Glenlivet 12 Review

Glenlivet 12 Review

Glenlivet 12 is the signature offering from the Glenlivet distillery which was established in 1824 and has been a favorite single malt for many generations of drinkers around the world. Currently it’s the #1 selling single malt Scotch brand here in America and #2 in the world. It’s an unpeated malt whisky that’s light, accessible, tasty, easy to drink and a shade boring.

A starting point for many budding Scotch lovers its light clean flavor is so tasty and accessible that it can often change the mind of people who think they don’t like scotch, especially if they associate scotch with peat. In fact the only things I would say are better “intro” scotches would be Glenfiddich 12 and Glenmorangie 10. None of these, including Glenlivet, have that smoky / peaty character that turns a lot of people off and instead leans more heavily towards honey and fruit flavors.

Glenlivet 12 Info

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Distiller: Glenlivet
Mashbill: 100% Malted barley
Cask: ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry
Age: 12 years
ABV: 40%

Price: $28

Glenlivet 12 Review

Dark copper with medium legs

Very light nose with malt and vanilla making up the core of the aroma. Hints of light orchard fruit, citrus, honey, graham cracker and a sweet strawberry like sweetness make up the rest.

Like the nose this is a very lightly flavored whisky. Malt and vanilla are again the major players with some grassy notes, honey, red licorice and some light orchard fruit rounding out the palate.

Wood, malt and an ambiguous sweetness hang around for a long time on a slightly dry finish.

Decently balanced with a medium body and a small amount of burn on an otherwise light and easy texture.

Despite saying it’s a shade boring I do indeed like the Glenlivet 12. It’s always good to get back to the basics from time to time and if you need a decent bottle of scotch for an evening with your friends that won’t break the bank then Glenlivet 12 will do fantastically. It’s versatile in that it’s tasty neat, holds up decently with an ice cube and is cheap enough that you don’t feel bad using it in a good cocktail; it makes a great Rob Roy. It’s sweet malty fruity nature is always a welcomed profile.

SCORE: 85/100 (B)

Glenlivet 12 Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 85
  • Palate - 85
  • Finish - 85
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 85


Glenlivet 12 is a great whisky when all you want is a tasty sipper.

Glenlivet 12 Label


Glenlivet 12: Last Glass Update (07-01-16)

The soft vanilla notes expressed themselves more as the Glenlivet 12 slowly ticked towards empty. The malt gracefully faded back behind the vanilla, but still remained a premiere player in the flavor profile. On the nose caramel and butterscotch became more expressive as did the initially underlying sweetness which turned more sherry like and less strawberry like as it progressed. The aftertaste picked up some qualities of melon and ash.
Here with the last dram of the Glenlivet 12 I feel like it deserves another point. The flavors expressed and became more cohesive as it went down and started edging closer to daily drinker territory, but came up just short of that goal for me. It’s a good whisky that’s easy to enjoy, but not one I want in my glass on a regular basis. Just an occasional one.
FINAL VERDICT: Glenlivet 12 is simple, tasty and completely worth the price.
Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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10 Responses to Glenlivet 12 Review

  1. “Despite saying it’s a shade boring I do indeed like it.”

    That sentence hit the nail right on the head for this one. It’s not anything that wows me or even induces me to go out and purchase a bottle, but I’m certainly not disappointed if it’s the main Scotch available when I’m on vacation or traveling. And it’s usually very reasonable, which is another plus.

    • This and Glenfiddich 12 are the usual culprits at events and I’m glad when they are because it used to be Johnny Red, Black if you were lucky, was all that showed up.

  2. I have been drinking Glenlivet (12) for years and have found that it is the best of
    single malt scotchs. However,last week I bought a bottle at CVS in Roseville Ca. Today, I opened the bottle and poured a drink. I can’t believe it but the taste was bitter and it burned my throat! I paid $32.91 for the bottle. I doubt that there isn’t any recourse here, however, I certainly feel bad that I have to change to another brand.

  3. I have been enjoying Glenlivet 12 and 15 often. Recently I found that the 12 yr has lost it’s flavor. There is no vanilla and honey. It is linear and alcoholic. I tried different bottles and different stores. The taste is wanting, lacking the smooth flavorful Glenlivet that knew and enjoyed. Where can I find another $33.00 bottle that will satisfy?

  4. Hey Josh, great review!! One question: You wrote that Glenlivet 12 is matured in ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks. Where did you get that info? The Glenlivet website says that it’s matured in American oak (presumably ex-bourbon) but there’s no mention of ex-sherry casks. Is this insider’s info? Thank you again.

    • Hey Alan, their site used to say both and brand reps talk about both, but it’s always been a small amount, like less than 10%. Maybe they’ve changed to all ex-Bourbon lately. Cheers!

  5. My wife and I are big lovers of Glen L 12 year. Odd though, we pay $69 her in West Texas. Wonder where I can get it cheaper?

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