Glenlivet produces a lighter spirit, floral and fruity, which is often considered a typical example of the Speyside style of whisky. As is often the case, the Glenlivet site was home to illicit production, likely for hundreds of years before the official distillery was founded. However, when an act of Parliament finally made whisky production legal in 1823 with the purchase of a license, George Smith was literally first to step forward to apply, and within a year, Glenlivet was the first licensed distillery in the Speyside region. Unfortunately, the move was not popular with the numerous illicit distillers producing in the area, who threatened to burn down his distillery... with him in it. For several years, only a pair of loaded pistols, a gift from a local landowner and sponsor, kept Smith and his operation safe. That was not the only threat to his business. Due to the success of the legal distillery and the quality of its whisky, many operations along the Rivet Livet quickly took to labeling their barrels "Glenlivet" as well, quickly diluting the brand. Eventually, George's son John Gordon Smith took the matter to court, and won the right to the exclusive use of "The Glenlivet". That did not completely stop use of the name, however, especially as a hyphenation. To this day, many Speyside whiskies are still bottled as "Longmorn-Glenlivet", "Balvenie-Glenlivet", etc., as other producers continue to lay claim to the the region and its enviable reputation.
A large majority of Glenlivet whisky produced is bottled as a single malt. Almost half of that is sold in the US, where Glenlivet is the number one selling single malt, and has been for almost 40 years. Glenlivet whisky not sold as a single malt is used in blends such as Chivas Regal, Ballantine's and Royal Salut.