Category Archives: Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich Age of Discovery

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I always felt that Glenfiddich is an excellent whisky at an excellent price and is readily available. What more could you ask for? In addition to their solid standard lineup the distillery releases a unique expression here in the US about once a year. We have seen the Snow Phoenix, Cask of Dreams and Malt Master’s Edition over the past couple of years. This year Glenfiddich is releasing their Age of Discovery expression for the first time here. Previously it was only for travel retail, for which it was very appropriately named. Earlier versions included a Madiera cask and a wine casks and both were aged for 19 years. This US release is also aged for 19 years but this time exclusively in ex-bourbon casks. It does come in fairly low at 40% ABV.

Color: Light copper and orange

Nose: Apples, citrus, definitely a vibrant bourbon barrel influence, barley, apple turns more into an apple pie filling sweetness, cinnamon, leather, very harmonious – everything seems to be in its proper place

Mouth: Full of apples and spices, again with vibrant bourbon notes of citrus and vanilla, surprisingly full bodied at such a low ABV, very well put together, a touch dry, a bit of the alcohol comes out more at the back end along with a small touch of bitterness. I tried a touch of water but it completely fell apart on me. I wouldn’t add water to this one.

Finish: Short but not weak. A wisp of the baking spices is the last flavor to leave my mouth.

Overall a very mild mannered and well put together whisky. Don’t mistake this comment to imply a lack of flavor though as it definitely does have it. It is a whisky that you can sit with and drink all night.

*Thank you M Collective for the sample*

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A Couple of New Glenfiddich Expressions

The core Glenfiddich range – a very solid and tasty range at that – of what appeals to the general whisky drinking population remains the same. Thankfully no drastic measures are being taken like eliminating age statements or any nonsense like that. Instead, Glenfiddich released a pair of new whiskies that should peak the interests of those that are more than just the casual whisky drinkers.

The first new release is the Malt Master’s Edition. As the name suggests, this release is a nod to Glenfiddich’s Malt Master, Brian Kinsman. What makes this release unique for Glenfiddich is that it is double matured. The Malt Master’s Edition is composed of whisky that was aged 6-8 years is ex-Bourbon casks and then aged an additional 4-6 years in Sherry casks.

On the nose I got a lot more of the sherry influence. But on the palate more of the bourbon casks came through in the spices, vanilla and cherry flavors. This whisky nicely walks the line of smooth but lively. Coming in at 43%ABV this formerly distillery only release will be available in the US this month at a reasonable $80.

The second release is definitely a lot more rarefied: the 1974 Vintage Reserve.  There is a vintage released annually but this is the first time that the whisky is a vatting of casks.  This is a vatting of both Sherry and Bourbon casks all from 1974 (guaranteed 36 years old).  There were only 1,000 bottles made available worldwide and only 35 allocated for the US market.  The brand ambassadors helped to select this vintage by converging on the distillery and sampling whiskies from 1973, 1974 and 1975.  The hands down winner of the sampling was the whisky from 1974. 

The 1974 Vintage Reserve comes in at 46.8% ABV and has a very lively nose – and not just for its age.  I got a lot of pears that I usually associate with Glenfiddich as well as some tropical fruits.  With the addition of water I picked up a little more oak influence as well as a nice earthiness, almost rutty.  A very beautiful whisky, unfortunately it is extremely limited and out of the price range for most of us.

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Glenfiddich’s Cask of of Dreams

Well it is finally here…the culmination of last year’s Cask of Dreams campaign has been bottled and is available for purchase.  If you are not familiar with the Cask of Dreams, it was a nationwide campaign where 11 individual casks were brought to different cities where individuals memorialized their dreams and aspirations by writing them onto the casks.  We attended the San Francisco event last year so it was great to see this project come full circle and sample some of the whisky from the Cask of Dreams.  I had the fortune of sitting down with Glendfiddich’s West Coast Ambassador Mitch Bechard to talk about and taste this expression.  If you ever get the opportunity to attend a Glenfiddich event make sure that you do – Mitch’s knowledge and more importantly his passion for whisky make for a great experience.

The Cask of Dreams is a limited release of 3500 bottles and is only available in the United States.  The whisky that composes this expression consists of American oak casks ranging from 14 to 16 years old.  These casks were vatted and then transferred to the 11 virgin American oak Cask(s) of Dreams that made the trip from the US.  Because these casks never held whisky before it was important to carefully monitor them – Brian Kinsman sampled them every few weeks – so that they do not over cook the whisky inside.  After 3 months, it was decided that the perfect balance had been achieved.

Before getting intoxicated (pun only partially intended) by the fumes of the marketing and advertising machine, we have to keep grounded and remember it is about the juice inside the bottle.  A grandiose story doesn’t make up for shit whisky.  So putting by best efforts to forget the story behind it, I gave the whisky a taste…

Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams NAS $99
14 – 16 year American Oak
Finished 3 months in virgin American Oak
Bottled at 48.8% ABV

The color was surprisingly dark and of an almost chestnut hue.  I wasn’t expecting that from the age of the component whiskies and from all American oak.  The nose was reminiscent of dried red fruit and spices.  The vanilla was hanging around in the background as well.  The palate initially hit with a firm spiciness then with a layer of vanilla and sweetness but underneath was the familiar yet subtle apple and malty notes that I tend to get from Glenfiddich 12.  There was also a chewy full mouth feel to it.  At the suggestion of Mitch, I added some water.  This took some of the spicy new oak edge off of it and made for a more composed whisky.  I got a little dustiness after letting it breath for awhile.

It is not a heart stopping powerful whisky but it does make for a well composed “round” whisky with an added touch of excitement.  The spice from the new oak along with the higher ABV make for a very user friendly whisky in that you can control the flavor settings with water.  All in all this is a tasty whisky that I did enjoy.

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Coinsidences and Glenfiddich 30

I am not a particularly superstitious – the stars have aligned – kinda person but I prepared most of this post last night with the hopes of finishing it up today and publishing it.  Fast forward to about 12:30 today – I was on my lunch break run that I sometimes try to squeeze in and I spot a cask sitting across the street from the San Francisco Ferry Building.  Then I remembered that Glenfiddich is promoting their Cask of Dreams this Tuesday.  And sure enough I spot Glenfiddich’s West Coast Ambassador Mitch Bechard a couple of paces away from the sadly empty cask – probably better since I was actually attempting to be healthy.  The Cask of Dreams campaign has casks being brought to different landmarks in Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington DC and along the way people will write their aspirations and dreams on the casks.  I chatted for a bit then scratched my aspiration on the cask with a sharpie and headed off to complete the task at hand – a run.  I am not going to mention what I wrote as my aspiration so as not to jinx it . . . maybe I am a little superstitious? 

Now back to the Glenfiddich 30.  In an earlier post about Glenfiddich I commented on the presence of this distillery’s whisky in almost every bar and restaurant.  For the most part though, the whiskies available are from the standard lineup of 12, 15, 18 and if you are really lucky the 21 year old rum cask.  Today I am trying one of their more limited expressions: the 30 year old.  There are even more rare and older expressions from Glenfiddich, the 40 and 50 year, unfortunately I would need to move the decimal point on my salary significantly to the right in order to afford those.  The 30 year definitely costs a pretty penny, but relatively speaking for a 30 year old distillery bottling it is reasonably priced.  I have to admit, the packaging is really nice, a lot better than a standard cardboard tube or tin. – Chris

Glenfiddich 30 ~$250 40%ABV

Color:  Orange/yellow, light copper

Nose:  Vibrant pears, vanilla, deep oak presence, nicely knit bourbon and sherry notes, complex, spices: cloves and cinnamon, chocolate/fudge

Palate:  Chocolate, smooth but complex, a deep wood influence, a nice sweetness, surprisingly lively, some spiciness, drying, fudge towards the end

Finish:  Long lingering spice

Comments:  Nice and smooth as expected, but it is still interesting and complex.  I can see how some would really enjoy this whisky.  For those that are into cask strength and big bold flavors, this is probably not for you.  But if you want a refined deep flavored whisky then this might be right up your alley.

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Hidden in Plain Sight: Glenfiddich Tasting

Who doesn’t know of Glenfiddich? It is everywhere – from high end specialty whisky shops to the corner liquor store and everything in between. It is the world’s best selling Scotch whisky in the world – by a fairly significant margin at that.   So it is really no surprise that you can find Glenfiddich everywhere.

But who really “knows” Glenfiddich?  Admittedly, we have passed on Glenfiddich expressions in the past – being of the mindset that they were run of the mill and nothing special.  Almost, every bar has a bottle of the 12 sitting on the shelf, but we usually pass on it in search of something more exotic.  Sure, Glenfiddich is the most awarded Scotch whisky in the world, but to be honest, awards don’t mean a hell of a lot to us.  Had we hopped into the saddle of the proverbial high horse – too good to drink what is common and actually mistaken common to mean not good?  We were close, damn close in fact, but luckily we were saved from riding off into the sunset of this bourgeois whisky mindset and had the pleasure of Mitch Bechard, Glenfiddich’s west coast ambassador guide us through our January whisky tasting.

The January tasting had actually been a long time in the making.  Yes, we actually planned this one out ahead of time which is fairly unheard of for us.  However, since we did plan in advance we were able to fill up all of the seats for this event and actually had to turn down quite a few folks that wanted to come.

Upon entering the room you found the table was set with three different pours of Glenfiddich in Glencairns for each person.  This was going to be a little break from the norm – a blind tasting.  We all settled into our seats and the event kicked off promptly at 7pm.  Mitch skillfully provided us all with a great introduction into whisky in general as well as to Glenfiddich.  When we say skillfully we mean he was able to do it in a manner that was both informative and entertaining; keeping us interested and engaged.  This was not an easy thing to do considering the diversity of the attendees:  from the casual drinker who has had a whisky or two before all the way to full on whisky nerds.

We were walked through each of the three expressions, as we nosed and tasted them.  Mitch gave us some of his impressions and solicited the impressions of the audience.  The first expression was crisp, fresh and clean with apples and green pears.  The crispness was refreshing and delightful.  The crisp pear flavors teamed up with honey, vanilla, and a touch of dough and spice all enmeshed in a bright, grain-filled palate.  This is about as refreshing as whisky gets.  An excellent morning tipple.

Next we moved into the second expression.  Here the signature pear flavors were present but moderated by berries and red wine (not only in the nose but in the reddish tinge added to the color).  Still retaining some of its younger brother’s crispness, roasted malts and toffee develop and some tasty, chewable sugars lingered.  This whisky achieves a great balance of youthful brightness combined with darker, mature notes that come with age.  Nate commented that he could have drank this all night.  And actually, he did.

Last, we moved into the third expression.  The color took on a honey-and-auburn hue.  The nose delivered a dash of spice, simple syrup, sugared fruit, and a solid waft of grains.  An interesting body with dark sugars that became dry and then rich with a decent amount of heat at the back, where a bit of pepper picked up the tail.

After finishing all three, a quick survey of what we all enjoyed best was taken – the second was the consensus favorite, followed by the third then the first.  After that we learned what each expression was.  The first was the 12 year old followed by the 15 and then the 18.  We took a quick break from tasting so that some appetizers could be served and we could pad the stomach a little bit for what was to come.

Once we had the chance to delight our palates with a more solid form of sustenance, we prepared for the next Glenfiddich expression.  This time it was the 21 year old Grand Reserva Caribbean Rum Cask.  This was a significant divergence from the traditional Glenfiddich flavors permeating the 12, 15, and 18.  While the fruit-and-malt flavors were there, the addition of caramel, unsweetened chocolate, spice/pepper, and a hint of ash – maybe even a little peat – worked their way onto the scene.  A tasty alternative to the younger releases.

Most would be satisfied with the broad swath Glenfiddich expressions so far, but not us.  And especially since this marked the our fourth anniversary of whisky tastings.  So in order to properly commemorate this milestone the 30 year old Glenfiddich was poured for all in attendance to sample.  Although as we have espoused before, age does not necessarily correlate to quality, the 30 year is a damn fine dram.  The deep complex flavors are accompanied by a vibrancy that is rarely tasted in such old malts.  This is a great whisky to celebrate with.  We will give a more detailed impression of the 30 is a separate post shortly.  And its box alone deserves a separate posting.  Yes, we too sometimes drink the marketing Kool-Aid.

The 30 concluded the formal part of the our tasting and Mitch was generous enough to stick around after to chat and answer questions.  This led us to the informal part of the tasting.  The 102 proof expression of Glenfiddich, which is aged 15 years, was put into circulation for everyone to enjoy as well as another bottle of the 15 and 18 just in case people didn’t get their fill on the first round.  The cask version of the 15 was not simply a stronger version, either.  The pour was enhanced with a lush, buttery caramel and fruit nose.  A full mouth feel let you savor the fruit, berries, and lightly charred grains to a numbing, lingering finish.

Unfortunately the evening did have to come to an end.  All in all it was a great evening of whisky, conversation, good fun and revelations:  remember that searching for the latest, greatest and most spectacular dram can blind you to some great whisky that has been right in front of you…hidden in plain sight.

A huge thank you to Mitch for taking time out of your schedule to visit with us.  I am happy to say that everyone I spoke with had high praises for you and really enjoyed your presentation.  Till next time.  Cheers!

*Thanks to Sarah and Dara for the great pictures!

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Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix

Glenfiddich is one of the long standing pillars of the Scotch whisky world. Recently, with the exception of a rum cask here and a solara method there, the Glenfiddich range has stayed the course and remained extremely consistent.  Some might argue boring.  Well for all those that hold this belief, we encourage you to give their latest release a try.  The Snow Phoenix is a limited release that is bottled at cask strength.  It is a vatting of 13 to 30 year old whiskies.  The story behind his release is that one of the storage warehouses collapsed under the weight of built up snow.  This resulted in the barrels that were aging being exposed to the elements.  Malt Master Brian Kinsman selected several casks and married them together to produce the Snow Phoenix.  There are only 12,o00 bottles allotted for the US.

We had the fortune of trying the Snow Phoenix last Monday with Glenfiddich’s West Coast Ambassador Mitch Bechard.  Many thanks Mitch!

Snow Phoenix 47.6%ABV ~$89.99

Chris’ Impressions:

Color:  Light yellow

Nose:  Vibrant alcohol, pear, sweet, powdered sugar, floral

Palate:  Big apples and pears, honey, alcohol numbness, malty dough, surprising spice

Finish:  Medium

Comments:  This is a very interesting and complex dram that has a lot of life to it – vibrant.  I love the fact that it is bottled at cask strength. It is really good to see (taste?) Glenfiddich taking the path less traveled by them.  Mr. Frost would approve – poor pun intended.  At the price point, I would strongly consider picking up a bottle of this limited release.

Nate’s Impressions:

I felt lucky to have an opportunity to sample this prior to the official release.  The color was particularly light with a tinge of gold.  A significant divergence from its name, the nose was pear, honey, vanilla, slightly roasted earth, and Spring.  A slightly viscous body delivered mild heat, roasted pear and grain with some bourbon in the background and a spicy, sweet wine note somewhere in the background.  This whisky starts pleasant and then gets fun.  It riddles out the best aspects of the 12 year and the 15 year and weaves them together with some curiously fresh flavors.  I am glad to see Glenfiddich mixing up the line-up (even if only temporarily) with this well-crafted edition.

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