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Glenfiddich vs Glenlivet

Charl Joost
Last Updated: August 8th, 2023

We have decided to put two of the most popular whiskies, Glenfiddich and Glenlivet, up against one another. These whiskies can easily be confused with each other, but they are anything but the same. While they do have their similarities, Glenfiddich and Glenlivet have several key differences that make them unique.

Let’s take a look at what made these drinks what they are today and see why they are so popular.

Glenfiddich vs Glenlivet

glenlivet 14-year-old

Established in 1887, Glenfiddich is a Scottish whisky brand. It was started by a man with a dream. This man, William Grant along with his nine children set out and built his distillery by hand.

The construction started in 1886 and just one year later the building was complete. William chose to name his brand Glenfiddich, which means Valley of the Deer in Gaelic.

Today, Glenfiddich is still fully family-owned by the fifth-generation family distiller, William Grant & Sons. Thanks to their hard work and determination, Glenfiddich has become the world’s most awarded Single Malt Whisky.

It was not until 1963 when William’s great-grandson promoted the Whisky outside of Scotland did the rest of the world come to learn about the beauty of an unblended single malt whisky. Up until this time, Glenfiddich had been a well-kept Scottish secret.

Over the years, Glenfiddich continued to grow and develop. The company released several rare bottles including a special centenary bottling to celebrate its hundredth year in 1987. Following this, a fifty-year-old, as well as a sixty-four-year-old cask, hit the shelves over the years.

From a regular bottle of Glenfiddich, you can expect a sweet, woody, and fruity flavor along with notes of cream, toffee, and vanilla.

glenfiddich or glenlivet

Moving on to Glenlivet, this brand was founded by George Smith in 1822. It began as a small and illegal operation in the Livet valley of Scotland.

Despite being illegal, it was popular and infamous enough for the visiting King George IV to request a tasting. A short two years later, when there was a change in legislation, George set out to get his hands on a license to become the first, legal, distiller in the area.

The brand continued to grow and was soon producing more than two hundred gallons of single malt whisky per week. With the influx of popularity and production, it was not long before Andrew Ushers & Sons joined the Glenlivet team as sales agents.

By 1852, the Glenlivet reputation had spread to London, and the brand continued to grow. With numerous competitors trying to steal the brand name, it was soon time for something to be done about it. In 1884, the rights were won, and the brand become The Glenlivet.

Despite some hard times during The Great Depression and Prohibition, Glenlivet rose through the drop in sales and production. By the 1950s, Glenlivet had become known worldwide.

The company continued creating its well-known single malt whisky throughout the years. Come 2015, the brand was almost at its two-hundred-year milestone which was celebrated by the release of The Glenlivet Founders Reserve.

When sipping on the classic Glenlivet, you can expect a rich fruit taste with notes of vanilla and pineapple. It also has a distinctive smooth and creamy finish.

classic glenlivet

How Are Glenfiddich and Glenlivet Made?

There is a specific process that needs to be followed for a drink to be defined as a single malt. That said, the production of both Glenfiddich and Glenlivet whisky is very similar.

To create Glenfiddich, the process starts with mashing and fermentation. Mash is created by grounding barley into flour and mixing it with heated spring water.

The mash is then turned and lifted to encourage the starch to convert and turn into fermentable sugars. The sugars are absorbed by the spring water and a syrupy liquid known as wort is collected. The wort is then drained and cooled.

Once cooled, the wort is pumped into large, wooden, fermentation vats. Yeast is then added, and fermentation begins. After about three days, a ‘wash’ is left that will move on to distillation.

The next step of the process is distillation. The wash is run into the wash stills where it is heated slowly. The heating causes the alcohol to become vapor that moves up into the still neck. This vaporized gas is guided down by a water-cooled condenser.

This goes by the name low wines. The low wines are heated and condensed for the second time in spirit stills. Two different shaped spirit stills are used for this process to create this whisky’s unique character.

At a precise point during the distillation, the brand’s high cut point is put into action. The heart of the distillate is captured, known as the new make, and the spirit trickles into the spirit safes.

At this point, it is ready for maturation. Springwater is added to the new make spirit, and it is then used to fill the oak casks. Casks are matured under the watchful eye of a warehouseman until they are ready to be primed and ready to be bottled.

Finally, the last steps of the process are marrying and bottling. Once the spirit has reached its maturity, the cask is emptied into a marrying tuns made of Portuguese oak. There it is left to rest for up to nine months before more spring water is added to create the perfect alcohol by volume.

At this point, the liquid can be proudly called fully crafted single malt and it can then be bottled.

While Glenlivet is produced in much of the same way, there are key differences in their methods. The first difference is that the fermentation takes place in Oregon pine washbacks.

The stills the company uses are something they are quite proud of. Their stills are uniquely lantern-shaped. And finally, the Glenlivet bottles go through one final step, which is chill filtration.

What Are Glenfiddich and Glenlivet Made of?

The main ingredients in both Glenfiddich and Glenlivet whiskies are barley and water. That is all there is to it. The real nitty-gritty behind the creation of flavors and characteristics of a whisky is what the processes are done.

For example, Glenlivet uses pine washbacks as they are thought to give more flavor to their whisky.

How Are Glenfiddich and Glenlivet Similar?

The first and most obvious similarity between these two whiskies is that they are both single malt whiskies. They go through the same creation process, although some steps make use of different equipment.

Both Glenfiddich and Glenlivet are smooth with a sweet fruity flavor. They are also both Speyside whiskies. And the final similarity between these two brands is that they are both aged for a minimum of twelve years.

Price, Size, Alcohol Percentage Comparison

Glenfiddich and Glenlivet have several whiskies on the market. The difference between the whiskies is how long they are aged and in what type of cask or barrel.

They also typically come in different quantities or bottle sizes. For a list of the different varieties along with their prices, take a look below.

Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old 750ml $51.50 40% ABV
Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old 375ml $29 40% ABV
Glenfiddich 14-Year-Old Bourbon Barrel Reserve 750ml $61 43% ABV
Glenfiddich 15-Year-Old Solera Reserve 750ml $79 40% ABV
Glenfiddich 15-Year-Old Solera Reserve 1L $90 40% ABV
Glenfiddich 18-Year-Old Small Batch Reserve 750ml $124 40% ABV
Glenfiddich 21-Year-Old Gran Reserva Rum Cask Finish 750ml $225 40% ABV
Glenfiddich 23-Year-Old Grand Cru 750ml $350 40% ABV
Glenfiddich India Pale Ale Cask 750ml $70 43% ABV
Glenfiddich Fire & Cane 750ml $55 43% ABV
Glenfiddich 21 Year Gran Reserva 750ml $250 40% ABV
Glenfiddich 19-Year-Old Age of Discovery Bourbon Cask Reserve 750ml $170 40% ABV
Glenfiddich Project XX 750ml $80 40% ABV
Glenfiddich 30-Year-Old 750ml $800 43% ABV
Glenfiddich Winter Storm 21-Year-Old 750ml $290 43% ABV
Glenfiddich Scotch Single Malt Malt Masters 750ml $90 43% ABV
Glenfiddich The Original 1963 750ml $102 40% ABV
Glenfiddich Age of Discovery 19 Year 750ml $180 40% ABV
Glenfiddich Rich Oak Whiskey 14 Year 750ml $65 40% ABV
Glenfiddich Scotch 15 Year Distillery Edition 750ml $80 51% ABV
Glenfiddich 26-Year-Old Excellence 750ml $586.50 43% ABV
Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams 750ml $130 48.8% ABV
Glenfiddich 25 Years 750ml $600
Glenfiddich 21 Year Havana Reserve 750ml $290 40% ABV
The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old 750ml $51 40% ABV
The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old 1L $64 40% ABV
The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve 750ml $43 40% ABV
The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve 1.75L $76 40% ABV
The Glenlivet 15-Year-Old 750ml $83 40% ABV
The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve 750ml $43 40% ABV
The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve 325ml $24 40% ABV
The Glenlivet 18-Year-Old 750ml $140 43% ABV
The Glenlivet 14-Year-Old 750ml $65 40% ABV
The Glenlivet 14-Year-Old 375ml $31.50 40% ABV
The Glenlivet 21-Year-Old Archive 750ml $300 43% ABV
The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old Illicit Still 750ml $63 48% ABV
The Glenlivet Nadurra Peated Whisky Cask 750ml $92 61.5% ABV
The Glenlivet XXV 750ml $496 43% ABV
The Glenlivet Enigma 750ml $130 48% ABV
The Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso 750ml $95 60.3% ABV
The Glenlivet Nadura 16-Year-Old 750ml $90 55.7% ABV
The Glenlivet First Fill 12-Year-Old 750ml $51 43.2% ABV
The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old Double Oak 750ml $50 40% ABV
The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old Double Oak 1L $75 40% ABV
The Glenlivet Code Scotch 750ml $130 48% ABV

These are just a few of the many options available on the market for these two whiskies. Each has its own hints and flavors whilst still maintaining its brand’s main characteristics.

How To Drink Glenfiddich and Glenlivet?

First off, single malt whiskies are best served at room temperature. While you can enjoy your drink in just about anything, the ideal glass to use is a whisky tumbler or a tulip-shaped glass. Once you have your bottle of whisky and glass set out, next is how best to enjoy it.

There are three main ways to enjoy whisky. The first is neat. The second way is to add a little bit of water. Some may like to have their whisky over ice, but others consider this to be a big no-no.

This is because ice is generally made using tap water and you should never mix your whisky with tap water. Not only that, but when the ice melts, it dilutes the flavor. But in the end, it comes to the drinker’s preference.

The third and final way to drink whisky is with mixers, but this is not recommended. While you can mix this drink with things like soda or lemonade, they take away from the flavor of it.

Glenfiddich and Glenlivet Alternatives

If Glenfiddich is not the whisky for you, some alternatives you could try are Aberlour 12-Year-Old and Glencadam 15-Year-Old. Aberlour is also a Speyside malt while Glencadam is much stronger and offers something more for those who find something missing from Glenfiddich.

Alternatives to Glenlivet include Linkwood 14-year-old and interestingly, Glenfiddich. Linkwood has similar strong, fruity flavors while Glenfiddich is a softer whisky.

glenfiddich and glenlivet alternatives

Glenfiddich vs Glenlivet Frequently Asked Questions

Which Company Came First?

Glenlivet was the first company to be established. It started up in 1822, while Glenfiddich was only established in 1886.

Which Whisky is Stronger?

Glenlivet is the stronger-tasting whiskey. Glenfiddich has a softer taste.

Which Whisky is More Popular?

This comes down to personal preference. While both whiskies are excellent specimens, the choice of which is better is up to the drinker.

About The Author

Charl Joost

Charl is a trainer, public speaker, and professional writer. While he has been coached to niche down, he has many passions. These include golf, gardening, technology, and a decent cup of coffee or two. Charl loves to learn about new products and tries everything he writes about.

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