Glenfiddich – the world’s most awarded single malt Scotch whisky – launches the fourth concept in its Experimental Series with Glenfiddich Fire & Cane, a smoky whisky finished in sweet rum casks.
Fire & Cane is inspired by the early innovation of Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman, who in 2003, first ran peated spirit through the Glenfiddich stills, birthing the concept. Fire & Cane boldly marries smoky whisky with non-peated malts that had been maturing side-by-side in bourbon casks, highlighting Glenfiddich’s sweet and fruity signature style. Taking it a step further, Kinsman finished the whisky in Latin rum casks to produce a surprising and unexpected overlay of flavours with added caramel toffee sweetness.
“This new single malt truly encapsulates the spirit of experimentation. We started with a question – what would happen if we did something with peat that we had not done before? The answer is an unconventional and unexpected whisky, one that is truly surprising,” said Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman. “During the tastings, some experienced the unusual smoky notes, while others tasted toffee flavours – this phenomenon can be attributed to the Scotch spending three months in sweet rum casks. It’s a bold combination, which I’m sure will appeal and intrigue single malt enthusiasts as well as those looking to try something new and different.”
The fire of the newest expression in the Experimental Series provides an explosion of campfire smokiness with oak and peaty notes, finished with lingering woodiness. The cane provides long-lasting sweetness by merging rich sweet toffee with green fruit character, baked apple, and toasted marshmallow with soft spice. Rum casks also help balance the dryness of the phenols and drive sweetness. Furthermore, by exclusively using naturally sweet American oak – sourced from the Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky – Fire & Cane is certified kosher.
Glenfiddich Experimental Series combines the brand’s passion for pushing Scotch whisky boundaries whilst unlocking new possibilities in the true spirit of experimentation. Other releases in the series include the Glenfiddich IPA Experiment, Glenfiddich Project XX and Glenfiddich Winter Storm.
Fire & Cane comes in a coloured glass that seamlessly transitions from a black/brown base to clear glass displaying the world’s favourite single malt Scotch whisky. The bottle was designed to showcase the juxtaposing flavours physically with the shift in colour.
Glenfiddich Fire & Cane is available in the US from July with a recommended retail price of $50, and available in the UK from October 2018.
If your dad is a dignified chap, then The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has the perfect gift for him this Father’s Day (Sunday 17th June 2018), with a special offer of membership to the SMWS including a limited edition single malt ‘For a dignified dad’ for only £130.
This 20-year-old Speyside whisky has matured in a refill ex-bourbon barrel to produce a single cask whisky that has been described as “characteristically waxy, oily, herbal and delicately tropical.”
Like the father in your life, ‘For a dignified dad’ carries an air of authority and experience that coveys that with “age brings distinction and the opportunity to wax lyrical, and deserves a respectful audience.”
With a stimulating nose and aroma of “hours spent in the garden or in the shed, emerging with the smell of soil from potting plants”, this whisky was bottled from a single cask that produced only 190 bottles, making it a limited edition single malt.
FATHER’S DAY OFFER
‘For a dignified dad’ and a membership to the Society costs only £130 which is a saving of £25. The whisky is from the Old & Dignified flavour category, which is one of the SMWS 12 flavour profiles.
Membership unlocks the doors to the Society’s unparalleled single cask whiskies, tasting events, the award-winning ‘Unfiltered’ magazine and Members Rooms and partners bars around the world.
New whiskies are released each month, providing an ever-changing choice of malts to discover.
Included in the offer:
· Full SMWS Membership (costing £65)
· 70cl bottle of: 36.142 ‘For a dignified dad’ (£90)
The Balvenie, the most handcrafted single malt Scotch whisky, reimagines a classic Speyside style whisky with the release of an exceptional peated expression – The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Years (2002 Vintage), available initially in a select number of markets.
The Balvenie Peat Week is the product of trials undertaken by The Balvenie’s Malt Master David Stewart MBE and Ian Millar, former distillery manager and current Prestige Whiskies Specialist at William Grant & Sons.
At a time when very few Speyside distilleries were using peat in production, The Balvenie distilled a batch of heavily peated malt, which was laid down to mature at the distillery in Dufftown, Scotland under the watchful eye of the industry’s longest-serving Malt Master. Since this pioneering moment, the distillery has dedicated one week each year, named Peat Week, to using only peated barley in its production, in order to craft a different style of The Balvenie liquid with enhanced smoky notes.
The result of the initial experiment is a classic honeyed whisky enriched with a delicate, sweet and lingering peat smoke that unlocks flavours unexpected from a Speyside distillery and showcases The Balvenie’s truly innovative and forward-thinking nature.
The Balvenie Peat Week (2002 Vintage), released in September 2017, is a single vintage bottling, limited and rare by nature. This non-chill filtered expression, bottled at 48.3% ABV, will launch exclusively to the USA, UK, Denmark and Sweden in September. The liquid was matured solely in American Oak casks, giving the final spirit a velvety and round taste with the peat smoke balancing oaky vanilla and honey.
Commenting on the release, David Stewart MBE says: “Being able to experiment with different elements of whisky making and stock management is one of the most exciting and important parts of my job. The new Peated Week bottling is a result of our continued efforts to innovate and trial flavours not typically associated with The Balvenie. The expression is testament to the freedom we enjoy as a family company, and shows The Balvenie in an unexpected way, yet still remaining true to the distillery style our drinkers enjoy.”
The new release pays special homage to a time when peated whiskies were commonly produced by distilleries across Speyside, including The Balvenie, who utilised locally sourced peat throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s to dry barley processed at the distillery’s traditional malt floor, which is still in use today.
Ian Millar, says: “When we first started the experiments it was an incredibly exciting time as very few Speyside distilleries were using peated malt in production. Along with cask type, there’s nothing quite like peat to change the flavour profile of a whisky, so it was great to have the chance to undertake these experiments and lay the foundations for future peated malts.”
Alwynne Gwilt, The Balvenie UK Brand Ambassador added: “For anyone who thinks that Scotch is a staid category, this new release from The Balvenie will make them reconsider. Behind the scenes at whisky distilleries like ours, experiments are always going on and almost 15 years ago, we started exploring what it would be like to peat the malt that goes into our gorgeous honeyed liquid for one week each year. The result is something wonderful and will give The Balvenie lovers a chance to see this delicious whisky in a different light.”
The release follows the June release of The Balvenie Peated Triple Cask Aged 14 Years, exclusive to travel retail. Both bottlings will be permanent additions to The Balvenie’s existing range.
The Balvenie Peat Week will retail for £60 RRP and is available from September.
Tamdhu. One of the oldest whisky names in Scotland, yet personally I don’t think It crosses many people minds when talking about whisky. It’s not for the lack of wanting to, I believe looking at it all, it’s quietly being the bedrock of Scottish spirits. Quite a bold statement I suppose, so I better back myself up with some hard evidence.
Spearheaded by a group of whisky blenders, including William Grant and Sons, Tamdhu came into the world at a time when Scotland was seen as the forerunner of the inventing age. The 17 and 1800’s saw the likes of the steam engine perfected by James Watt and the bicycle refined by Kirkpatrick MacMillan. It’s within these times (1897 to be exact) that Tamdhu rose on the banks of the River Spey within what was seen as the pinnacle of distilling. For example, using the experience of Speyside distillery architect Charles Doig of Elgin, the use of a water wheel positioned beneath the floor gave optimum performance and kilns designed to reduce heat loss.
Tamdhu came to be a part of the Edrington Group who, with William Grant in 1999, acquired the distillery from Highland Distillers who had owned the distillery since 1898, despite being closed in 1911, reopened in 1913, then mothballed in 1928 until 1948. In 2010 though, Ian Macleod Distillers took over the operation. Since then, there have been a selection of independent releases, but only one official.
The creation of Tamdhu involves the use of its own malt created from barley (one of only a handful of distilleries still with its on site malting floor, and from 1950, a Saladin box), distilled twice within the six stills they use, then combined with water originating from the Tamdhu spring before maturing within sherry casks.
So how does Tamdhu fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Tamdhu 10yr – 40%
Light cereal with fruit and gentle spice present on the nose. Rich red fruit on the palate, creating a lingering toffee flavour that results in a slightly dry smoky finish.
Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky and premium gin business of Pernod Ricard, has released two new small batch, single malt whiskies from its Speyside distillery, Tormore.
The launch of Tormore 14 Year Old and Tormore 16 Year Old, both produced in limited quantities from a small number of carefully-selected casks, coincides with a new identity for the brand, as it aims to appeal to the growing number of discerning drinkers who appreciate the craft quality and provenance of Speyside single malt whisky.
Tormore 14 Year Old and Tormore 16 Year Old are aged in American oak casks that demonstrate the distillery’s light, smooth, and fruity character. Tormore 14 Year Old has a fruity nose that offers hints of citrus and raspberry, a smooth, sweet taste featuring liquorice and ginger, followed by a long, sweet finish with a spicy tang.
Tormore 16 Year Old, which is bottled without chill-filtration to reveal further layers of complexity, presents a well-balanced nose of sweet orange and barley sugar, a mouth-watering, juicy taste of ripe melon and pear, with a long and slightly dry finish. Tormore 14 Year Old and Tormore 16 Year Old are currently sold in France, priced at 42€ and 56€ respectively, and are expected to be available in other countries throughout 2014.
The new look for Tormore includes a contemporary logo and refreshed packaging, which highlight the distillery’s still room and natural landscape, reinforcing the purity of the spirit. The whiskies are presented in a luxury gift box that features the batch number and the signature of Master Distiller, Neal Corbett, reinforcing its crafted quality and making it an ideal gift for single malt fans.
A new website (www.tormoredistillery.com) has also been developed, enabling malt whisky enthusiasts to discover the unique flavour profiles of the two expressions and to explore the distillery’s heritage.
Neal Corbett, Master Distiller at Tormore Distillery, comments: “The re-design of Tormore and the release of these handcrafted whiskies herald a new era for the distillery, which I am proud to be leading. Tormore 14 Year Old and 16 Year Old showcase the distillery’s smooth signature style, so we hope that both Scotch connoisseurs and discerning drinkers looking to expand their repertoire will enjoy discovering these whiskies in the months to come.”
The end of last month saw me miss out on attending the latest Manchester Whisky Club meeting, but not one to miss out too much, the drams were picked up a few days back and enjoyed at my own leisure. This months theme had a look at Speyside, but specifically 5 bottles that all came in at under £50. So, lets see what club founder Andy had managed to acquire –
Glen Elgin 18yr – 46%
Matured for the full 18 years in 2 refill hogshead casks before being bottled in November 2013 by independent bottlers Signatory.
Peach and honey aromas on the nose, with tropical pineapple and hints of vanilla coming through. Sharp on the palate, although light and with splashes of wood blended with sweet finishes. Very long.
Glenlivet 16yr– 46%
Matured for 16 years in a 1st fill Sherry Butt before being bottled in November 2013 by Signatory.
Light aromas of warm leather, toffee and vanilla on the nose. Slight sharpness on the palate, with a pepper spice entering slowly. Hints of sherry and banana on the long finish.
Miltonduff – Glenlivet 19yr – 46%
Bottled in 2013 by independent bottlers Cadenheads.
Fresh red apples and plums on the nose, with rich, sweet tones of pastry. Sweet on the palate, with a bold hit of spice that develops. Lots of hard fruits, with dark toffee and vanilla flavours dominating. Lingering finish.
Glenfarclas 105 10yr – 60%
Plenty of light sherry notes on the nose, with faint pine nuts following. Rich sherry on the palate, with a high kick of coffee and nuts. Very warming, although results in a short finish.
Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 47 – 60.7%
Well balanced sherry and orange aromas on the nose. Light, with a developing warmth and spice on the palate. Plenty of sherry, with hints of ginger sliding in on the lingering finish.
Not a bad selection, with the Glen Elgin probably my most preferred. It’s always great to experience some lesser know expressions, especially from independent bottling companies like Signatory and Cadenheads, and it really shows the difference sometimes from the main range you are more likely to see in your local bar. Cracking stuff.
The Glenlivet is another one of those whisky brands that I have come across a fair few times and have managed to amass tasting notes on each occasion. So it makes sense to bring them all together and to also showcase its new expression Alpha. But first, who are The Glenlivet? *
Glenlivet is located within Speyside and when translated from Gaelic, means ‘valley of the smooth-flowing one’. At the beginning of the 19th century, when heavy taxation meant illegal distillation ran rife, the peaks and gorges provided perfect cover for smugglers who wanted to hide from the authorities. The word spread that the whisky distilled here was unsurpassed and whisky from Glenlivet was even requested by name by King George IV on a state visit to Scotland in 1822.
Raised on a farm and trained as a joiner, George Smith was a businessman and entrepreneur who didn’t follow the lead of the illegal still owners. In 1824, he obtained a distiller’s licence so he could produce and trade without attracting the attention of government excise men. The smugglers were furious that George could go about his business freely while they still had to conceal their activities. George Smith passed away in 1871, but his legacy lived on in his son and heir to the distillery John Gordon Smith.
John’s first task was to protect his inheritance from those who were taking advantage of the single malt from Speyside. Sailors on delivery boats were siphoning off the casks during transit, and competing distillers were labelling bottles of their whiskies as Glenlivet. In 1876, John filed a request to trademark the name Glenlivet to put an end to the activities of the impostors. After years of legal wrangling, the case was settled. John won the exclusive right to call his whisky ‘The Glenlivet’, definitively marking it as the single malt that started it all. When John’s second great-nephew Captain Bill Smith Grant inherited the distillery in 1921, action by the Distillers Company Ltd. led to season-long closures throughout Scotland. Thanks to Smith Grant’s perseverance, The Glenlivet distillery was one of just a few malt distilleries that remained open.
Prohibition was lifted in the United States in 1933, and trade channels re-opened the following year. Because The Glenlivet distillery had remained open for business, it was in an ideal position to capitalise on this lucrative transatlantic opportunity. The Pullman train company started serving The Glenlivet in miniature bottles. Commuters across the Midwest couldn’t get enough of this superb single malt, and word spread quicker than the trains could travel. By 1950, The Glenlivet accounted for half of all the Scottish malt whisky sold in the US.
The distillery draws water from Josie’s Well and other springs a short distance from the distillery and uses barley from Crisp Maltings, Portgordon. The spirit is distilled twice before being matured in ex bourbon casks, with some products being finished in casks previously used to store sherry and port.
As mentioned, I’ve been lucky enough to try some of The Glenlivet range, so below, I give to you my tasting notes –
The Glenlivet 12yr– 40%
A sweet, rich nose with vanilla and green apple coming through. Toffee and fudge present on the palate with plenty of oak flavours and hints of aniseed. A long finish with a slight warmth.
The Glenlivet 15yr French Oak Reserve– 40%
Matured in French Limousin Oak casks. Rich butter aromas on the nose with oak following. A combination of fruit and nut with spice and cinnamon making an appearance. Lingering finish of spice.
The Glenlivet Nadurra Cask Strength 16yr – 54.2%
Fresh, rich aromas of apple and vanilla on the nose. Slight spice on the palate, with vanilla and soft fruits bursting on a dry finish.
The Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso – 48%
Small batch crafted and matured within 100% ex-Oloroso sherry casks from Jerez in Spain. Lots of dried fruits combining on the nose including stalked cherries, sultanas and slight apricots. A developing spice on the palate, with lots of sweet orange, dark chocolate notes and plenty of cream that counters somewhat the dry finish.
The Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso Matured – 60.7%
Small batch crafted and matured within 100% ex-Oloroso sherry casks from Jerez in Spain. Dry sherry notes on the nose with rich honey aromas on the finish. Sharp beginning on the palate, very thin and light with honeycomb and sherry kicks, leading to a bold, spice and a lingering warmth on the finish.
The Glenlivet Founders Reserve – 40%
Created by selecting whisky from a variety of traditional aged oak casks and and American first-fill oak casks. Strong, sour green apple and cider notes on the nose, with a smooth offering on the palate with a developing fresh spice. Plenty of stewed apple and oak notes combining and leading to bold, rich kicks with a long, lively finish. Smooth, with red apple notes.
The Glenlivet 18yr – 43%
Rich toffee and fruit notes on the nose with honey and walnut flavours mixing with spice as it nears the long ending on the palate.
The Glenlivet 21yr – 43%
Cereal and honey aromas create a rich nose, whilst a sweet ginger and cinnamon offering on the palate developing towards a warm, long ending.
The Glenlivet Alpha – 50%
Surrounded by some fantastic marketing, The Glenlivet Alpha bottle is described as a “blank canvas”, a single malt designed to challenge consumers to develop their own perceptions of the whisky without being influenced by age, colour or cask. Just 3,500 bottles of the 50% abv expression have been released to 15 global markets, including the US, UK, Taiwan and France, targeted predominantly at existing The Glenlivet fans and single malt Scotch enthusiasts. A teaser campaign ran across social media and digital, aiding consumers to develop their own tasting notes and discover the elements that have formed Alpha. Here’s mine –
Light on the nose with some sweetness coming through. Aromas of sherry and dry oak linger a little soon after. Sharp beginning on the palate, with an almost corn like feel. Some notes of iodine blend with citrus and honey to create a very long finish.
Aberlour is a Speyside whisky that I have had the pleasure of coming across several times. The nature of my job can sometimes bring together many a whisky note, but never a fully fledged piece on the brands in question. Well it’s about time I write a little bit on one of these names that you may see keep popping up.
As mentioned, Aberlour is situated in the Speyside region of Scotland, and is steeped in history. Aberlour is an ancient place, a fact that is celebrated via the picture of an oak tree on the Aberlour label. Why an oak tree? Well a long time ago, a druid community lived in the valley. Water and oak trees were important to the druids’ culture, resulting in the oak tree becoming the Aberlour symbol. Fast-forward a few years to around AD 580 where a missionary, St Drostan, established himself at the Aberlour site. He used the spring water to baptise local people and to this day, the spring water from the very same source is used to produce Aberlour.
Aberlour itself was founded by a gentleman named James Fleming. Born in 1830 and the son of a local farmer, he became a grain dealer and supplied many whisky distillers. This interaction encouraged him to establish his own distillery, and so acquired land at Aberlour, the same land that housed the spring water mentioned above. The year 1879 saw the beginning of the distillery taking shape, with Fleming designing most of the buildings and machinery himself, and within a year had its first flow of whisky.
1895 saw the death of James Fleming, and three years later a fire destroyed several of the distillery buildings and most of the whisky stocks. Under the supervision of Scotland’s foremost designer of whisky distilleries, Charles Doig of Elgin, the Aberlour Distillery was rebuilt.
With the spring water that flows from the slopes of Ben Rinnes and along the Lour Valley, to the double casking (whisky is matured separately in specially selected ex-bourbon casks and ex-sherry butts, then, when it has come to age, the whisky from the two sets of casks is brought together), a rather splendid range comes to fruition. With this, below, I give to you my tasting notes on the drams I have had the pleasure of coming across –
Aberlour 12yr – Non Chill-filtered – 48%
Rich raisin and fig aromas on the nose, dark chocolate a plenty, with soft caramel following. Very soft on the palate, with nuts, caramel, dark fruits and hints of cinnamon creating a well blended long finish.
Aberlour 12yrDouble Cask Matured– 40%
Soft red apples on the nose that flows onto the palate and blends with ginger, cinnamon and rich chocolate. Creates a warm, sweet finish that lingers.
Aberlour 16yr Double Cask Matured – 40%
Dry but rich on the nose with spice and raisins dominating. Quite sweet on the palate with a soft plum and long oak finish.
Aberlour 18yr – 43%
Subtle soft, dry fruits with vanilla and light honey on the nose. Plenty of oak, with hints of sherry that dries the palate. Orange and vanilla blend well to create a soft entry of flavour. Lingering finish.
Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 33 – 60.9%
Lots of sherry notes on the nose hitting the senses left, right and centre, with plenty of bursts on every breath. Spicy flavours coat the palate, but its enjoyed on a silky smooth texture caused by the sherry casks.
Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 35– 60.3%
Very floral on the nose that develops into an instant spice flavour on the palate. A rather hot tang follows into a dry finish.
Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 41– 59%
Lots of spice and rich orange combine well on the nose and continue on to the palate with ginger and chocolate flavours coming through. A bitter oak and sherry end.
Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 45 – 60.2%
Plenty of sherry aromas on the nose, with cocoa and hints of orange following. A developing warm spice on the palate, with ginger and raisins coming through. Delicate, long, and very warming on the finish.
Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 47 – 60.7%
Well balanced sherry and orange aromas on the nose. Light, with a developing warmth and spice on the palate. Plenty of sherry, with hints of ginger sliding in on the lingering finish.
Now i’m going to start with a confession – i’ve never tried Drambuie. I was not one for malt whisky or honey back in the day, but ever since i’ve started doing this career, my palate has grown and experienced lots of new flavours. So always up to giving things a second chance, i jumped at the chance to try the newly released Drambuie 15.
A little history of Drambuie first though.
The legend holds that the recipe of Drambuie was concocted by Prince Charles Edward Stuart (commonly known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) in Italy or France where he was brought up. In 1745, he lost the infamous Battle of Culloden where he was sheltered by the clan MacKinnon on Skye. The chief took him off Skye and to the mainland from where he made his eventual escape. It’s then reported that the recipe was then given in the late 19th century to a gentleman named James Ross. Ross ran the Broadford Hotel on Skye, where he developed and improved the recipe in the 1870s. The name Drambuie was then registered by him as a trademark in 1893. After Ross died, his widow sold the recipe to a different MacKinnon family in the early 20th century. The MacKinnon family have been producing it ever since.
The first commercial distribution of Drambuie happened in 1909 in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. Only twelve cases were originally sold. In 1916, Drambuie became the first liqueur to be allowed stocked in the cellars of the House of Lords and Drambuie began to ship world-wide to stationed British soldiers. In the 1980s, the producers of Drambuie began to advertise the liqueur on tv, although advertising began way back in the first decade of the 20th Century.
The Drambuie 15 is a twist on the original Drambuie, using rare Speyside malts aged 15 years. It complements and balances the herbs and spicy aromas of the famed Drambuie. So with this in mind, here is my tasting notes –
The nose enjoys a soft honey and citrus notes that has a slight butterscotch end. The palate however welcomes a rather sweet blend of lemon and heather that creates an almost velvety texture on the tongue. The sweetness lingers on the after-taste and in my mind, begs you to have another sip.
Im surprised. I have to admit i really enjoyed this. It has a RRP of £35 but i would have no hesitation in recommending this famed spirit. And its award winning too! 2 golds at the Drinks International and a silver for ‘Best Liqueur’ at the Spirits Business Spirits Masters. Not bad for a product that’s only been out since September.
I’ll be hunting for the original now. I’m hooked!
Very sweet hit on the nose with instant honey aromas and a light scent of herbs. A kick on the palate of spice but soon mellows. Rather short but warming with a slow medicinal flavour coming through near the end.
Glenfiddich is a staple in the whisky world. Seen by thousands, stocked in venues you frequent and no doubt in many a drinks cabinet at home, the brand is a pioneer in to be fair not only the world of whisky, but spirits in general.
For me, Glenfiddich will always have a certain place in my very own drinks cabinet, primarily due to it being one of the first ever distilleries I visited nearly 3 years ago, but also the willingness that the brand offers towards my work in developing the image of whisky and the versatility that comes with it, seen within the Malt Mastermind cocktail competition. It’s with this that I’ve taken a new look into the brand and replaced my original piece written back in 2012. So without further delay, lets head to Dufftown.
Dufftown is seen as the malt whisky capital of the world, located within the Speyside region of the Scotch whisky world. With its brother The Balvenie next door, it thrives as one of only a few family owned distilleries in existence, with William Grants & Sons still at the helm. William Grant had a dream in 1886 of creating ‘the best dram in the valley’ and looked to just one stonemason to build the distillery, using a staggering 750,000 stones and taking a year to complete. With help from his 7 sons and 2 daughters, the Glenfiddich (Gaelic for Valley of the Deer) distillery became fully functioning, with the first drops from the stills coming on Christmas Day 1887.
1923 saw Prohibition in full swing, but to the surprise of many, William’s grandson Grant Gordon increased the whisky production in view of the ban ending. The stroke of luck meant that once the ban was lifted, Glenfiddich were part of only 6 distilleries in Scotland ready to meet the surge. Another vision of genius came in the form of the now iconic triangular bottle, created by designer Hans Schleger in 1961. Two years later, and the world became introduced to not only Glenfiddich, but to single malt whisky. Before this, blended whisky was seen as the dram of choice in all establishments, but the proud Sandy Grant Gordon, great-grandson of William made Glenfiddich the first to be actively promoted outside the Scotland borders.
Innovation flourished again in 1998 as the fifth Malt Master created the Solera Vat, a pioneering process used to craft the 15 year old expression. Three years later, the family released the oldest single malt whisky. Cask 843 was laid down in 1937 and due to natural evaporation (or the Angel’s Share), only 61 bottles could be filled.
A rather cracking bit of history, and it’s amazing to still see it all family owned after so many years. If you wish to find out how Glenfiddich comes about, the methods of production, ageing etc, take a look at my feature on the Glenfiddich Distillery that looks at the time I visited a few years back.
For this feature though, we’re going to look at some of the expressions available within the Glenfiddich range. So below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Glenfiddich12yr – 40%
Matured in American bourbon and Spanish sherry oak casks for at least 12 years. On the nose you receive fresh pear with citrus notes following. Plenty of fresh aromas. Plenty of pear on the palate with strong flavours coming through. Sweet bursts follow with hints of malt and a slight spice to give a smooth yet short finish.
Glenfiddich Rich Oak – 40%
After 14 years maturing in Spanish oak and American Bourbon casks, the Malt Master selects virgin Spanish and American oak casks to release extra layers of aroma and flavour.
Soft fruit notes on the nose with slight oak whispers. Rather soft and short on the palate, but a fruity offering with rich vanilla thrown in.
Glenfiddich 15yr – 40%
Matured in three casks – sherry, bourbon and new oak. Hints of vanilla and honey blended together on the nose. Warm sherry oak flavours coming through on the palate followed by a combination of ginger and cinnamon. A pleasant smoothness on the finish with a sweet, spicy end.
The Glenfiddich Solera system is a unique process amongst Scotch whisky. Glenfiddich 15yr from sherry, bourbon and new oak casks are married together into a large Solera vat, made of Oregon pine. The vat is always kept at least half full, so when topped up, it gives a consistent whisky quality.
Glenfiddich 15yr Non-chill Filtered– 51%
Ripe, fresh fruit on the nose with an aroma of pepper at the end. Rather dry on the palate with spice, rich fruit flavours creating a long finish.
Glenfiddich 18yr – 40%
Spanish Oloroso wood and American oak used to mature. On the nose, rich fruit aromas with wet spices dominate. Gentle spice on the palate, with red fruits and oak producing a warm follow-up to a short finish.
Glenfiddich 18yr Small Batch – % Unknown
Mahogany wood on the nose with wax scents, slight burnt orange and toffee notes. Incredibly smooth on the palate with a viscus texture, light bursts of cherry, honey and oranges creating a lingering, light finish with fresh apricots.
Glenfiddich 21yr – 40%
Spends 4 months in a Caribbean rum cask. Strong, intense banana and toffee aromas with hints of leather and a rich sweet follow-through. A smooth start on the palate with a slight smoke with ginger and lime extracts. Leaves a long warm after-taste with subtle spice hints.
Glenfiddich Excellence 26yr– 43%
A rare single malt Scotch whisky that has spent 26 years maturing in American Oak ex-bourbon casks. Plenty of green apple, cream and almond notes on the nose. Incredibly smooth on the palate, with a developing dry cinnamon cutting through the apple and soft red berry notes. Soft vanilla is also present on the warm lingering finish.
Glenfiddich Age of Discovery– 40%
A 19yr old aged in previously used Madeira wine casks. Deep orange notes on the nose with some hints of grape slowly released. Spice immediately hits the palate, but mellows to a smooth offering of caramel and ginger.
Glenfiddich Vintage Reserve 1974 – 46.8%
Glenfiddich’s first ever vatted Single Reserve. Rich with vanilla on the nose, with fresh hints coming through near the end. Sweet toffee engrosses the palate, with a bold, mouth-watering flavour of honey and spice leads into a long finish.
Glenfiddich 125th Aniversary Edition – 43%
Aromatic scents of wood on the nose, with plenty of ripe fruits following. A good citrus burst on the palate, with a developing richness of malt and sweetness, leading to a whisp of smoke on the finish.
Glenfiddich Malt Master Speyside – 43%
Soft toffee and honey combine on the nose with ripe pears. Very soft on the palate, with sharp fruit, spice and vanilla offered on a short finish.
A refill bourbon cask filled on 13th March 1992, the year that The Whisky Shop was founded. Light on the nose with soft wood notes combined with lemon and macadamia nuts. Rich plum flavours combined with a growing black pepper and roasted nuts are present on the palate, with a long, soft kick of plums for a smooth finish.
Glenfiddich The Original– 40%
A limited edition release from Glenfiddich, The Original is based on Hamish Robertson’s 1963 Straight Malt recipe, considered by many to be the world’s first single malt.
Light notes upon the nose of soft fruits, followed by a subtle sea salt. Thick on the palate, yet offers a light, fresh sherry flavour that begins a long, warm, slightly dry finish with white pepper and oak notes.
The Experimental Series:
The Experimental Series from Glenfiddich is said to embody the family philosophy of freedom and possibilities, to create a range of ground-breaking single malts. 2016 saw the release of their first pioneering expression in the series: The IPA Experiment. In collaboration with IPA expert, Seb Jones, they created an innovative new craft ale and bespoke IPA barrels, to finish their single malt. Also released is their second, most ambitious expression to date: Project XX (Pronounced Twenty). This unusual single malt combines the top picks of their warehouse from 20 industry experts, to create an exceptional single malt.
Glenfiddich IPA Experiment – 43%
Toasted seasoned oak on the nose, with soft hops and subtle green fruits appearing. Those same green fruits follow to the palate, with hints of citrus creating a mouth-watering effect that leads to a bold, fresh finish of vanilla.
Glenfiddich Project XX – 47%
Subtle green fruits on the nose, with light oats following. A sweet orange rind appears on the palate, releasing a sharp tip of the tongue that turns into red berries and white pepper waves. A long, bold finish of almond and sweet oak.
A stunning range with some great limited editions and unique expressions. More than one surely worthy of a place within your drinks cabinet. The legacy of Glenfiddich is, to me, proven with the standing the brand has to this day and the opportunity to release more expressions that stand up to rival Speyside brands who contribute in the same market.
I suppose what I should outright say is, there’s a reason for the brand to be well-known. The spirits produced are exceptional.