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. Continue reading
Okay, back to K&L exclusives. I’ve quite liked the two I’ve already reviewed from this batch of casks—a Bunnahabhain 12 and a Craigellachie 16. Today’s review is of a cask going by name you migtht not recognize: Hector Macbeth. This is a a Glenfiddich that has been teaspooned. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry: it’s nothing kinky. Teaspooning refers to the practice of adding a tiny amount of a malt from a different distillery to a malt to prevent it from being sold as a single malt. It’s a practice certain distilleries engage in to keep their brand from being diluted—from their perspective—on the independent market; or, if not diluted, presented differently than they would like it to be. This K&L parcel contains a number of these teaspooned malts, some of them pretty old. This “Glenfiddich”, for example, is 23 years old. It was finished in a refill sherry butt (what kind of cask the teaspoon came from is unknown). I’m not sure if it’s still available but $120 was the price being asked for it when I last checked. That seems like a great deal in the abstract but my history with K&L exclusive casks with big age statements that are priced like they’re crazy deals has me not overly optimistic. But I’ll be very happy to be surprised. Continue reading
There was no way I was going to go to the Speyside and not stop in at either of the region’s two most historically significant names. The most significant distillery, of course, is Glenlivet. But Glenlivet was just a bit too far out of the way for our mostly non-whisky-obsessed group. Glenfiddich has the added attraction of being situated right by the ruins of Balvenie Castle. And so it was an easy choice to go to the distillery that pioneered the marketing of distillery-released single malt whisky in the early 1960s. Accordingly, we drove right there from Strathisla. The two make for quite a contrast, especially in quick juxtaposition. Continue reading
As there are so many older and relatively obscure whiskies on my list of potential reviews for January, I thought I’d begin with a more recognizable name: Glenfiddich. However, this is not, alas, one of their regular releases in the US. It used to be but was pulled a few years ago. It can still be found outside the US and at duty-free stores. It is a vatting of whisky matured in bourbon and sherry casks (in what proportion, I do not know) and is, unusually for Glenfiddich, bottled at the higher strength of 51%. My sample came from Michael K.’s bottle (you can read his review here).
Glenfiddich 15, Distillery Edition (51%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: A mix of orchard fruit (apples, pears) with rich aromas of pastry crust and vanilla. Gets sweeter as it goes, with honey and golden raisins, but also gets a touch grassy. With more time the fruit gets a bit musky (overripe pear, some citrus) and there’s a mild pepperiness too. A few drops of water make the fruit even more intense. Continue reading
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.
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. Continue reading
Here is my first review of a malt from the best known of all the Scottish distilleries, Glenfiddich. I have already recorded my thoughts about the low reputation of Glenfiddich (and Glenlivet) among whisky geeks and so will not repeat myself here. The Snow Phoenix may in fact be their most lauded malt in recent years among said whisky geeks and that’s despite it being a NAS (“No Age Stated”) release.
There is a story behind the release, and unlike most stories behind NAS whiskies this one is real. A couple of years ago heavy snow in Scotland resulted in the roofs of some Glenfiddich warehouses collapsing and to save the exposed stock the distillery created a special vatting from those barrels, which were of different ages and types. The resulting whisky was dubbed the “Snow Phoenix” and came in a tin large enough to house the entire population of the city of Phoenix. It was very well received, and unfortunately, but also entirely predictably, it led to Glenfiddich releasing yet more fancifully named whisky (this time with manufactured stories–see the so-called “Cask of Dreams”, and the “Age of Discovery”). I have not tried those others but quite liked the Snow Phoenix, and thus saved a large sample for future reference; and the future is now. Continue reading