Headbangers Whisky Review: Glenlivet Founders Reserve vs Glenlivet 12 Year Old

It’s time for a new series on the blog – the Headbangers! No, this is not a series of posts on the WWE wrestling duo or heavy metal band, but a series of posts where we’ll put 2 whiskies in the boxing ring and we’ll see which one fares better, get the laurels and maybe get our approval.

Although it’s a series, I will publish regular posts in between as ‘snacks’ and interludes so you won’t get bored of this too fast.

Anyway, time for the first round – we’ll pit the recently released Glenlivet Founders Reserve against the previous core range lowest offering, the well known and best seller Glenlivet 12 Year Old.

As with other releases in the last year, which some will be covered in this series, Glenlivet released Founders Reserve due to the acute problem of high demand for whisky and not enough good casks for single malt. So we get a new offering, NAS of course, that allows Glenlivet to reduce the consumption rate of those older casks they have in the warehouses. The bad news? Glenlivet Founders Reserve was almost instantly was declared as the replacement of Glenlivet 12 in some key markets such as UK and Germany. Other markets get to keep the 12 Year Old (such as the USA and other European markets) so the question is are they fortunate or maybe the Founders Reserve is a worthy replacement?

Glenlivet 12 Year Old (40%, £27.98)

Glenlivet Founders Reserve (40%, £25.95)

Soft nose with malt and sweet green apples, honey and soft oak. then some heather honey, gentle oats, vanilla and green apples pie. A bit thin and light at first but get better with some time Nose Young!, malt with some new make edge, still soft but less so, diluted retail apples drink syrup, oak and a bit of vanilla but also a bit more fresh and bodily. With time in glass: sweeter with heavier bourbon impact but still young and not much apples (mostly apples peels), feels like a highlander, not speysider.
Gentle oak followed by nuts, sweet vanilla & honey, oats, oak wood spices. Palate Ugh, starts with new make sweet syrup, nuts, caramel, oak, baking spices, malt, artificial sweetener, some bad after taste and yet it’s rounder than the 12yo.
Short medium finish with oak wood spices, nuts, green apples peels and lingering warmness. Finish Short Medium finish with bit of oak, caramel, bitterness of artificial sweetener and finally some white pepper.

Conclusions: Oh my, The Founders Reserve is a serious let down, I’d even even outright it’s a bad whisky. Tasting it head to head with the 12 Yo reveals how downgraded is it in comparison to the 12 Year Old. I guess that if I’d taste it alone I’d just mark it as a ‘meh’ whisky, but head to head I have to say it’s a bad one. I assume Glenlivet didn’t want to stick with only the 12yo as it means less cases to sell so they tried to garner up a replacement and the judge here say they utterly failed. I’m sorry for whisky drinkers in the UK & Germany who will have to settle for the Founders Reserve. My recommendation: While you can, grab some Glenlivet 12 bottles cases as the price different is minor right now. If you can’t, I recommend going up for the 15 Year Old or moving sideways to different brand. For me the Founders reserve doesn’t justify brand loyalty.


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