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This is the new NAS Glenlivet - not sure if it is meant to replace the popular 12 Year Old, or if it has just been added to the range. It comes wrapped in a copy of the original license to distill, issued in 1824 to founder George Smith, and contained in a box with a nice eye-catching blue colour. Not sure why it's called Founder's Reserve, as it neither belongs to the founder (who died over a hundred years ago), nor is it from reserve stocks (I'm sure they have this stuff a-runnin' off the still at breakneck speed). Ah, marketing.
The colour is a medium gold. On the nose there is crisp barley, green apples, underripe bananas, pineapple and citrus notes such as orange and lemon. Background hints of vanilla, caramel and milk chocolate speak to well-used bourbon barrels. A bit grassy, more so with water. Rather quiet but pleasant in a timid way.
The palate is quite nondescript, with vague traces of malt, orange, apple and spice. A bit of honey as well, with herbs and more vanilla. But all these notes are very muted - definitely needs more oomph. Water doesn't help the palate, making things rather spirity and astringent. Disappointing, and speaks to its youth.
The finish is mouth-watering with more green apple, banana skin and a bit of oak. The Glenlivet 12 Year Old is known for being very light and unassuming (I like it as a nice starter to a tasting, or aperitif - it's a little underrated, in my opinion). But if you think that one is light, wait until you try this. If the 12 is dialled up to a 7, this one is down around 4. It has many of the same notes that make it unmistakably Glenlivet, but it just needs a bit more. As someone once wrote, there is no there there.