Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve Whisky Review

Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve made its debut in 2014, replacing the venerable Glenlivet 12 year old, the distillery’s previous entry-level offering. With Founder’s Reserve, Glenlivet hopes to carry on the company’s tradition of producing fine whiskeys according to founder George Smith’s vision.

The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve is an entry level no age-statement whisky. I would venture to say that it serves as a nice, bright summer dram to refresh the palate. When I think of The Glenlivet, of course the first thing that comes to mind is the Scottish Highlands. Then, I think of Alan Winchester, who I believe is one of the finest master distillers at a large distillery.

Does Founder’s Reserve live up to Glenlivet’s reputation for quality whiskeys at less-than-premium prices? As it turns out, there is something to this decidedly creamy and fruity whisky that makes it something of a modern classic in the proud Glenlivet tradition. Read on to find out more…

Quick facts

  • Country: Scotch
  • Region: Speyside
  • Distillery: Glenlivet
  • ABV: 40%
Age: 12 years


The way that a small 50ml bottle of a spirit can emulate the full version is truly impressive. This single malt scotch was matured and bottled in Scotland. What’s more we know that The Glenlivet was established in 1824 as it’s clearly centered below Founder’s Reserve in even larger type. The color is a straw hay/white wine golden, with large droplets that whistle as they slowly tip-toe down the glass.


When pressed to describe Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve’s nose, one word comes to mind: fruity. This is the dominant aroma characteristic of the whiskey. The other tones aren’t quite as easy to pick up.

Give it a few more sniffs, and certain sweet aromas begin to unfold. In particular, we detected candy, toffee, and a hint of caramel blended in with the fruitiness. This makes for a pleasant blend that we found even more enchanting the more we took it in.

Some of our keener testers noted a slight hint of salinity. Upon further investigation, this was revealed to be a sort of plum and apricot blend that was decidedly sharp, if a bit subtle.

As for the dominant fruity component, our testers broke it down to orange zest, raisins, and chocolate, along with an intriguing note that was reminiscent of struck matches. Notes of pear, cinnamon, and honeysuckle prevented us from making full-blown comparisons with sherry.


On to the flavor, Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve revealed even more of its fruity character. This whisky is decidedly sweet, with a strong toffee component. Swirl it around in your mouth, and you begin to pick up some anise, milk chocolate, and even apple pie flavors.

One of the most interesting aspects of Founder’s Reserve is how closely the flavor follows the nose. We get the distinct impression of a sweet and smooth taste combination that is almost reminiscent of cream. The delicate citrus notes further add to the mystique of the whisky’s character.


The finish is something else entirely. The fruity character has all but faded at this point, leaving behind a more dominant creamy toffee character. Accents are provided by oak and sweet barley tones, along with milk chocolate and raisins.

The finish is suitably long as well, especially when compared with other whiskeys we’ve tried. This provides ample opportunity to enjoy the lingering sweet tastes and enchanting aromas.


Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve is an interesting whisky that should find a welcome place in any dinner or drink list. We found it a tad bit sweet, to be honest, but this is something that could be easily remedied with a splash of water.

If you have any doubt as to the quality of Founder’s Reserve, keep in mind that Master Distiller Alan Winchester has been known to enjoy a glass or two. If you ever have the opportunity to pick up a bottle, you might want to try it with a bit of ice just the way the Master likes it.

How to enjoy Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve

As with all whiskeys, we strongly suggest that you try drinking yours neat at least once or twice. Drinking it without water or ice will enable the whisky to express its full character, giving you a good idea of the range of flavors that are in it. In most cases, this is how the creator intended you to drink the whisky. You wouldn’t want to go against the wishes of the creator, would you?

After you’ve given neat a try, you could add water or ice if you wish. Many blenders and experienced drinkers recommend diluting whisky to about 20% ABV (alcohol by volume). This should reveal any minute anomalies and flavor characteristics.

If you opt to add water, consider adding a little bit at a time. Neutral water is always best, as it won’t impart any unwanted flavors into the spirit.

As for ice, always go for large cubes or ice balls whenever possible. These tend to melt slower than regular ice cubes, so they won’t dilute the delicate flavors. If you want to preserve your whiskey characteristics as long as possible, look into purchasing whisky stones or steel balls that you store in your freezer until you need to use them.

Ideal food pairings with Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve

Whisky goes well with an amazingly varied array of foods. From sweet to savory, and all points in between, there is nothing that good whisky won’t improve. Here are some food suggestions you could try pairing with Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve:

Dark Chocolate. Chocolate goes amazingly well with strong liquors and spirits. Paired with Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, they will complement each other nicely.

whisky chocolate

Here’s a word of advice, though: go for good quality dark chocolate instead of the sweet milk chocolate bars left over from Halloween. This will bring out Founder’s Reserve’s subtle flavor tones better than milk chocolate, which is better suited for rye whiskeys.

Cheese. Wine isn’t the only drink that goes well with cheese. You could also pair Founder’s Reserve with a wide variety of cheeses. Aged cheddar is an excellent choice that will bring out the smokiness of whisky. You could also try a strong blue cheese or even soft cheeses such as brie or goat cheese.

whisky cheese

Dried fruits and nuts. These are also classic matches for whisky. Feel free to mix and match different nuts and fruits as you please to bring out the flavor characteristics you like. You really can’t go wrong with most combinations, although it is advisable to give some thought to your selection of nuts.

whisky dried fruit

Steaks. Who doesn’t love a good steak? Red wine is the traditional drink of choice with steak, but there’s no reason why a good whisky such as Founder’s Reserve wouldn’t work just as well. The rich, deep flavor or the whisky perfectly complements steak, especially if it is grilled.


8.5 Total Score
Glenlivet Founder's Reserve Whisky Review

Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve is an interesting whisky that should find a welcome place in any dinner or drink list. We found it a tad bit sweet, to be honest, but this is something that could be easily remedied with a splash of water.

The First Subscription for Craft Drinks Enthusiasts

Subscribe To The BoozeMakers Newsletter

Don't worry, we don't spam