The Best Bottles of Glenlivet Whisky for Every Occasion


Glenlivet is one of the biggest selling single malt whisky brands in the world but which of their whiskies are the best and for which occasions. In order to find out I did some (enjoyable) research and here’s what I found.

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Best For Flavor: The Glenlivet XXV

A bottle of Glenlivet XXV

The XXV is the best Glenlivet whisky when it comes to flavor. That’s because it’s the expression where the Glenlivet profile is at its most flavorful. To better explain what I mean, here are the eleven main Glenlivet whiskies and what they’re like in terms of flavor.

The Glenlivet 12 Year Old Double Oak

This is a sweet and tasty whisky that’s very easy to drink. It’s not complex but the flavors it does have go very well together. It’s also incredibly smooth.

The Glenlivet 14 Year Old

This whisky has the basic Glenlivet profile – so it’s sweet, tasty and smooth, but because it’s also matured in ex-cognac casks it also has a well-balanced cognac influence.

The Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve

This whisky also has the basic Glenlivet profile but because it’s also matured in French oak casks for a limited amount of time, it also has some non-sherry fruity sweetness.

The Glenlivet 18 Year Old Batch Reserve

The Glenlivet 18 has the same flavor profile as the 12 (because unlike the 14 it’s not matured in ex-cognac casks and unlike the 15 it’s not matured in French oak casks), but the six extra years give it much more depth and complexity.

The Glenlivet 21 Year Old Archive

After 21 years of maturation, the Glenlivet profile is very well developed. That’s why this whisky has lots of flavors. It’s sweet, extremely smooth, complex and very well balanced. It’s a delicious, enjoyable whisky.

The Glenlivet XXV

The XXV is even better than the 21. It’s delicious with a lot of well-balanced flavors, and it’s sweet, smooth and complex all the way through.

The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve

This is a very young whisky, so it has even less depth and complexity than the 12 but some of it is finished in casks that previously held Caribbean rum, which gives this whisky a prominent rum sweetness.

The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve

This is also a very young whisky with even less depth and complexity than the 12 but it’s still good and easy to drink. It’s sweet, smooth and tasty.

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso

This is a cask strength whisky so it’s tasty despite being relatively young – it has no age statement. And since it’s matured in first-fill Oloroso sherry oak casks it has a prominent sherry character.

The Glenlivet Nàdurra First Fill Selection

This is also a cask strength whisky, but it’s aged in new American white oak casks (not ex-bourbon casks) which adds a lot of depth and complexity to the Glenlivet profile, making this a flavorful whisky with a nice combination of sweet and fruit notes.

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish

This cask strength whisky is finished in casks that previously held heavily peated Scotch, so it’s relatively complex with well-balanced flavors and a light peat that doesn’t dominate the whisky.

As you can see, it’s the older Glenlivet whiskies that are the most flavorful. The 18 is where you really start to see the depth and complexity of the Glenlivet flavor profile, which is even better in the 21 and best in the XXV. That’s why the Glenlivet XXV is the best Glenlivet whisky when it comes to flavor.

For more information on these whiskies, see my in-depth review of them here.

Best For Price: The Glenlivet 18 Year Old

A bottle of Glenlivet 18 Year Old Batch Reserve

The Glenlivet 18 Year Old Batch Reserve is the best Glenlivet whisky when it comes to price. To help me explain why that is, here’s a list of the eleven main Glenlivet whiskies and their approximate prices for a 750ml bottle:

WhiskyPrice
The Glenlivet 12 Year Old Double Oak$50
The Glenlivet 14 Year Old$63
The Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve$80
The Glenlivet 18 Year Old Batch Reserve$138
The Glenlivet 21 Year Old Archive$295
The Glenlivet XXV$460
The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve$42
The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve$42
The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso$94
The Glenlivet Nàdurra First Fill Selection$92
The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish$90

Most Glenlivet whiskies are pretty good value for money. The 12, 14, 15 and 18 are understandably progressively more expensive but they’re a good price for what they are. The same applies to the Nàdurra range and although they’re some of the more expensive Glenlivet expressions, they’re a relatively reasonable price for a cask strength whisky.

The Caribbean Reserve and Founder’s Reserve are the cheapest Glenlivet whiskies because they’re very young and non-complex.

Only the Glenlivet 21 Year Old and the Glenlivet XXV are expensive for what they are (or to be more accurate – very expensive for what they are), which is a shame because it would have been better if the best Glenlivet whisky for flavor (the XXV) would also have been the best Glenlivet whisky for price.

Which is why I think that the Glenlivet 18 Year Old is the best Glenlivet whisky when it comes to price. It’s not the Glenlivet profile at its most flavorful, but it is the Glenlivet profile at its most flavorful before the gap between value and price becomes too big for most people.

Best For Cognac Flavors: The Glenlivet 14 Year Old

A bottle of Glenlivet 14 Year Old

The Glenlivet 14 Year Old is the best Glenlivet whisky for cognac flavors.

That’s because it’s matured in first-fill ex-bourbon American oak casks, first-fill ex-sherry casks and ex-cognac casks. So, it has the basic Glenlivet profile – sweet, tasty and smooth, and a well-balanced cognac influence.

If you like the Glenlivet flavor profile and you like cognac flavors, then the Glenlivet 14 Year Old will be the best Glenlivet whisky for you.

Best For Rum Flavors: The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve

A bottle of Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve

The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve is the best Glenlivet whisky for rum flavors.

That’s because some of the whisky that makes up the Caribbean Reserve is finished in casks that previously held Caribbean rum, which gives this whisky a prominent rum sweetness.

If you like the Glenlivet flavor profile and you like rum sweetness, then the Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve will be the best Glenlivet whisky for you.

Best For Sherry Flavors: The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso

A bottle of Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso is the best Glenlivet whisky for sherry flavors.

That’s because it’s matured in first-fill Oloroso sherry oak casks which gives the whisky a sherry character. It’s not a sherry bomb, but on the other hand, there’s enough sherry that it might be overpowering the basic Glenlivet profile a little too much.

Nevertheless, if you like the Glenlivet flavor profile and you like sherry, then the Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso will be the best Glenlivet whisky for you.

Best For Peat Flavors: The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated

A bottle of Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish is the best Glenlivet whisky for peat flavors.

That’s because it’s finished in casks that previously held heavily peated Scotch.

Now normally, peated whiskies are made by using peat to fuel the kiln that’s drying the barley used to make the whisky, so this is a very unusual way of making a whisky with peat flavors. But since most Glenlivet whiskies aren’t peated, it would presumably be too much effort and expense to make this one in the usual way.

On the other hand, the advantage of being made in this unusual way is that the peat character is relatively light, so if you want to try peated whiskies but don’t want to start with an intense Islay peat monster, then the Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish will be the best Glenlivet whisky for you.

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Josh Mitchell

I'm Josh Mitchell. I love whiskey and am working on increasing my whiskey tasting abilities and my collection.

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