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"Blue Label" Vs "Glenfiddich 12" Vs "Glenlivet 15" Vs "Glenlivet Nadurra 16"

Posted by mikeg on April 21, 2009

Update (8/15/2001): After enjoying Highland Park for about a year (introduced by my brother), I found a new favorite: Irish Bushmills Whiskey. Huge fan.


I’ve been drinking Black and Blue Label for a long time and the real reason was that somebody introduced me to Black Label originally and not because I prefer the taste. Actually I was not a big fan of it, but it is a “manly drink” to order in a bar so I kept at it. My brother and others have been suggesting trying a single malt and last time in the liquor store I decided to do a “taste test” trying to find a replacement for Johnnie.


A picture above is how my brother and I spent an afternoon — definitely recommend it :)

I decided to purchased single malts that are in the same price range as Black Label. Here is what I got (not to worry — i am not an alcoholic; one of the bottles was for my brother :))

  • Glenfiddich 12
  • Glenlivet 15
  • Glenlivet Nadurra 16 — I wasn’t paying attention, but it turns out to be “bottled at natural cask strength” which means it is 59% alc/vol.

My brother came over one of the Saturday afternoons and we did our taste test

  • Glenfiddich 12 was the easiest/smoothest and we both preferred it over all others
  • Glenlivet 15 was also good, but not as smooth as Glenfiddich
  • Nadurra had just too much alcohol, but we still preferred it over Blue Label
  • Compared to others, Blue Label was just too harsh in both taste and smell

While I am switching to single malts for those times when I would like a drink on the rocks, I think Johnnie and I will continue our relationship in the form of Black Label and Coke :)

There are a number of other single malts that I look forward to trying:

54 Responses to “"Blue Label" Vs "Glenfiddich 12" Vs "Glenlivet 15" Vs "Glenlivet Nadurra 16"”

  1. Neil Macdonald said

    When you drink cask strength whiskies, you need to add more water than usual so the final strength is comparable to how you would normally consume a whisky. Generally I drink with about 50% water – it is deliciosu

    • mikeg said

      Neil, thanks for the tip. Though it sounds “wrong” to dilute by 50% water :)

      I actually prefer 2 cubes of ice in my whiskey and let it sit for some time — this way it is diluted and chilled at the same time.

  2. Larry said

    Welcome to the world of single malts. They beat the blends all to hell, especially Johnny Walker. You need to get the right equipment to drink Scotch. You and your brother buy the Glencarin Whisky glass. It makes dinking whisky the ultimate alcohol experience. Take my word. You won’t be sorry.
    Experience as many single malts as you can afford. It will be one of the most enlightening and enjoyable experiences you will ever have.

  3. Scott said

    Single malts should not be drunk with ice.. it kills the flavour! add a bit of iced, pure water instead. it will open up the flavour of the whiskey!!

    My Favourite is Glenlivet 18.. a bit pricey but worth it otherwise i usually have Glenfiddich 12

  4. keith said

    Dude, no ice!

  5. PC said

    Sorry to conflict with you guys, but Single Malt and water is like insulting the Single Malt…just drink Blended instead, if you want to do it that way.

    I have experienced this myself, and read it too: Club Soda is the best soulmate for Single Malt Whiskeys.

  6. Tudval said

    I wouldn’t add water or ice to a 30 year old malt, but for young ones, ice can be good. It may kill the malty character, but it highlights salty and smoky flavors. Plus, with the unfiltered ones, it is fun to watch them turn cloudy. You cannot say ‘you could just drink a cheap blend’. The flavor will still be far superior to a cheap whisky, so if you like ice, go for it!

  7. Saurav Mahapatra said

    i still think that the johnnie walker brand of scotch is much better than than the single malt’s. i don’t think any of the single malt’s beat the blue lable and the king of kings.

    • Vijay said

      Come on Saurav, it’s time to graduate! Eat a pizza or any snack after having a single malt and now repeat the same after four drinks. You will not find any difference in taste of your snack. Ok, now do the same with your Johnnie! You will realize the difference! Very simple, now you will know who is the king of kings.

  8. moldyhands said

    I’ve been drinking some Glenlivet 21 Year Archive. I have had LOTS of single malts, even visited Scotland and had plenty of tastings. This is the best scotch I’ve ever had. I generally prefer Speysides and then Highlands. That guy who said Johnny Walker is best is a joke. Nowhere near the character and flavor.

    Water with single malts older than 12 years should generally be frowned upon, but I always have 3 cubes of ice. I love the taste of scotch chilled and drink it fast enough to avoid over dilution. The Scotts say that the only thing you should add to scotch is more scotch, but I’ll stick with ice and take the abuse (as I drink more scotch then the guy with the neat glass).

  9. mikeg said

    maybe i need to do more posts about alcohol than technology — seems to generate a lot more conversation :)

    My brother recently introduced me to Highlands and I am a big fan. Haven’t tried Spaysides, but will look for it.

    As far as neat Vs water Vs ice cubes — i am also a fan of ice. I am not man enough to handle warm alcohol :)

  10. elwood said

    there is absolutely nothing wrong with a few drops of water in the scotch as long as you don’t overdo it. i learned this from an 80 year old Scotch drinker. i actually prefer the water to not be ice cold but to each his own. some of my favorites are Aberlour 12yr, MaCallan (any yr), Glenmorangie 12yr (there are different finishes depending upon the cask it is stored in, the Port is my favorite but all of them are good), Glenlivet 18yr is very good. having scotch “tasting” parties is really fun as well. enjoy!

  11. Joe said

    I’ve been drinking single malts for several years now and one thing I’ve learned through fellow enthusiasts and research is that adding a splash of filtered water definitely helps open up the flavor. I would not recommend adding water to any single malt under 86 proof. I add a splash to my glenmorangie lasanta and let it sit for about 5 -10 minutes before tasting. It truly is magnificent.

  12. Vishnu said

    I have had most of the brands discussed here — To me the most foolish thing to do is to add a softdrink to any malt — Why buy a malt when you want to dilute it with some sugar water? Now ICE or Water or Club Soda or Neat it basically depends individual taste buds — For me iced Club soda or a hand full of ice cubes work really well. Whatever you do don’t over do — At end of the day dont loose the flavor of the drink completely by diluting it too much. My personnel favourite is Nadurra or MaCallan(especially Cask Strenght).

  13. rbrunor said

    I enjoy Blue Label, but have enjoyed many single malts far more. I try not to put ice, but every now and then will put only one. As for the cask strength I place a small amount of water, but no where near 50%!!! One thing that has not been mentioned here is that Blue Label has got to be the most over priced scotch. Plenty of superior single malts are far more affordable. Due to this I believe that only beginners buy Blue Label and waste money on the brand rather than quality. Also, did I hear someone say they mix scotch with coke??? Noooooo! That is a sin! Its like putting garlic in your cereal.

  14. When you say you like something better did you know what you were drinking?
    Normally I had always drink JW Black, with Dr Pepper or a single Ice Cube.
    Thinking that knowing what you had might influence your decision a friend and I did a blind taste test of several whisky brands. My wife poured 9 different items into glasses and we rated everything without knowing what they were.

    Here are 8 of them (can’t remember the 9th):
    Johnnie Walker: Red, Black, Gold, Green and Swing
    Crown Royal: Regular and Special Reserve
    Glenfiddich 12

    The results:
    Red was dead last, not even Dr Pepper made it taste good.
    The Swing with Black following behind were in the top categories. I was surprised to find both the more expensive JW (Gold and Green) were at the end.
    Our top two choices were Glenfiddich and Crown Special Reserve. Since the Glenfiddich was about $10 less expensive we decided the Glen was the best choice.
    Just got my first bottle of Glenlivet 12, so will try the test again soon.

    Ching ching

    • Brad said

      David- We did a blind taste test a while back but we were rookies and didn’t know what we were doing. We had 4 different scotches Grants Family Reserve
      Speyburn 10yr
      Glenmorangie Lasanta
      Balvenie 12yr Double Wood

      My buddy had no idea what was in each glass. We took one sip from each glass and they were all poured neat. It was a humbling experience he thought the Grants was his Balvenie and he rated them as follows

      1st Speyburn 10yr (It was unanimous, probably because we were new to scotch and it really is a good value dram and smooth)
      2nd Grants Family Reserve Blended
      3rd Balvenie 12yr
      4th Glenmorangie Lasanta (Which is really good and hard to judge in a one sip blind taste test because you don’t really appreciate it until at least 3 sips)

      We have since then bought more bottles and are planning another blind taste test that will include using coke to test it. I will post the results here.

      • mikeg said

        Hello Brad,

        Thanks for your comments

        For your next tasting make sure to get a bottle of It is excellent

      • Brad said


        I will give it a try. What does it taste like? What does a bottle of that run? I have highland park 12yr and I enjoy that I like the smokey finish.

      • mikeg said

        I find it smooth without any harshness or after taste. It costs a bit more than others mentioned – i think around $65 for 750

      • David Maurice said

        A friend and I went to a Bushmills tasting party and I found a preference for the 10yr old over others, all very nice and smooth. For many that I have tried I often don’t like the ‘high ends’ any better. I think drinking them without knowing what you are drinking is the best way to find what you like the best. Like I said above, Crown Special Reserve and Glenfiddich 12 are my favorites (have tried a lot of different brands), with Crown being chosen as number 1 because it is $10-$15 less per bottle.

        If you ever go on a Cruise, the cheapest place to purchase any Scotch is in the Grand Cayman’s. I have picked up several bottles for at least $20 than state side pricing. I can send you a price list by e-mail if you like . . . Send me a request to >

      • Brad said

        David & Mike-

        Where are you guys from? I am in Phx, AZ USA. I can find pretty inexpensive good single malts. I can get Glenlivet 12yr for $25.99, Glenfiddich 12yr for $35.99, Macallan 12yr $34.99. Send me a price list of what you can get in the Caymans.



      • David Maurice said

        I’m out in San Antonio, Texas.
        Some of the pricing I see are below, however times I’ve seen sale’s >
        Glenlivet 12yr 750 ?
        Grand Cayman 1 lt 30
        Glenfiddich 12 750ml 36
        GC 1 lt 30
        Johnny Walker – Black 750 34
        GC 1 lt 33
        Crown Special Reserve 750 42
        GC 750 35

  15. Mike said

    I am a beginning scotch and whiskey drinker, but I am loving it. Was drinking a GlenFiddich 12 but recently bought a GlenLivet 12 (might be 18, I forget now after reading so much) and I enjoy the robust flavor of te livet to the fiddich, seems more rich. I do usually ice but sometimes I don’t drink it fast enough and it gets diluted, that’s a dissapointment…

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. David Maurice said

    Mike: I agree with your comment about the “levet to the fiddich”, enjoy it a bit better also. Funny thing is I got the bottle of Glenlivet 12 by mistake. I was on a cruise in the Grand Caymans and ordered a bottle of fiddich 12 to be delivered to the ship (they won’t let you carry it out of the shop). On the final night of my cruise I found out they delivered the wrong bottle. A mistake that worked out very good for me. :)

    I hear several complaining about not putting ice in a whiskey. Kirby’s steakhouse hosts a Monthly Scotch Tasting. All the different Scotch vendors have had us taste the different samples first without ice, then next with a drop of water or Ice. I prefer the Ice to make it colder and appreciate that it brings out the flavors of the drink. I still drink many of them with just a drop of ice, but also enjoy the occasion to have a Dr. Pepper and my favorite whiskey.

  17. Johny said

    For me whisky should taste and smell well , afterall spending on them should be justified… Jack daniels with coke is good, but for scotch idealy you must not dilute , if it is very hard ,sip a little and taste it … the feel on nose (more than a smell) from glass will be better if it is dry one and make you feel that you are having some thing special or royal… i like glenfiddich over Johnywalkers…

  18. Brad said

    I am fearless, I have tried my single malts many different ways and I find myself enjoying them with coke. I know some of you will say this is a sin but I am a sinner and I prefer to do things the way I like and not the way everyone thinks they should be done. My favorite is the Glenfiddich 15yr with coke. You can still taste the flavour of the whisky and the finish stays with you. Don’t knock it till you try it.

    • mikeg said

      Brad – you are a rebel and a maverick :)

      • David Maurice said

        Brad – I agree with your decision to drink with soda, however my preference is Dr. Pepper. Having said that, every now and then I like to enjoy a nice glass with a single ice cube to enjoy the flavor. I prefer Glenfiddich 12yr with Crown Royal Special Reserve close behind. Do a blind taste test and you will be surprised at the results.

      • Brad said

        I have tried Dr. Pepper and it is good too. The Glenfiddich 12 yr and the 15 yr taste very similar. When I mix a blended scotch I usually do 1/2 and 1/2. When I mix a single malt I do 1/3rd single 2/3rds coke. I have a glencairne glass and I pour the single malt in and nose it for a while then I take about three sips because I like it neat too. Then I pour in the coke and enjoy the rest. I love the taste of them mixed and it makes it last longer. I take a sip and roll it in my mouth. It is especially good with bold and spicy scotches like the Glenmorangie Lasanta, it gets better the more sips you have. I say enjoy it however you want but don’t limit your experience because of what everyone says.

    • David Maurice said

      I just bought a bottle of Jim Beam “Red Stag” (infused with Cherry), goes great with soda. My friend likes it with 7-up, but I still prefer Dr. Pepper.

  19. hard water said

    hard water…

    […]"Blue Label" Vs "Glenfiddich 12" Vs "Glenlivet 15" Vs "Glenlivet Nadurra 16" « You’re a smart guy, figure it out![…]…

  20. vance said

    Single malts are not meant to be consumed with ice!!!
    A lot of single malts are meant to be enjoyed with water, but never cold. This is however a matter of opinion.

    Before you start drinking any whiskey, consult the back of the bottle or Google. Find out how the manufacturer wants you to enjoy their product. All scotches are different.

    For the good of your mortal soul. NEVER BUY ANOTHER BOTTLE OF JOHNNY WALKER.
    It may as well be bourbon for all it’s harsh and sugary textures. Please don’t be fooled I even tried a $700 bottle of King George V Blue Label. It was crap….. nuf said

    My scotch of choice for price and flavour is Auchentoshan 12yo. It is soft and textured with hints of honeysuckle. Please try before you die, you will not regret it.

    • mikeg said

      Thank you Vance. Will definitely add your recommendation to my list. Did you try bushmills? what are your thoughts?

      • vance said

        No problems. I haven’t tried it yet, I must say that I’m not a huge fan of younger whiskys unless matured in smaller barrels.They just never have the same character as 12 or 15yo.
        Nor do I greatly favor blended whiskey.

        But on the same token, I will try anything at least once. Perhaps i’ll try it out for Christmas.
        A good festive scotch liqueur for everyone to try this Christmas is Drambuie. Something about it says good times. Try it with a dash of vanilla coke for a smooth sweet treat.

    • mikeg said

      Bushmills is a single malt and the one i prefer is 16yr

      I am familiar with Drambui — good after-dinner drink. Though i prefer Sambuca – i am cutely aware that people either love it or hate it – my wife can’t stand the smell of it :)

  21. vance said

    The Bushmills I was talking about is a 5yo american made scotch blended with an Irish single malt.

    But that’s OK i’ll search out this 16yo. You’ve got me intrigued.

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  23. MunniBhai said

    Interesting…. this past Weekend i was at a friend’s house and we were discussing different brands of tequila and single malt scotch. He then started showing us his collection and all of a sudden we stared our scotch testing event, I’ve been more of a Glenlivet guy however when i put it against the Glenfiddich 12 it was hard to make a choice, suffice it to say that all single malts beat out JW Black without any question.

    • Brad said

      I like both of them also. I have been experimenting with Scotch like crazy since my first post. There are so many good scotches and I have decided that I want to have three kinds on hand at all time. A good speyside like Glenfiddich, Glenlivet,…ect. A good highland or islay Bowmore legend, Highland Park. And last but not least a good sherry malt like Aberlour, Macallan, Dalmore. It is good to have a little variety. I like them neat and with coke. Just depends on what mood I am in.

    • David Maurice said

      I agree 100% about that all the others beat out JW Black (Swing, Green & Gold too). Can’t believe until my blind taste test all I bought was JW Black with a splurge on Swing, Green & Gold once (never tried the Blue). I was very surprised to find the Green & Gold rated way below Black with only Swing being better. Glenfiddich 12 was at the top of my list and I too found the Glenlivet very close in taste (only tried the Glenlivet when it was delivered by mistake on a cruise). If I had to choose I would go with what ever was cheaper.

  24. […] across an interesting blog. I agree – cask strength single malts taste better with ice cubes (let them melt a little) […]

    • DavidMGus said

      Doesn’t the melting ice dilute the quality of the taste? Straight up lets you enjoy the substance of the beverage in its entirety…unadulterated by whatever additives are in the ice or water added by the user…in addition to the diluting effects of the H2O

      • mikeg said


        cask strength is usually 60 proof so alcohol content is very high, thus the need for dilution. money wise you get a better deal – more alcohol per dollar.

        as far as personal preferences go – i tried drinking with ice, without ice, with water and neat and personal preference is with ice

      • David Maurice said

        I’ve been to several Whiskey tasting events sponsored by various vendors. All have suggested to try first without adding anything then add a few drops of water to bring out some different flavors. I enjoy with water, which is what an ice cube slowly melting provides (plus gives it a chill). I have heard about Whiskey Stones that you freeze and add to your drink to chill without diluting. If I run across these some time may give them a try.

  25. I just added a new Whiskey to my reserves. At the store a few months ago and found a Crown Royal Maple at a very nice price. Love the Maple flavor and very nice to drink with a single Ice Cube or with my Cherry Coke Zero.
    Interesting thing, drove to Vegas last month to visit my son and found the same bottle of Maple in a Sams store for about $8 less than here in Texas. They had all the alcohol on the floor in the SAMS (which they don’t do here) and everything was much cheaper than Texas. I remember seeing the same thing last year when out in California. Looks like when all the stores can sell alcohol the competition drives the price down.

  26. mikeg said

    Thanks David – will check it out. We were drinking yesterday and as you can imagine it was pretty great

    • dtmaurice said

      Looks great, have not tried the 21 year old Glenlivet but LOVE the 12 year old. At a Glenlivet tasting I tried the 12, 15 & 18 year old Single Malts and found a preference for the 12. I might check it out in Grand Caymens when I go there in December to see if I can beet the $123 a bottle.

      From your link I found this interesting rating chart:

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  31. dtmaurice said

    Hey friends, got a new favorite drink. Recently on a cruise ship had a Johnnie Walker taste test that introduced me to some new flavors. They had the Johnnie Walker Explorers Club and I fell in love with the Spice Road selection. I have looked for it here in Texas and have not found it at any of the local liquor stores. I was fortunate to have picked up a bottle while in Grand Caymans.

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