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Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve Single Malt Scotch Whisky (700ml)
"...having been steered on a slightly different course again it is just excellent... An expression that has evolved slowly, but quite beautifully." - Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2023
The French Oak Reserve is generally considered one of the better values in the Glenlivet stable. Jim Murray certainly thinks so, giving this mid-range malt a strong recommendation - and he's not the only one. The distillery was one of Scotland's first to employ French oak for ageing whisky. Specifically, Limousin oak, sourced from France’s Dordogne region, the only French forest that is predominantly Quercus Robur. The toughness and coarse (open) grain of the species is a result of nutrient-deficient soils, restricting vertical growth to shorter, wider trunks. It places Limousin oak at one end of the scale in terms of looseness of grain. A consequence is that the release of flavours is aggressive and more oak tannin is extracted than from other oak types, hence, it's used almost exclusively for the maturation of spirits like Cognac rather than wine. In the case of Glenlivet, the whisky is selectively finished in Limousin oak so as not to overpower the fruitiness of the distillate. The wood's low density allows the spirit to cycle deeply in and out of the staves, adding a distinctive and pleasing spiciness that's different to the vanilla-heavy American oak. Bottled at 40%, Glenlivet's French Oak Reserve is not a heavy malt, but at the right price, you do get a terrific everyday drinker.
Other reviews… Many years ago when this first came out it wasn't very good, to be honest. Then it was re-shaped, upped a gear and became a very enjoyable dram, indeed. Now having been steered on a slightly different course again it is just excellent... An expression that has evolved slowly, but quite beautifully. 93 points - Jim Murrays Whisky Bible 2023
...Antique amber color. This whisky maintains the elegance cherished by Glenlivet enthusiasts, but finishing the whisky in limousin oak produces a whisky of deeper wood notes, particularly wood spices (vanilla, sandalwood, perhaps even mint) and floral notes. It's rich, complex, and dry-especially on the finish. 90 points - whiskyadvocate.com
First whiffs pick up scents of fresh pineapple, cedar, and paraffin; later sniffings detect subtle notes of baked pear and sweet oak. Palate entry features a firm, moderately oily, and velvety texture; by midpalate, integrated flavors of ripe peach, pear drops and bran delight the taste buds. Finish is extended, semisweet and coconut-like. Replaces the 12-year-old French Oak Finish. Best Buy. 90-95 points - wineenthusiast.com
...The nose has notes of honey, oak, baked apples, ginger, dark chocolate, and hints of almond and hazelnut. The taste has cinnamon, vanilla, and baked apples, along with hints of pineapple juice and mango that add a fruity touch that lingers through the finish. (May, 2013) 90 points - whiskycast.com