The Glenlivet Founder's Reserved Review - Best on the rocks or with water

The Glenlivet Founder's Reserve
The Glenlivet Distillery
Taste Score: 79
Category: Single Malt Ccotch, NAS
Whisky Cabinet Score: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Whenever I go to Glenlivet tastings, the Glenlivet Brand Ambassadors recommends a half-whisky and half-water mixture for the Founder's Reserve. Already, there's a problem. I rarely water down my whisky, and Glenlivet Founder's Reserve is bottled at the minimum of 40% ABV. 

If you're a whisky enthusiasts that drinks whisky in a Glencairn glass, and often either has it neat or with a few drops of water, Glenlivet Founder's Reserve is not likely to be your whisky of choice. You're the reason Glenlivet makes cask strength flavour bombs like their Nadurra release. Glenlivet Founder's Reserve is intended to be had in a rocks glass, with some water, and possibly ice. There's nothing wrong with having scotch on ice or water, but it's not likely to appeal to whisky enthusiasts that read my whisky reviews. 

There is, however, a good reason to add water to Glenlivet. The Founder’s Reserve (like the 12 Year Old it somewhat replaces) has a bitter note that starts through the middle and trails into the finish. Some like bitter, and I love bitter beers, but it in a whisky it can ruin the flow. That's especially true if it moves toward burnt butter, or fat that’s been cooked off the steak. On a steak, it’s part of the charm, but on a bright salad those fatty notes can offend the palate (But how untrue that can be with fatty duck breast!). Glenlivet is a bright floral whisky. The bitter burnt oil takes over the finish in an unpleasant way.

Adding water to Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve brightens up the zesty notes, pops the highs, and removes the bitterness in the finish. Yes, this whisky tastes better at 20% to 30% ABV compared to the 40% ABV it’s bottled at. Those initial bright notes on the nose are really quite nice. The

Founder’s Reserve is, in my mind, a more modern interpretation of the 12 Year Old. It’s intended as a crowd pleaser. It’s best served with water or in a rocks glass on ice. I suspect many of Glenlivet's fans drink it as such and it's quite nice for that purpose. 

Nose: Ginger soda pop—citrus, malt, hay, bright and inviting. Caramel notes come through over time, but they're a muted with some notes of plastic. 

Palate: Lots of warm citrus that moves into warm caramel notes, with a trollip of oiliness. The finish is high on soda sweetness and oily bitterness. 

Conclusion: Young, bright scotch that lacks that spice from oak, and lacks the depth of time. It is comparable to other whiskies at this price-point, and best served with water. 

Disclaimer: Thank you to Glenlivet for providing me a sample of this product. It carried no influence over my review. 

*Whisky Cabinet Rating Explained:

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆  Not recommended
★ ☆ ☆ ☆  Good whisky, but not a ‘must-have’
★ ★ ☆ ☆  Your great regular rotation whisky that'll come and go
★ ★ ★ ☆  Excellent, a near must-have
★ ★ ★ ★  Extraordinary, memorable, and original