William Grant and Sons has a brilliant marketing department. Having two widely sold single malt distilleries in Speyside (I’m leaving Kininvie out of this post, as it’s really a blender for Grant’s), they have each catering to a different demographic. While Balvenie caters to the whisky anorak crowd, and does so successfully – despite my own misgivings about targeting that crowd with expressions at 40% ABV, a habit that is thankfully changing with the newer releases – as a boutique distillery, Glenfiddich caters to the masses.
Indeed, until two years ago, Glenfiddich was the top selling single malt in the world, and despite losing that title to The Glenlivet, is nevertheless not only an entry malt, but one of the most accessible whiskies on the market. Anoraks tend to snub at Glenfiddich, but I have claimed before and do so again that this is the presentation that’s chill filtered and low ABV, and not the whisky. There is no doubt in my mind that Glenfiddich straight out of the cask is excellent, and the (sadly too few) tastings I’ve had of Glenfiddich at cask strength have confirmed that.
This expression is a travel retail exclusive, and has been out since 2014.
Glenfiddich Rare Oak 25 Years Old (43% ABV)
Appearance: Pale bronze, thin and rather slow legs peeling off a sturdy necklace.
Nose: Red apple and yellow pear, oak, it’s somewhat waxy, very sweet wood spices, it gets more sour and dry as it sits in the glass.
Palate: Spicy, with wood tannin bitterness. The age shows on the palate. Under the spice is a layer of sweetness, but it’s very mild. This is by no means a sweet dram. There’s a hint of dusty sherry there, but not more than a hint.
Linger: Predominantly bitter, yet not the citrus kind, rather more a woody kind. The bitterness is very dry, and sits in a ring from the base of the tongue up the palate and to the back of the throat. The bitterness was almost too strong, even for me (and that’s saying a lot about bitterness), The finish is long with that bitterness, pepper, some sage and a hint of milk chocolate. The dryness will be with you for a long time.
On the one hand, this is a very well crafted whisky, on the other hand, some of its components need some softening. I think I’d add either a little more sherry influence, or possibly use some whisky from some less active casks to tone it down. Of course, one would assume that most of this whisky is from less active casks in the first place, if the whisky sat in them for a quarter of a century, but I would definitely tweak it a bit.
If, however, you’re traveling and have your mind set on getting a 25 year old from William Grant, get this one over the Balvenie Triple Cask 25 any day of the week!
Thanks Ishai for the dram. Slainte mate!