By Richard Thomas
Glenlivet is the best-selling malt whiskey in the United States, and the label’s Moray, Scotland distillery has been in almost continuous operation since its founding in 1824. The oldest whiskey-maker in Moray, Glenlivet closed only for the Second World War. Glenlivet’s product is generally known for it’s lightness, and it’s 15 Year scotch is no exception.
Glenlivet’s scotch whiskey is made with water from the local Josie’s Well and barley from Portgordon, which is then distilled in Glenlivet’s lantern-shaped stills. The 15 Year scotch is then aged in new oak barrels fashioned from wood from the Limousin region of central France. Glenlivet likes to bill its 15 Year French Oak Reserve as a symbol of the “auld alliance” between France and Scotland against England. In terms of its place among the Glenlivet line, the 15 Year is the first step above the standard Glenlivet 12 Year scotch.
The 15 Year French Oak Reserve is a light, straw-colored scotch. The nose is dominated by an airy citrus scent, with strong undertones of oak. On the palate, the scotch is velvety-smooth with sweet, strong flavors of orange and vanilla. The finish goes down with plenty of pleasant warmth. The overall result is a light, sweet, even scotch with just a little complexity, making it very approachable to whiskey novices and pleasant for the aficionado.
Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve usually retails for around $45, but sometimes bottles can be found for as little as $38 or as high as around $55.
Whisky magazine made the Glenlivet 15 Year an Editor’s Choice whiskey, giving it an 8.75 rating. The scotch also earned a gold medal from the International Spirits Challenge in 2005, and a gold from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2009.