Early in the beginning of the previous decade Glenfiddich seemingly decided to become a more interesting single malt producer. Not content with being the most recognizable bottle and most recognizable name in all of single malt whisky-dom in the world they decided they too needed the attention of the
obsessive idiots cool kids who make up a tiny fraction of the world whisky market—and indeed also of the world single malt market. The Snow Phoenix and its ludicrous tin may have been their entry into this phase, confirming as it did that obsessive idiots discerning malt drinkers will hoover up anything with a good story attached. Releases like the Age of Discovery and Cask of Dreams and Ark of the Covenant followed (okay, I made one of those up). Then things went quiet for a while (by which I mean I stopped paying attention: for all I know they kept putting out special releases). Then a few years ago they launched their so-called Experimental series. The IPA cask was the first in 2016 (I was intrigued but never got around to trying it). Then came the XX which was sexy but not did not involve penetration (or so I assume). Then something called the Winter Storm which was banned in Minnesota for being too close to life. Then came the Fire & Cane (in 2018?). This is made from a mix of peated and unpeated spirit that is finished in rum casks. How old is it? How dare you ask such personal questions! I was intrigued by this one as well and when a chance recently came to taste it via a bottle split I jumped at it. Let’s see what it’s like.
By the way, in looking up the details of this whisky I came across some very negative takes on it. I’m both apprehensive and a little intrigued.
Glenfiddich “Fire & Cane” (43%; from a bottle split)
Nose: A pleasant arrival with very mild and non-phenolic peat, lemon and some malty sweetness. The lemon expands as it sits and the smoke picks a faintly rubbery note—nothing offensive, more like the rubber gaskets of old medicine bottles. With time the lemon turns to citronella and there’s some paraffin mixed in with the peat. With more time still the malt expands further and there’s some very milky cocoa too now. A few drops of water push the peat back and amp up the fruit—some apricot now with the citrus.
Palate: Very much in line with the nose: mild smoke shading sweeter notes. The texture is decent at 43% and it packs a decent bite. The peat expands on the second sip and it’s all in the hot tarmac family now. A little more acid as it sits but otherwise no real change to report. Okay, let’s add water. Well, water doesn’t change much here.
Finish: Medium-long. The peat expands a bit, getting a bit peppery and then finally a little bitter towards the end. Pretty consistent here too with water.
Comments: There’s not very much to get excited about here but also nothing to object to. I’m at a bit of a loss to account for some of the highly negative comments I’ve read. Maybe just a matter of unmet expectations: this lands squarely between the Highland peat profile and a lightly peated Bladnoch for me; but perhaps not what someone after the normal Glenfiddich or the regulation Speyside profile is looking for? Still $60 is more than I’d pay for this; but at $40 or so I’d be happy to keep it on hand for those evenings when you want an uncomplicated mildly peated malt.
Rating: 85 points.