Jul 182014

This is the first mass market Glenfiddich foray into sherry casks. My excited first thought was “wow, here’s a sherry bomb from Glenfiddich”, and this is, indeed, the most interesting of the Cask Collection trio. This dram suffers, however, from two flaws, probably owning to the low ABV, chill filtration and coloring, which succeed in toning down some of the more classic sherry notes and highlighting the relatively generic “sweetness” I mentioned in my review of the Vintage Cask and the Select Cask.

Photo Credit: Glenfiddich

Photo Credit: Glenfiddich

This expression is, by far, the most interesting of the three, and has the most potential. I’d absolutely LOVE to taste this expression at natural cask strength (and obviously non chill filtered and with no artificial coloring), and I think that at cask strength this could be the expression to bring  the malt maniacs (back?) into the fold. Of course, I have previously ranted about the fact that Glenfiddich probably has no interest in bringing us into its fold, but I won’t go back into that.

Glenfiddich Reserve Cask (40% ABV)

Photo Credit: www.onlinecava.com

Photo Credit: www.onlinecava.com


Color: Light bronze, quick and thick legs.

Nose: Oloroso sherry jumps up at you, with hints of sulfur and balsamic vinegar yet with the expected sherry nose of sultana raisins and dried fruit are somewhat toned down.

Palate: The basic barley sugar sweetness found in the other Cask Collection expressions, some sherry notes, with oloroso coming through. Notes of Coca-Cola (yes, you read that right…) and sugar water with a faint sulfuric note.

Linger: Long on the tongue and the back of the throat, with that generic sugar water sweetness lingering.



All three Cask Collection expressions are variants on the same theme. Different brush strokes on the same canvass. All three are drinkable, but none will rock your world. This expression – the Reserve Cask – has some promise, and at at a significantly higher ABV could be a fascinating dram. What a shame it is that only Brian Kinsman gets that pleasure – and I would ask Mr. Kinsman to please share it with us.



Jul 172014

The Select Cask is a single malt blending of ex bourbon, ex European oak and red wine casks. As I mentioned in the first post in the series, all three expressions in this series share an underlying sweetness, and are generally very gentle drams.

Photo Credit: Glenfiddich.com

Photo Credit: Glenfiddich.com

With no further ado, I’ll review the Select Cask.


Glenfiddich Select Cask (40% ABV)

Photo Credit: onlinecava.com

Photo Credit: onlinecava.com

Color: Straw, Quick and thick legs

Nose: Very warm nose, vinegar (not exactly the balsamic you get from some sherry matured whisky), hay, malt. After a bit of time the vinegar is almost overpowering with sake notes (Japanese rice wine).

Palate: Honey, barley sugar, hints of mango. The palate is not overly complex.

Linger: Medium on palate, long in the back of the throat, with sweet notes on the tongue. Some dry and tannic sourness on the inner cheeks.

Jul 162014

Readers of this blog will find it not surprising that had my relationship with Glenfiddich been on Facebook, it would have been classified as “it’s complicated”.

On the one hand, I have a special place in my heart for that first love, that green, mysterious, triangular bottle in the black tube I first saw when I was about seven. On the other hand, their expressions are just not interesting enough to captivate me as a whisky fan who is approaching the 70 distillery mark of single malt whiskys (69, to be precise, not counting any non single malts: bourbon, rye or Canadian whisky). So I keep trying, and I keep saying “it’s drinkable, but I wouldn’t buy it”, and go on excited to try anything new Glenfiddich puts out. I think I matured a bit when I held off on buying tickets (55 Quid, mind you) for the Glenfiddich Master Class at the Whisky show, preferring to allocate that money to tasting “dream drams”, tokens to which are 10 pounds each, and the drams are 1-3 tokens each, depending on the cost of the bottle.

To William Grant and Sons’ credit I will say, that you and I are probably not really the target market for Glenfiddich, and that’s what The Balvenie is for. Malt heads are a fraction of the global market, so I don’t think we’re that high on the distillery’s agenda, and they seem to know what they’re doing  as one out of every seven bottles of single malt whisky sold it the world, comes with a deer head on the lable.

Photo Credit: www.scotchmaltwhisky.co.uk

Photo Credit: www.scotchmaltwhisky.co.uk

That being said, it is, thus, not surprising to hear that i returned from a recent trip with a miniature pack of Glenfiddich’s three new cask expressions, all are married after maturation in a solera vat and labled as a cask selection: Vintage Cask (lightly peated), Select Cask  (bouron, European oak and red wine casks) and Reserve Cask (matured in sherry casks). In this series, I’ll review all three expressions.

Before I get to the actual notes, I want to mention that all three are very similar under the superflous cask effect. All three are very sweet and have someting young-ish about them. I’m not saying this as a bad thing, but you meet someting really familiar once you hold the whisky in your mouth for a few seconds. The Vintage Cask is lightly peated. Now, when Glenfiddich says “lightly peated” it means LIGHTLY. So lightly peated, that you’ll almost forget it’s there if you are accuastomed to peated whisky. And this brings us to the tasting notes.

Photo Credit: salefinder.com.au

Photo Credit: salefinder.com.au

Glenfiddich Vintage Cask (40% ABV)

Color: Gold. The legs take a long time to form and once they do, they run very thick.

Nose: Light peat and honey, malt, light notes of sherry sweetness, the Glenfiddich character is there, with notes of the 15 (my favorite of the core expressions). As time passes, the nose gets sweeter, with floral notes developing.

Palate: Citrus, light sherry and peat, fresh orange zest. Holding it in your mouth, it becomes extremely sweet.

Linger: Medium, sweet notes with the peat almost unnoticable (not quite matching my expectations and experiencee).


Conclusion: Neither fish nor fowl….It’s not enough of a peated whisky to satisfy the peat lovers, and it’s probably too peated for people who dislike peated whisky. The sweetness is independent of the peat, not bourne from it, like the Islay peated whiskys.  My verdict? This expression is strange….not undrinkable, just strange. It left me completely indifferent to it.