Hello my dear followers and whisky lovers!
This post is dedicated to one of the biggest names in scotch industry today and the first part of the article is a little bit of a historical introduction to those of you who want to know more about the history of Scotch whisky. To those who are only interested in my review of The Founders Reserve, please scroll a little bit down.
Up until 1823, whiskey making was an illegal business that thrived in Scotland, due to its wonderful, but unreachable nature, where the distillers could hide away and go about their clandestine operation. Seeing that they were out of options on stopping the people to drinking illegally made spirit, the Government decided that at least they could earn some coin and so the Excise Act came into force. If you wanted to distil and sell your product without smuggling it through the glens under and armed escort all you had to do is pay a license fee. This act set the grounds for the whisky industry as it is today.
A one George Smith, who at the time ran an illicit distillery in Speyside, in the parish of Glenlivet, applied and was granted a license to produce the spirit. Of course, a bunch of other illicit distillers from the region were not too keen on following his example, in the hope that the Act would be repealed. As a result of threats that his now legal distillery would burn with him in the heart of it, he wielded two flintlock pistols, for both his own protection, and that of the distillery and the precious and unique liquid produced there.
In 1871, his newly built distillery was inherited by his son, John Gordon Smith, who again had problems with the competition, but instead of arming himself with two flintlock pistols, he armed himself with two sharp – lawyers. Yes, lawyers. Because of the smoothness and the quality of the whisky his distillery produced, a lot of competitors started labelling their product as “Glenlivet”. He only partially succeeded – the courts verdict forced other distillers to stop calling their product Glenlivet, and awarded J.G. Smith and his master blender, Andrew Usher sole rights to use the brand Glenlivet, and ever since it is labelled as THE Glenlivet. On the flipside, other distillers could add an addition of Glenlivet to their distillery name and it almost served as a terroir designation of sorts. The practice lasted well into the 20th century, and it is possible to find bottles of famous brands with “Glenlivet” added to them, such as Balvenie-Glenlivet, Glenfarclass-Glenlivet, Maccalan-Glenlivet, etc.
Today, The Glenlivet brand is owned by the Chivas Brothers who use it in their Chivas Regal blends. It is the second best-selling Single Malt, breathing down the neck of Grant`s Family Glenfiddich brand.
This post is dedicated to the history of The Glenlivet, so the dram I had while writing this was The Glenlivet Founder`s Reserve 1824 Edition, a Non Age Statement whisky selected from both traditional oak and first fill American casks. This edition has replaced the 12 year old bottling on many markets, so let`s see what can you expect. Bear in mind that I never tried a classic 12 year old before, only the First Fill edition.
The nose is really lovely, but somewhat plain and there is nothing sticking out of the bouquet which consists of citrus zest, mainly lemon and orange, subtle vanilla and pears, a dash of mint, and some red fruit, perhaps forest berries. It packs an unusual alcoholic punch though, so I found this perfect over a cube of ice or with a dash of water.
Palate is a bit dry and bitter later on, with a fine malt presence and some toasted nuts in the background. It leaves a mellow and smooth aftertaste that does not linger long at all, and it is mostly stingy and sweet, with dominate malt notes and some ginger.
All in all, I am a bit disappointed, as the main thing this malt lacks is character. I have drunk blended Scotch with more flavour and character than this, and although it is a smooth sipping whisky and it goes well in classic cocktails, it fails to deliver the fullness of flavour one would expect from a single malt.
Definitely not worth the price tag of 30€, but if you can try it out in a bar or get a bottle on offer, then go for it. You will enjoy it to a point and your friends will certainly not turn it down, as it is still a good and smooth whisky – just feels a little empty to those who are used to highly aromatic stuff.
Personally, I will stick to Glenlivet`s 12 and 15 year old expressions, as they have more to offer in terms of flavour and character, and I have yet to try out the 18 year old or the Nadurra series, I`ve heard only words of praise about those editions.
For the mixes; I made Whisky Sours, Whisky Highballs with ginger ale and soda water, and the Founders works very well when mixed, so it is also a great summer sipping whisky in the warm days to come.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the Founders Reserve, so please comment below.
Next weekI will be reviewing the Glenlivet 15 YO French Oak Reserve, and hopefully I will publish the first part of the “Wood creates the whisky series”, in which I will analyse and present to you the importance of various types of casks in whisky production.