Glenlivet Master Distillers Reserve Review

“Ballad of a Thin Man”

Whisky Review # 836

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenlivet "The Master Distiller's Reserve"
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Mix of Sherry Butts, American Oak and Traditional Oak casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 35-50 (October 2019)
Price/Quality Ratio: Okay. At least it's not too expensive.
Buying Advice: 😒 Bland and Thin. Not at all my thing! 


Golden with shades of Orange (Artificially Coloured)


Light, Young, Sweet, Fruity and Grassy. I notice the presence of Re-Fill casks. I get a few slightly Sour notes as well. The Sherry Wood is hardly noticeable. All in all a bit boring!

Main Aromas:

Barley Sugar, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Grass and Straw, Raisins, Artificially Flavored Candies (Pineapple, Pear, Green Apple),  Sugared Almonds, Cinnamon, and Ginger.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Buttered Toast, Brown Sugar, Mandarin, Lemon, Wet Stones, Caffe Latte, Milk Chocolate, Floral Soap, Wood Shavings and Mint.


Young, Thin, Light, Bitter-Sweet and Medium Dry. A few Sour notes as well. The Alcohol is very present. Quite disappointing really.

Main Flavours:

Barley Sugar, Caramel, Vanilla, Orange Peel, Green Apple, Raisins, Grass & Straw, Nuts and Nutshells, Wood-Shavings, Cinnamon, Ginger, Mint & Nutmeg.
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Heather-Honey, Mandarin, Grapefruit, Pear, Dusty Track, Acetone, Tin cans, Pepper and Caffe Latte.


Short, Light, Young and Nervous. A mix of Sugary-Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes. The Alcohol bites a little. I find Barley Sugar, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Raisins, Orange, Mandarin, Lemon, Nuts & Nutshells, Apple, Cinnamon, Ginger, Pepper, Menthol and Caffe Latte.  

Drinking Advice:

Added Water totally kills this Thin Single Malt.

Rating: 77

Nose: 20 - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 18.5 - Overall: 19 

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay


The Glenlivet Distillery is located in Ballindalloch (Banfshire) and was founded in 1824 by George Smith. Since 2001 it is owned by Chivas Brothers Pernod Ricard and in 2018 a new extension of the distillery was approved that will increase the production to around 21 million litres making it the largest Single Malt distillery in Scotland. The Core range includes The Founder's Reserve (NAS), the 12, 15, 18 and 21 Years as well as the XXV and the Captain's Reserve. The Master Distiller's Reserve I'm reviewing today was launched in 2011 and is part of the Travel Retail range.

If I would be the Master-Distiller at The Glenlivet I would not want to give my signature to this Bleak, Bland, Thin and Boring Single Malt. I bought this at the Sao Paulo Airport as a package together with the Master Distiller's Small Batch Reserve. I hope that one will be better. Today's Master Distiller's Reserve did not bring me any joy at all!


Jan van den Ende                                                                  October 3, 2019

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

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