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Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Finish

Average score from 22 reviews and 96 ratings 81

Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Finish

Product details

  • Brand: Glenlivet
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 40.0%
  • Age: 15 year old

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@OdysseusUnbound
Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Finish

This bottle, or the bottom third of this bottle (as it were), was a gift from my wife's grandfather, Jack. I'm the only one who drinks scotch with him, and he doesn't like having too much of it in the house. Jack's brother buys him two bottles of scotch every year: one for his birthday and one for Christmas. Every few months, Jack brings me a bottle, or half a bottle, or in this case a third of a bottle, because he wants to open a different one. I'm all too happy to oblige him. I've sipped this one with him intermittently since July, but it only came into my possession this past Saturday, so I'm only now doing a critical assessment. My scoring of this bottle is probably a bit on the high side, as the previous months' experience of sipping this one while chatting with Jack makes the whisky that much more enjoyable.

Glenlivet, sorry THE Glenlivet's 15 Year Old expression is finished in French Limousin Oak. This oak is often used for maturing cognac. How long in Limousin Oak, as opposed to ex-bourbon? Your guess is as good as mine.The idea is to imbue the whisky with rich fruity notes, and sweet spices, according to THE Glenlivet's website. So let's see what I can find.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose (undiluted): light, floral, vanilla, peaches, apricots
  • Palate (undiluted): very soft arrival, light bodied, peaches, almonds, vanilla
  • Finish: short to medium length, icing sugar, meringues, more peaches, then drying, with a malted barley note lingering for just a moment.

Bottled at 40% abv, this does not need water. It's a very light and subtle whisky. It's agreeable and inoffensive. A casual drinker would definitely classify it as SMOOOOOOOOOOOOOTH. This whisky is unlikely to elicit any kind of strong reaction, which would make it ideal for someone new to malt whisky. It's also one you could serve to a large group of people without worrying about peat, smoke, or even big sherry (possibly sulphuric) flavours. However, I don't want to sound condescending. This is a well-made malt whisky. There are no off flavours, the texture is silky, and the whole experience is satisfying. If it were priced more reasonably, it would be the ideal whisky for casual sipping with company.

@OdysseusUnbound I agree. At $50-60 it would be worth keeping a bottle on hand, but it’s closer to $80 here with taxes and well off my radar. And you did use the dreaded S word in your description.

I also inherited a partial bottle of this once, but from a guy named John instead of Jack.

I really disliked it. Not because it was weak or ubersmooth or forgettable. But because of that spice! I remember the taste of (apparently) that limousin oak being rather overpowering, and not at all to my taste.

It's one of the reasons I've never taken a spin on Compass Box's Spice Tree, as I imagine it tasting the same.

@TheEnabler

Neat Nose: cherry Twizzlers, deep mellow oak Taste: moderately oily mouthfeel, bit of spice and wood

Did not try with water, I suspect it would kill what little nose/taste we have neat.

I really like the mouthfeel and the cherry/licorice of the nose, but there's not much complexity to this malt. Spicier than the 12 and 18, but missing the grassy, fruity notes from those expressions. Not as spicy as the Nadurra and a thicker body (both good things, in my opinion).

@Boglehill

Aroma of floral rose, vanilla and green apple. Creamy-silk texture with light-medium body. Taste has notes of cinnamon and sugar, clove, woody oak and black pepper followed by green apple. The finish is long and dry with slight spice notes.

@Uisgebetha

This is an interesting dram, intense well melded flavours smoothly delivered.

The nose is subtle, malt and demerara sugar provide one theme but there are also fruity hints of orange and raspberries to brighten the bouquet.

In the mouth it’s very smooth, malty again but with some wood this time. Fruit is still present with orange zest, strawberries and apricots apparent to me. Somehow sweet and dry at the same time on the finish, not sure how that can be, but there are some bitter hints which are reminiscent of cocoa.

Not one to rush otherwise your likely miss the subtle highlights.

@Emin

Nose : Banana, Peach, slightly honey, Red apple, sour , citrus, hint of nuts

Taste : Oak, duff fruity flavour ,some apple again, not too sweet.

After adding a bit of water I didn't really noticed any change, it's a bit more creamy but I recommend adding no water.

Finish : Dry, bit sweet, but mostly dry and a short finish

Overall : Don't really think this is a very good whisky but for the value it brings things that are quite good. I don't like the finish, it's way too short but the nose/taste are quite good

@GBrough

I got this for a graduation gift, in a glenlivet legacy pack which contains the 18 year old glenlivet as well. So lets get started. Nose: Cherries, raspberries, vanilla, oak, cinnamon, waves of dark fruits. Palate: Cherries, raspberries, vanilla, oak, spices, pepper, i get plums somewhere in here. Finish: Vanilla, oak, cherries, citrus. Overall good if a bit light at times, not like the nadura at all but that is a good thing, bump this up to 43 or 46 percent on the proof and this dram will be perfect.

Great review. One of my most underrated drams. And you nailed it, if this was 43-46% it might be perfect. Thanks for the review.

@GBrough

I got this for a graduation gift, in a glenlivet legacy pack which contains the 18 year old glenlivet as well. So lets get started. Nose: Cherries, raspberries, vanilla, oak, cinnamon, waves of dark fruits. Palate: Cherries, raspberries, vanilla, oak, spices, pepper, i get plums somewhere in here. Finish: Vanilla, oak, cherries, citrus. Overall good if a bit light at times, not like the nadura at all but that is a good thing, bump this up to 43 or 46 percent on the proof and this dram will be perfect.

@Nock

This is from a bottle from several years ago. I kept a small sample. I honestly can’t remember if this has changed much. I seem to remember perfume notes . . . but I’m not sure. It is one of those bottles I had during the extreme days of my “peat-madness.” I was totally uninterested in it. I still don’t think much of it. On this night I tasted it against Glenfiddich 15yo and Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist (the 16yo bottling from 2006). The Ardbeg had an unfair advantage in this line up . . .

Nose: Much hotter on the nose (soapy at first too) then the Glenfiddich 15yo. Grass and lemon. No fruit with only the slightest hint of smoke. The hint of peat is infinitesimally small – like entering a room where a hint of peat just left. Now I just caught a hint of strawberries. And now a hint of malt! The more I stay with this nose the more I like it.

Taste: Pears, white wine, and a little bitter perfumed soap – sad. Do all Glenlivet’s have soap on the mouth? I can’t believe they do. So why does it seem to be the case for every bottle I buy?

Finish: Very short finish. Mostly just malt, flowers and a hint of bitter oak.

Balance, Complexity: I have to give it a little credit for a complex nose. But the balance just wasn’t there. I can’t call “soapy” balanced.

Color, Body, Aesthetic experience: Classic amber. Very light bodied – almost like water. Over all I am tempted to like Glenlivet more then Glenfiddich in the eternal battle of the Glens . . . but this bottle ain’t helpin’.

Conclusion: I imagine that one day I will buy another bottle of Glenlivet. This will almost certainly not be the bottle I buy. In some tasting lineups some bottles have a disadvantage . . . such was the case putting Glenfiddich 15yo and Glenlivet 15yo against an Ardbeg 16yo for my taste preference. I really should been more fair. Too bad it was my last drop of the stuff. If there had been another non-peated 15yo in the mix the score of this might have been slightly higher . . . but I still don’t think I would ever buy a bottle.

@hunggar

Glenlivet releases don’t usually impress most people. They tend to play it safe in terms of flavours and intensity. On one hand, it’s easy to dislike them for that. But it’s that exact quality that makes the whisky so popular across the world. Whereas Islay releases, intense sherry releases, cask strength releases, and experimental wine finishes can be more interesting, they are also riskier, as the finished product can be more volatile. Although Glenlivet does have a few releases that fit the above profiles, they are best known for their core line of 12-25 year old releases. They are certainly ‘safe’ whiskies, but they aren’t bad. Personally, I find the 12 to be a bit boring, but a refreshing and pleasant light sipper nonetheless. Oppositely, the 18 is actually quite wonderful, complex, and pleasing. I’ve sampled a few from their range and haven’t disliked any of them. But intense, challenging, experimental, or provocative are not words that I’d use to describe them. With that in mind, I approach the 15 yr French Oak Reserve without any colourful expectations.

Nose: Freshly sliced apples, honey, gentle vanilla, citrus, pears, cereal. Smooth, light and pleasant, albeit a bit ordinary.

Palate: Smooth and oaky. There are some nice light floral notes interwoven with orange, vanilla and honey notes. The oak is certainly more pronounced than I expected, which is a pleasant surprise.

Finish: Sweet, gentle finish. Light oak, honey, pancakes, cereal, and gentle floral notes remain for the duration of the somewhat short finish.

This stuff is pretty much what I expected it to be. Better than the 12, but still a bit uneventful. The 18 is a significant step up, and I’d recommend it over this one in a heartbeat. However, it’s one of those drams that will neither offend nor impress. It’s a bit better than the 12 because the oak and floral notes are a bit more apparent. It’s pleasant, competent, and light. I’d say it’s a slightly above average introductory dram, or an easy sipper for those who don’t want anything particularly intense. But in the end it does lack a bit of character. Ultimately this is what it is supposed to be. Accessible and pleasant. I’ve learned to expect precisely that from Glenlivet.

@MaltActivist

This has been one of my favorite malts for a long time. Not because it's the best malt out there but because it was one of the first I tried early on in my career as a malt enthusiast. And I'm glad it was this one for who knows what would have become of me had I tried something vile.

The uncomplicated Speyside nose is bursting at the seams with an orangey citrus burst on a bed of smooth melon rind. The honey and delicate flowers accompany this fruitiness and make for quite a nice bouquet of aromas.

The beautifully textured spirit is a touch spicy but that quickly gives way to a lovely warm fruit basket mixed with marshmallows. Something oddly comforting about this delivery.

The long and oily finish with a touch of oak keeps taking me back to why I began this glorious journey in the first place.

Thanks for the review. This is one of my favorites and a very underrated whisky. I'd love to see this at 43% ABV.

h

Tasted as part of a Glenlivet flight along with the Nadurra and the 18 y/o.

Nose - Granny Smith Apples, Fruit Salad, Grapes and faint hints of Lavender and Peanut Brittle, some spearmint which is common to Glenlivet. A little water brings out a creaminess to the profile.

Body - Surprisingly full-bodied, oily and mouth cating but very smooth.

Palate - Not much going on. Plain. Faint hint of citrus fruit, maybe a touch of dried spice.

Finish - Short, some dried spice in there but nothing special.

Not at all unpleasant but lacking something.

@UisgeJon

This is my first attempt at a review, lets see how it turns out.

I picked this bottle up at a local liquor store because I was looking to try something different. I have to say, it's not a bad bottle. There is something very easy and likable about this one.

Nose: When I poured this and took my first wiff, I very clearly picked up on floral notes and honey. I'm sitting with this dram now and keep going back to it. Not very complex, but very pleasant.

Taste: This didn't disappoint as much as it did surprise. I was expecting much more heavy on the vanilla and honey, but instead find myself surrounded by tropical fruits, cherry, and then...yes, there is that honey on the end. Hmm.

Finish: Fairly long, moist, a hint of spice and more of those tropical notes from the palate. Not too complex, rather simple, but a but of uniqueness compared to what else I have tried.

All in all, this is an enjoyable, easy, summer-esque dram that has no intimidation at all. One I would offer to a non-whisky drinker. A solid B on the scorecard.

aww dammit! i was hoping to be the first person to respond. damn you sguishy and wills! ^_^ just kidding. hey, don't ever worry about what your palate brings to the table. you gotta honor your own opinions and if anyone challenges you in a condescending way then they are a butt hole (if i wanted to deal with an a$@hole i'd fart....that line came from a book of insults. i should buy one to work on my black belt in verbal assassination). anyway, great review and i'm looking forward to hearing your drinking adventures with those islay scotches and japanese whiskies! wow!! 3 am after some drams? you are rock star status.

@Bliss you kill me. Can I be the Mr. Miyagi to your karate kid? I'll train you in verbal assasination. However, I'm concerned, because I fear you're too nice for verbal assination. I'll see what I can do though.

And yes, 3 AM! When You don't get off work until 11:15 and the bar you're going to is half an hour from your home, AND you don't have to work the next day, it's not as rock star-esque. But hey, I'll take the compliment!

@scotchtape

Nose: vanilla oak, toffee cream, cookie dough, dried apricot, walnut, pineapple

Taste: vanilla, orange zest, sweet cream, light oak, touch of strawberry

Arrival: flavour develops quite slowly at the front of the tongue and moves backward. Quite weak and ineffective.

Finish: abrupt and unexpected. Sort of a lack-lustre drop-off.

On the palate this whisky feels watery and thin. No robust, deep flavours here. It is what it is, however I was (at least) expecting much more given the age statement. It doesn't coat the palate like a good dram of the same age would - it sort of sits and wallows and trickles around the tongue as if waiting to be given direction.

For a 15 year old whisky, the Glenlivet fails to impress. Luckily I had the fortune of finding my bottle on sale at roughly half the price, though if I had the chance for a do-over, l would certainly choose any of the only slightly more expensive Bruichladdich bottlings on the same shelf. The Glenlivet may appeal to many "mainstream" scotch whisky drinkers, but as a Speyside whisky it truly falls short of the other great Speysiders on the market.

There is obvious E150 present, and I wouldn't go so far as to say it isn't chill filtered - both of which could be eliminated to produce a higher quality single malt. Not to mention, a higher ABV would do this whisky wonders. I've only had a few malts over the 15 year mark, but each has been an inviting, complex tasting experience. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for this particular Glenlivet. After numerous tastings it has revealed to me just as much as the bad end of some lower quality 12 year olds that I've tasted. Needless to say I won't be buying a bottle again, though I suspect this may be a good dram to break out to some beginners looking to break in to the world of scotch whisky.

B

This bottle of Glenlivet was shared among great friends I call Brothers. That alone starts the experience off the right way. However this was the second time enjoying a dram or two of this 15 year old nectar.

The Nose: creamy, smooth but warm citrus. Orange and Toffee.

The Palate: Oakieness and toasted cinnamon; maybe a pepperyness at first. It is followed by roasted nuts, maybe almonds. Very smooth.

The finish: Warm...Definitely a burnt nut flavor. I can't help but say hints of nutmeg as well.

Liquid gold in a bottle. And priceless when shared among brothers. Cheers!

Thanks for the review. I really enjoy the standard Glenlivet 12 and I have a bottle of the French Oak 15 in my cabinet. I'm really looking forward to opening it. Sure, it's not an exotic dram or nearly as interesting (on the surface) as many whiskies I have but there's just something about Glenlivet that has me coming back for more at those times when I just want an uncomplicated but reliable and satisfying single malt experience. Cheers.

You said it best..."Uncomplicated but reliable, satisfying single malt."

m

Nose: Sweet, hints of pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon, green apples, pears, a little pine, pine nuts, fresh oak.

Palate: Light to medium bodied, fruity, oily, eucalyptus notes, spice and pepper notes, some grapefruit, lime, lemon zest, red berries. A bittersweet palate overall.

Finish: Inconsistent finish from dram to dram, sometimes it's good with pepper notes, vanilla, oak, lime, and, grapefruit. At other times there is no finish.

In my opinion this single malt is too watered down. It seems to me that a lot of what this dram could offer has been drowned out from the distillery. The beautiful nose offers such promise, the palate is however, to light. The inconsistent finish further diminishes this drams impression on you. This would be a stunner if this had a higher ABV like Glenlivet's 16 y.o. but, as is, it's a moderate dram that offers a decent presentation and not much more.

I have a bottle of this at the back of the cupbaord and coincidently dug it out last night. I'd forgotton just how fruity the nose is. If the whisky delivered as much on the palate it would be a cracker.

@Megawatt

Nose: sweet, mellow, hinting at fruit, wood, a touch of menthol. Pleasant and light.

Taste: light-to-medium body. The initial sweetness is of strawberry, and this is carried through across the tongue as spiciness and bitter oak build in intensity. A touch of water brings more of a creaminess while mellowing the tingle of spice.

Finish: just a touch too bitter for my liking. Retains a fruity tang, though.

Balance: smells nice enough and the initial malty-fruity surge is a pleasure, but it never really peaks. Extra mouth-tingling bitterness throws it a bit off-stride.

@MaltActivist

I get goosebumps thinking about this one. Such a strong strong nose - as if lying in a field of flowers coated in honey. On it's own the spices wrestle with slowly roasting fruit. Add a dash of water and it's like tucking into a damn good cake after a big Christmas lunch.

@markjedi1

I visited the Glenlivet distillery in September 2010, just right after they expanded considerably. One of their standard bottles is this Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve, that is actually the follow up to their discontinued Glenlivet 12 Year Old French Oak Finish - that I've reviewed here a long time ago (17th Nov 2009).

The nose is floral and oily. I get some vanilla, strawberry and (mostly) pineapple. But also some lamp oil. I like it.

On the palate it reveals a touch of cinnamon, apple & pear, but also banana and almonds. Very creamy. Again, I like it.

The finish, that is medium in length, is creamy and sweet at the onset, but dies with a woody lining.

A very fruity Speysider with a hidden complexity, ideal during a good conversation (and with a bar of chocolate). Recommended.

In my opinion this malt has the best nose. I don't even need to drink it I could smell her all day.

This and the XXV are my favourite Glenlivets.

@jwise

The Glenlivet is not one of my favorite distilleries. I just don't find the whisky that appealing. I decided to give it another go, and try out some of Glenlivet's expressions that have escaped me.

This is the 15yr French Oak Reserve, pale straw in color, with an ABV of 40%.

Nose: Floral, with ripe fruits: apples and pears. Wow, its like I'm smelling an open can of pears in light syrup! Very aromatic. There is just a whiff of brown sugar mixed in there.

Body: Light body. Not quite watery, but nearly.

Palate: Mild spices, growing with intensity. Not the greatest flavor. The sweetness is gone, leaving just a little hint of tart.

Finish: Sour, with mild spice. Medium length finish. Very dry.

This is really too bad. The nose is wonderful on this one. Very nice, indeed. Unfortunately, that's about all this whisky has going for it. That is, unless you like sour spices. Honestly, I am not sure I want to even finish this dram. Well, might as well...

@WTC

This is an outstanding expression, all zippy spice from some virgin French oak, and scattergun oak and malt, like a couple of playful kittens tumbling over each other. This whisky is in our Get Wood tasting

Nose: Sweet, rich. Honey and vanilla, with caramel. Rich Marzipan. Palate: Oak with toasted almonds and vanilla. Finish: Toasted almonds, assorted nuts, and oak.

I tried this single malt in a Whisky event together The Glenlivet 18yrs, and i must say i rather prefer the 15yrs than the 18yrs.

I think the 15 and 18 are in the same ball park, the 12 is too bland for me but the wood in the 15 spices it up enough for my unsubtle palate. Tony

@Hogshead

I recently tried the Glenlivet Nadurra at a friends house - thoroughly enjoying it - and decided to reappraise the output of the Glenlivet distillery in my collection. I had a couple of bottles at the back of my cabinet - this one and a 12 year old with a drop left in the bottom. I decided to review the 15 French oak but using the 12 and my memory of the Nadurra as benchmarks.

Nose: a little more depth than the 12 year old but definitely a strong family resemblance - something more like ginger or burned orange pops out but not a millions miles away from the standard expression. Slightly less mossy than the 12 probably due to the new oak.

Palate: more complexity that the 12 year old, at first quite similar but then a nice piquant dryness kicks in. The French oak speaks a little louder than the casks its younger sibling resided in. For me the body is lighter than the 12 year old and it has a gentle acidity which I think I prefer. Having said that its got some stiff competition in its price range (£31-33 in the UK). If you're in the market for a Speyside in the £30-35 bracket - a couple of pounds more buys you a Glenfarclas 15 year old and for £7 less you'll easily pick up a Glenfarclas 10, which puts this one in perspective.

Finish: medium, the dryness gives way to that acidity after which a little malt remains.

Conclusion: Better than the 12 yes but 25% more expensive and not 25% better - if you can measure such a thing. How does it compare to the Nadurra? Put simply it doesn't -Nadurra is wonderful whisky, full of character, cask strength, fun and enticing. I'd be interested to see what this 15 was like unfiltered and at cask strength.

For me Glenlivet pitch much of their range to the mass market and very successfully - good luck to them. This 15 year old does nothing to entice a whisky drinker like me and that's why these bottles weren't empty yet.

I think I'm going to buy a bottle of the Nadurra which I don't think will hang around as long!

@Hogshead ... a very edifying review, and the comparisons were helpful!

Your mention of "new" French oak caught my attention. Assuming "new" actually means casks that were never before used ... I didn't realize that any scotch was matured unused oak. Also, there is the mention an oak "finish", but that was not clear from the Glenlivet website. But often the bottle label is more informative :-)

I have been trying to save my Nadurra for a special occasion ... but this exercise in self-control is getting more difficult :-)

Agree that the low £30 range is full of competition. Would be interested to know what those liking the Nadurra think of the 18yr too.

@WhiskyOClock

A good dram for introduction to scotch, but not too interesting. More complex and enjoyable than the 12 yo however there are many other, better options for your money. The nose is fruity, sweet, and (not surprisingly) oaky. Palate continues similarly with strong wood flavor and sweetness. A little bitterness comes through. Finish is medium length. I've garnered the most enjoyment from this whisky as an after dinner dram.

@cask_strength - where did you find it for $36?! I bought at $54

I liked this one though I'll agree, there's not much complexity here but if you're looking for a nice, sweet after dinner drop, you could do worse. Dependent on mood, this dram could be the nicest thing this side of the mississip or the most blah thing under the sun. But for the most part, it's just a good night time, hanging out dram.

@cask_strength - I agree, $36! Where? At that price its a whole different game... a steal. I would certainly buy in under that circumstance.

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