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Glenlivet 12 vs Glenrothes 12: Which Wins?

Discover the differences between Glenlivet 12 vs Glenrothes 12 in this head to head comparison and decide which Single Malt is better for You!

Glenlivet 12

NoseToasted cereal, honey, pear
PalateVanilla, ripe fruit
FinishShort, honey, vanilla
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkNeat, add water, rocks
Similar toGlenfiddich 12, Macallan 12

The nose is faint, with hints of notes of toasted cereal, honey and pear.

On the palate, the Glenlivet 12 is creamy and overly smooth, with vanilla flavor and fruity notes.

Finish is quite short with more sweet and vanilla notes.

The Glenlivet 12 is smooth with not a hint of harshness, peat, smoke or any complicated note. Its mellow and rich in notes of vanilla and honey.

This might well be the smoothest 12 year single malt Scotch to drink as it has neither smoky nor bitter oaky notes, although it lacks complexity or any memorable flavor. Let’s call it a “plain vanilla” whisky.

This is a whisky that you can easily drink neat or straight, but if you want to make it better it add a splash water.

Just a few drops of water will open-up the whisky allowing rich floral notes to emerge enhancing sweetness; this is how Scots drink whisky.

You could use the Glenlivet as a mixer but I would rather use a cheaper option and a bit more peppery to add a kick to my homemade cocktail.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Glenlivet:

  • The Glenlivet 12 was aged for a dozen years using mostly ex-bourbon and European oak casks.

  • This distiller uses wooden washbacks to ferment the mash. This adds a characteristic flavor to the whisky as opposed to fermenting in steel.

  • Earned Gold at the International Spirits Challenge.

Glenrothes 12

NoseSherry, apple, vanilla, sulfur
PalateHazelnut, chocolate, honey, melon
FinishShort, oak spice, melon
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkNeat or add water
Similar toGlenfiddich 12, Macallan 12

On the nose, the Glenrothes hits with sherry aroma at first, followed by baked apple and vanilla. There is light sulfuric note coming behind that is not terrible but unpleasant ruining what could have been a good start.

On the palate, this malt feels somewhat creamy providing a good mouthfeel. Flavor is mostly sweet, rich in honey, hazelnut and chocolate, along a melon note.

The finish is short, with more melon to it and a hit of oak spice bringing a bitter note.

Adding water releases caramel but does nothing for the finish that remains a bit bitter.

Glenrothes is a sweet and smooth Scotch, completely drinkable, at a good price for a 12 year old Single Malt, although the nose has a bad sulfuric note and the finish bitter spice making me consider further options.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Glenrothes 12:

  • Aged for 12 years entirely in sherry seasoned oak.

  • Graded as “95 points & Great Value” at the 2019 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.

  • Received “5 Stars & Highest Recommendation” by the F. Paul Pacult’s 2018 Spirit Journal.

  • Glenrothes was founded in 1879 and is now owned by the Scotland-based Edrington Group along Macallan and Highland Park.

Glenlivet 12 vs Glenrothes 12: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Glenlivet 12$50
Glenrothes 12$51

Glenlivet 12 vs Glenrothes 12: Which is better?

Glenlivet is an easier drinker

WhiskeyGlenlivet 12Glenrothes
  • There’s no better whisky for beginners than the Glenlivet 12 as it has not one harsh or complicated note making a very easy and smooth malt.
  • It lacks in depth and complexity but definitely a great starting point or a solid option for those who you want an easy night cap.
  • The Glenrothes has a good sweet and smooth taste, but the nose is not the best and the finish becomes bitter making me prefer the Glenlivet.

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