Okay, as Scotch Whiskies go, it's a battle of the heavyweights, Glenfiddich 15-year-old distillery whiskey or Glenlivet 15-year-old whiskey. And can the average whiskey drinker even tell them apart?
Here is some background to consider:
Glenfiddich vs Glenlivet whiskey popularity
Glenlivet is far and away the number one whiskey sold in the United States. Glenfiddich on the other hand boasts the global title of being the most popular Scotch in the world.
So the nod, though not by much, goes to Glenfiddich.
Glenlivet is manufactured by Chivas Brothers, which in turn is owned by the much larger Pernod Ricard which manufactures many different brands of spirits throughout the world.
Glenfiddich, on the other hand, has been and continues to be independent of any outside intervention under the operation of William Grant & Sons who do make other brands of spirits but started from the beginning distilling Glenfiddich whiskey.
Here Glenfiddich gets the note for being totally independent.
Glenlivet was first produced back in 1824, while Glenfiddich was not produced until 63 years later.
The Glenlivet distillery has a significantly better background story because prior to 1824, all distilleries in the Speyside region of Scotland were operated illegally.
However, in late 1823, a push was made for distilleries to make alcohol legally (with the taxes being a great incentive), and in 1824 a local businessman named George Smith obtained one of the first licenses which became The Glenlivet Distillery.
Smith, who operated his plant freely and had no fear of law enforcement angered many of the illegal distillery owners, and had many threats on his life between 1824 and 1871 when he passed, and quite frequently was forced to defend the distillery with gunfire.
By the time Glenfiddich distillery was developed in 1886, the landscape had changed significantly in Scotland and it was no longer the West.
Historically then, we'll give the nod to Glenlivet.
How the whiskey is produced is very important to many whiskey connoisseurs. Glenfiddich produces its whisky the old-fashioned way. There are 31. swan-necked copper stills at the Glenfiddich distillery. All of the stills are hand-made by copper craftsmen and the distillery hires a number of local craftsmen to maintain them.
On the other hand, the average whisky drinker probably couldn’t care less about how the whisky came to be in the bottle. Just that it tastes good.
Glenlivet is fully automated with a single person being able to control the distillation process of the whiskey at one time.
Does it really make a difference? Like many long-time whiskey drinkers, we think it does and therefore, will give the nod to Glenfiddich.
What about price
A 700-liter bottle of Glenlivet 15 years old single malt whiskey will run Australian buyers about $99 per bottle. Meanwhile, a comparison bottle of Glenfiddich 15-year-old single malt Scotch will run nearly $20 more at between $117 to $130 dollars per bottle.
If the price is of great significance to you, then go with Glenlivet.
Nose and palate?
Here it's strictly an opinion of course, but there are distinct differences and the nose and the palate between the two.
As far as the nose is concerned, Glenfiddich has a distinct, more fruity and delicate nose to the whiskey.
To the nose, Glenlivet is bolder, with more of a malt taste. Some say that Glenlivet has a distinct citrus flavor to it as well, whereas Glenfiddich has a gentler, pear flavoring
To the palate, Glenfiddich threads the line beautifully between the traditional Grassiness of the Speyside region. Having a glass of Glenfiddich is like having a great cigar. There are simply so many flavors brought together at once that the palate is simply amazed.
In terms of the palate, Glenlivet follows its nose in being louder and bolder. There is more of a kick to the whisky which some people enjoy and others loathe.
There is an element of hotness to the Glenlivet and the spices such as oak and citrus are less subtle.
Here, Glenfiddich gets the edge simply because it is more of milder and complex whisky. However, Glenlivet would be a great party drink to liven up the mood.
What about the whisky range of the two distilleries?
Here were emphasizing the premium 15-year-old whiskeys but it is good to know the range of the whiskeys produced. Glenlivet produces whiskey in the 12, 15, 18, 21, and 28-year-old varieties.
Glenfiddich and 12, 15, 18, and 21 varieties but also special blends including 30, 40, and even 50-year-old varieties. Glenfiddich then has a significantly wider range.
What about awards?
Both Glenlivet and Glenfiddich have won a number of spirit awards throughout the world, For example, Glenlivit captured a number of awards in 2019 and the World Whiskey Awards.
Meanwhile, Glenfiddich won eight gold medals at the International Spirits Challenge awards.
Glenfidditch highlighted single malt scotch
In 1963, Glenfiddich made a bold step and began to advertise single malt Scotch. Prior to that, almost all scotch was blended scotch from more than one distillery.
Glenfiddich single handedly changed the perception of the Scotch drinking world.
Single malt Scotch is brewed at a single distillery and then must be aged in oak casks for a minimum of three years.
Single malt whiskeys are deemed a premium product, and the vast majority of whiskeys sold in the world are blended whiskeys coming from two or more breweries.
As we noted, Glenlivet has been the most popular whiskey in America for several years, while Glenfiddich is the most popular worldwide.
Glenfiddich 15 from The Whisky Club, in particular, is very popular. Here is one of the best places for Australians to obtain quality whiskies for less.
But whether you prefer Glenlivet, with its bold taste, or Glenfiddich with its subtle, fruity flavors, either one is fantastic with good foods and good friends in Australia.
Try some today, but naturally, by all means, drink responsibly.