Glenlivet The Master Distiller's Reserve Small Batch Review

“All the Small Things”

Whisky Review # 864

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenlivet "The Master Distiller's Reserve" Small Batch (# 9378/010)
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$ 170-270 (March 2020) - Huge local price differences!
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎It's better than the regular MDR but way too expensive!
Buying Advice: 👎Better stay with the core range. I recommend the 18 Y.


Amber with shades of Orange (Artificially Coloured)


Young, Medium-Light and Sweet. Clear Sherry influences. A few Sour & Grassy notes as well. It's okay and not unpleasant. Nothing special though. Much better though than the regular MD Reserve that I reviewed earlier. Certainly a result of the better casks used for this Small Batch.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley Sugar, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Rum-Soaked Fruitcake with lots of Raisins and Sultanas, Apple, Pear, English Breakfast Marmalade, Grass, Caffe Latte, Milk Chocolate, Cinnamon, Ginger and Mint.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Caramel, Toffee, Honey, Nectarine, Mandarin, Lemon, Sugared Almonds, Wet Stones, Floral Perfume, Coconut and Wood Shavings.


Young, rather Light and Medium-Dry with Sweet, Bitter, Green and Sour Notes. The Alcohol is noticeable by now.

Main Flavours:

Barley Sugar, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Fruitcake, Green Apple, Pear, Sugared Nuts, Seville-Orange, Grass, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon and Licorice.
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Caramel, Honey, Raisins,  Mandarin, Grapefruit, Dusty Track, Mint, Caffe Latte, Metal and Nutmeg.


Middle-Long, slightly Edgy and Light with mixed Sweet, Bitter and Sour Notes. The Alcohol is a bit Sharp at this Point showing us the relative Youth of this Single Malt. I find Sweet Barley, Sugar, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Sugared Nuts, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas & Apricots, Honey, Seville Orange, Mandarin, Lemon, Caffe Latte, Floral Perfume, Green Apple, Pepper, Cinnamon, Licorice, Ginger & Mint.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this Glenlivet.

Rating: 81

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 20  - Finish: 19  - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good


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 Small Batch I'm reviewing today was launched in 2011 and is part of the Travel Retail range.

The Small Batch is a step up when compared to the regular Master Distiller's Reserve. The main reason is that better casks were used to mature the spirit. The price increased disproportionally though and that's the principal reason I can't recommend this Small Batch. By the way, Small Batches may vary from time to time of course. This Small Batch benefits from the better casks but still suffers from its Youth and the inadequate ABV. It's an okay introduction to the Single Malt market if you are a fresh whisky traveller. But it doesn't present any sufficiently interesting Aromas and Flavours for long time whisky adepts.


Jan van den Ende                                                                    March 16, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

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