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.
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.
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.
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