Continuing with my mini series of reviews of classic single malts here is perhaps the most famous, certainly the most ubiquitous of them all: the Glenfiddich 12. This sample is from a bottle released in 2002 though, and so is probably very like the first ever Glenfiddich 12 I ever had, which as for so many people (whether we like to admit it or not), is probably the first single malt whisky I ever had. I haven’t really had it very many times since then and so am intrigued to go back (in a sense) and see what I make of it now.
Glenfiddich 12, Special Reserve (40%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Grassy and sweet (confectioner’s sugar) with some lemon peel and a bit of melon. A little bit of toasted malt below all that. The fruit gets quite musky as it sits. A few drops of water and the malt seems to expand (or maybe it’s my imagination) but I’m not really seeing any other change of note.
Palate: Very much as on the nose. Very well balanced and much thicker texture than you’d expect at 40%. A little more bitterness on the second sip and more sweetness on the third and a touch of pepper but then it pretty much stays as it is. Let’s see if a bit of water does anything. Well, it doesn’t do it any favours. The fruit all but washes out and is replaced instead by a metallic sweetness that turns bitter quick.
Finish: Medium. The citrus separates from the pack and becomes the lead note. With more time it gets more bitter, but really, who doesn’t? The metallic note continues on the finish with water.
Comments: Much better than I was expecting. I have no memory of it from when I first tried it but on the few occasions since when I’ve encountered it in bars or at parties it was the grassiness that made the lasting impression. I really like the citrus here. No idea if the current edition is anything like this but if so I might get a bottle.
Rating: 80 points.
Thanks to Michael K. for the sample!
This was bottled around the time I had my first Glenfiddich 12 (and single malt) too. This particular bottle went very quickly. I almost finished it without setting aside samples. At some point before the year is over I’m going to compare it to a 2014 bottling to see if anything has changed. Without this direct comparison, I think the texture and finish were better than the current edition, but otherwise pretty similar.
I have a litre of NAS Glenfiddich “Pure Malt” I need to open sometime. Did you ever drink that one?
Nope—not even sure I’d ever heard of it before.
It might actually be referred to as “Glenfiddich Special Reserve” even though it says “Pure Malt” in big letters. In his 2004 Whisky Bible, JM seems to be quite upset with the new (?) 12yr old, giving it an 80 and the “missed more sorely than words can describe” Special Reserve an 88. ?? (Murray, 85)
The one I reviewed is the Glenfiddich 12 Special Reserve. I confess I’ve not paid much attention to Glenfiddich labels on account of the whole misplaced snobbery thing. But I think most stores that list the 12 describe it as the Special Reserve.
Any thoughts on the 15 year old Solera Reserve? It’s probably my favorite of the standard Glenfiddich line.
Haven’t had it in ages.