Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review: The Glenlivet 15 years French Oak Reserve

The Glenlivet 15 years French Oak Reserve Single Malt Scotch

The Glenlivet 15 years French Oak Reserve is one of those single malts that doesn't have all the media buzz and praise that critics heap on other malts like The Macallan 12 years.  I guess the consensus among critics is that The Glenlivet 15 is not all that special.

I receive usually five to ten emails a week from readers and often they ask what my opinion of one malt or another is.  Invariably, The Glenlivet 15 is raised by more than a few readers.   So, naturally I thought I should investigate.

Very fruity and floral.  Roses, cherries and dark berries.  Not the most incredible of aromas to rise out of my glass, but that's ok because the price was not the most incredible either.

Cherry, rich dark plums and of course oak.  Creamy.  An exotic oak, but not too exotic such that it is weird.  All pleasing flavors here.  Soft, enjoyable, very drinkable texture.  Nice firm mouthfeel to this one.

Vanilla, more oak and drying a bit.  Not super long, but not bad either.

General Impressions
Most, if not all, tasting notes on this single malt have understandably emphasized the oak.  The oak is good.  But, I taste some sherry, not a great deal, but a little and wanted to know if I was crazy. So, I dropped an email to The Glenlivet and they promptly responded (for which I thank them) and advised that their Master Blender, Sandy Hyslop, does age a very small amount of this spirit in sherry butts of each vatting.

This is not the greatest of single malts, but at the price point, it certainly does deliver.  Smooth and drinkable. This malt is widely available, but don't think that because it is so common it can't be good.  It is good.  Very pleasing.  Meets all the benchmarks of what goes into a nice malt.  Quite quaffable.  Makes a nice gift for the scotch enthusiasist who doesn't want to be overwhelmed with a strong array of flavors.  No bite, bitter or offensive flavors will be found in this malt.

Give it a chance, you won't be disappointed by this, reasonably priced, middle of the road malt.


Jason Debly

Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2011. All rights reserved. Any and all use is prohibited without permission.


  1. Hi Jason,
    Is it just me, or did this blog post get shorter over night? :-)

    Anyway, I guess I just have a comment on the Glenlivet 15 then...I totally agree with you that this is a great value, and there are definitely some flavor notes that are common with other sherried whiskies (perhaps more in line with the double-matured expressions).

    My first purchase of this was as a gift for my Uncle-in-law. He's not a whisky drinker...he's a brandy guy. But he very much enjoyed this one. It's VERY accessible.

    I later purchased a bottle for myself. After reading this, I need to pull it out of the back of my cabinet and reacquaint myself. :-)


  2. Jason, another great review. I find the nose on this scotch just delightful, probably cause of bouquet. I agree it's not incredible but good, but in BC... at it's current price point it's something to add to the stable ($63.99 from $69). How do you think it compares to the Glenfiddich 15 Solera reserve?

    Thank you and keep up the great work!

  3. Hi Jeff, yeah, I did delete part of my original post. It was just too negative. For those of you who did not see it, it was basically about some rude comments made in a Whisky Magazine issue about scotch bloggers. In hindsight, I figure people dont want to read that. People visit my site looking for reviews and thoughts on scotch. So, I refocused and deleted the non-relevant portion.

    Jeff, I think it wouldnt hurt for you to revisit this bottle and maybe review it yourself (other readers please check out Jeff's site: Scotch Hobbyist).

    . . .

    Hi Chris! I think Glenfiddich 15yrs is definitely superior. Glad you like this site. Thanks for commenting!


  4. Thanks for the plug, Jason. Your check is in the mail. Ha ha!

    I'm definitely going to spend some time with the French Oak again. In fact...I have a bottle of the Glenfiddich 15 yr as well, but I've never done a head-to-head with them (although, I know they're different animals). That should be interesting.

  5. I recall the 15 is very oaky (not my thing).
    Is lot smoother then 12 just the oak is pretty dominate over the foral for sure. This was like ten years ago. not modern bottles.

  6. Any plans to review Glenlivet 16 Nadurra? It's my favorite of the Glenlivet range even though it's the odd one out of the line.

    1. Nadurra is pretty good. It's just one of those that I have been meaning to review and never got around to it. Will do my best.

  7. Jason, We poured this one at the pub among a light styled trio last evening. It stood up rather well, better than I expected (with Glenfiddich 15, Aberfeldy 12). It's laid back palate is easy to understand and the cinnamon, vanilla and black pepper nose suggests to me that Bourbon drinkers might enjoy this one as an initial foray into malt territory. JK

    1. I agree. It is kinda reminiscent of Jim Beam Black. Anything reminiscent of that fine bourbon is a good thing.

  8. Jason,

    As a frugal fellow, I rarely spend Too, too much on my whisky. The liquor store by me has, for some lately, been stockpiling on 50ml minis of this stuff, for but a couple of US dollars. I bought a few to sample on a couple of different occasions. It's kind of becoming my "luxury" Scotch.

    It is not mind-blowing, I agree. But good grief, Charlie Brown, is it friendly and quaffable. A warm, modestly-sherried, fruity blanket. It seems like it'll be nice to nip come winter-time.


    1. Great prices can be had on this single malt, and as the Fall approaches, sherry influenced drams seem to be all the more warming.

      Nice to hear from you. Hope all is well!

  9. Jason:
    My local store in Calgary has this on for $39.99 ! At that price, I'll take my chances and buy it.
    What are typical prices through NBLCC stores? In BC, it's listed at $75.99.
    RS (BTW, an FHS/UNB grad)

    1. At New Brunswick Liquor Glenlivet French Oak is $55.29. A fair price. At $39.99 it is a great buy. I am a FHS/UNB grad too, mind you I am probably much older than you. Cheers!

    2. Jason:
      Your assumption is probably incorrect, given my FHS grad year was 1970.....and UNB was 1974. I may attend UNB Homecoming in 2014, but it may be more of a BYOB. :-)

    3. Fair enough. I graduated from FHS in 1985, and UNB in '89, '92 and '01.

      If you make it back for the Homecoming, drop me a line and maybe we can meet for a wee dram!

  10. Hi Jason. Great review! Appreciate that you took into consideration the price of this bottle when reviewing. At the end of the day no matter how good a bottle is, we cant taste and experience it if we cant afford it. Unless we have generous friends. I have a question. I'm new to the whisky world. I am planning to buy a bottle of single malt. I've narrowed my options to the Glenlivet 15 ($38) and Glenmorangie 10 ($34). What would you recommend? I considered the livet 15 because it's just $4 more than the morangie 10 and thought the extra 5 years would be a big difference. Im currently enjoying a bushmills black bush but willing to explore other flavors. Thank you very much!

  11. I think if you like Black Bush, the Glenlivet 15yrs would be the better choice!

    Welcome to the blog and feel free to comment anytime!