These days pretty much every distillery has boarded the peat train (from Tomatin to Knockdhu/An Cnoc to Bunnahabhain) but you can’t accuse Glenfiddich of being followers. This peated Glenfiddich (Caoran apparently means “peat ember”) was first released early in the 2000s (there’s a Whisky mag review by Michael Jackson and Dave Broom from 2002); and another indication of it not being a product of the moment is that it had an age statement, being 12 years old. The bottle my samples came from was released in 2005. I don’t see any listings for it on Whiskybase after 2008 and so assume it is no longer being produced. If this is an incorrect assumption please let me know below and I will add it to my long list of lazy errors. (I do see that some stores in the US still list it, but Glenfiddich’s own site does not.)
Tangentially: does anyone know which distilleries with official releases that were hitherto sans tangible peat have not jumped on the peated whisky train in recent years? Other than Glengoyne, that is. Off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure Macallan haven’t and probably not Glen Grant, Glenrothes or Glenlivet.
Glenfiddich 12, Caoran Reserve (40%; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Just a hint of smoke and a lot more fruit—some citrus and also tart apple; there’s a sweeter floral note as well. With more time it gets a little grassy, but stays fresh throughout. The fruit concentrates a bit as it sits and the smoke grows from a hint to a suggestion.
Palate: Watery and then chilli peppery and then astringent (the smoke is stronger here but is like artificial liquid smoke). Not getting the fruit here at all at first. On the second sip there’s wet cardboard and a hint of scorched plastic. Stays nasty for a while and then after a lot of time (while I pondered pouring the rest out) the astringent/sharp notes subside somewhat. Hints of the fruit are now present but none of it adds up to goodness or balance. Okay, a drop of water fixes this a bit. The astringent notes are dimmed a lot more and the fruit talks a little louder.
Finish: Much longer than I’d like it to be and much longer than you’d expect given the thin mouthfeel. The plastic gets stronger as it goes. Gets a little blanker as it sits, thankfully.
Comment: I really liked the nose (which suggested a whisky in the low-mid 80s) but man, the palate was nasty neat (though it did improve a bit with time and then with water). A curiosity but not one to spend very much money on. I’d recommend leaving the bottles still out there for the collectors and archivists.
Rating: 74 points (below 70 if I’d not waited it out or added water).