitable.  Though I hope this review stands alone, Ideally you, dear reader, would have a glass of each in front of you to follow along and tell me if you agree.

Glenlivet is known as ‘the single malt that started it all’.  The distillery was founded in 1824 to much controversy.  As whisky distillation was all done on the downlow to shun the excise man and the Excise Act of 1823, George Smith’s decision to license his business and go legit met with…to put it mildly…a little indignation.  A neat history there, but as you should know by now…I am here to tell you about the dram, not the drama behind it.  So…on to the whisky!

First things first…I absolutely prefer the nose of this Glenlivet to that of the Glenfiddich 12.  The boldest threads to be picked out of the scents here are bright red berries, sweet peaches or nectarines, flowery notes and crunchy red MacIntosh apple.  It seems slightly drier, tangier and more mature than the Glenfiddich 12 (and I have a glass of each beside me to prove it!).  Gotta be honest though…the Glenfiddich wins on the palate for sure.

The delivery of the Glenlivet to the tongue is sweet.  Very sweet.  Apples again…wood…a hint of vanilla.  A bit of sweet and sour.  Falls down a little on the finish with not a lot of length or development beyond the initial discoveries.

None too shabby.  Not something I’d go to often, but wouldn’t shy away from a proffered dram either.  So long as the follow-up offering was a little more…ahem…extravagant.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

8 thoughts on “Glenlivet 12 y.o. Review

  1. Stella

    If you are a Lover of Glenlivet, I found a great deal at Costco for the 40 Year Old. Yes, that’s right -the 40 Year Old!
    for only 1/2 the price of the Distilleries own edition is the Kirkland brand Glenlivet 40 for $699.00. It even comes with its very own numbered certificate of authenticity. At this price they won’t last through the Holidays…

    -Stella from

  2. Robert

    I received a liter bottle of this last Christmas and didn’t open it until a few months ago. It is definitely not complex, but it is quite pleasant, more pleasant than I remember. I think I’m reaching burnout on peaty and sherried whiskies as I have an urge for the simple bourbon barrel aged whiskies lately.

    1. David

      then may I suggest Amrut cask strength or single cask bourbon matured? Knocks it out of the park compared to livet 12…

      And the single casks are AGE -stated

        1. David

          Yes, but only in relation to how whiskies mature in that climate. So youth is ok for Amrut.

          If they found a cask and were not sure when it was laid down and they kept it for three more years and then bottled it (if it were not evaporated) they could not give it an accurate age statement, but if it were good, I’d drink it.

      1. Veritas

        So really,

        It’s not that “age” matters in an of itself. It’s really “Maturation” that matters.

        Maturation is dependent on the wood, the previous contents of the wood, the volume of the container, fill ABV, climate, maturation environment AND time.

        So really, and Amrut is good example, age doesn’t tell you much in and of itself. Of course, when looking at a particular distiller, given a reputation, you can get an idea what age means for THAT distillery (because often the other variables are fairly consistent). So a Livet Founders vs 12, we KNOW the 12 will be drinkable and the other one, likely younger, sucks. So NAS on a livet you can’t trust.

        Which is a long-winded way of agreeing with Jeff that the age should be made available, but also to agree with David that you probably can’t make assumptions based on age, and if you judge based on age alone you do so at your peril.

        1. Jeff

          Well, if time matters to maturation, time – and age – matters, which is what I said. Are there other factors involved in maturation? Sure, but that’s never been denied anyway.

          Age tells me (or would tell me) just as much with Amrut, in the context of Amrut’s offerings, as it does with Bowmore in the context of its offerings. Like any piece of information, it neither says anything out of context nor does it tell the entire story in and of itself. But, with NAS, what’s under attack is WHETHER age is valid product information AT ALL, compared to some hokey Gaelic name – which is why it’s both a lie and needs to be opposed.

          I don’t know if Founder’s Reserve sucks or not – I only know that no one seems too proud of its age and that, whatever that age is, it will have an effect upon the character of the product – quality only being the character that someone likes vs. the character that they don’t. The point about trust, however, IS very important; with Founder’s Reserve, Glenlivet isn’t committing to a minimum age, so this product can drop any distance toward 3 years without notice.

  3. Robert

    Most whiskies knock it out of the park against Glenlivet 12. I’ve always considered it to be in the 80 point range, worth a shot at parties, but not worth buying. However, I’ve been finding the more flavorful whiskies less appealing lately. I’ve been gravitating towards Clynelish 14, Oak Cross, Glenlivet Nadurra 16 (not the NAS shit!), Glenmorangie Tusail, etc. and bourbons such as Russell’s Reserve Single Cask and Weller 12. I’ve also been enjoying a dram a week of a 2005 bottle of Longmorn 15. Great stuff, but still on the lighter side, taste wise. So a mix of AS and NAS, but all fairly light, at least compared to many of the peated and sherried ones.

    We don’t get Amrut here, but I am considering making a run for several more bottles of Nadurra 16 before it’s a distant memory.


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