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Whisky Tasting Debrief: Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich Tasting Evening

Our tasting evening this month was hosted by Glenfiddich at The Clydeside Distillery on the 20th of June 2019. Glenfiddich’s ambassador, Mark Thompson talked us through Glenfiddich’s story and about the six unique whiskies that were sampled.

Glenfiddich Mark

Mark Thompson, Glenfiddich ambassador

What We Learned About Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich’s distillery dates back to 1887 and its importance is ingrained in their location in Dufftown. However, it was in fact the second distillery to be established in the small town. First was Mortlach, then after opening Glenfiddich, William Grant decided to open a second distillery, Balvenie, in the same town in 1892.

Interestingly, Glenfiddich, which is classed as a Speyside, produced a peated whisky until 1933. Their production of whisky has increased enormously over the last few decades where they now use 100 tonnes of barley a day.

Quite a revolutionary, Glenfiddich have always been bold and fast moving. They were the first to market their whisky as a single malt to an international audience.

Mark brought along Glenfiddich’s New Make Spirit and compared it alongside The Clydeside’s New Make. Glasses of each were passed round, and the group were allowed to compare both spirits. Despite the use of similar shaped stills and a similar production process, the two were completely different. Glenfiddich had a real grassiness to it, whereas The Clydeside’s had greater maltiness and fruitiness. A nice comparison to start the tasting.

The Drams

Mark introduced us to the new bottled packaging for their 12 year old, which was released only a few days before the event. Very similar to the old packaging but with a slight modern slickness to it, whilst maintaining the triangular bottle shape and green colour.  The 12 y/o has spent 85% of its life in American oak and 15% in European oak. The 12 y/o was described as a breakfast whisky, which defines its qualities perfectly.

We then moved onto the 18 year old, which was a lot darker in colour as a result of the sherry influence. Mark explained how they add a slight colouring to it but it does not affect the taste in any way. Certain notes were discussed; very rich, sweet and woodiness. The group were also informed that this is the Malt Masters favourite product from Glenfiddich’s portfolio.  

We then went onto their experimental series. Drams of three in the series were sampled and they all cleverly demonstrate Glenfiddich’s skills in creating unusual but fantastic whiskies.

Glenfiddich experimental series

Glenfiddich Experimental Series

XX (or Project 20) was first. The group heard the story behind the creation of this whisky, and what a story it is. The company asked 20 of their ambassadors to choose and write each of their names on 5 casks (out of 15,000). Drams from all casks were poured and each ambassador had to cut their choice down to the 1. XX has been created from a combination of the final 20 casks chosen by the ambassadors. In total, whiskies matured in 17 bourbon, 2 sherry and 1 port casks are included in XX. Have you saw the thumbprint on the XX bottle and wondered its significance? Well, it’s an accumulation of the thumbprints of all the 20 ambassadors who were involved– nice touch to the project.

Fire & Cane, is another from this product range. Again, Glenfiddich display their passion to be whisky trailblazers through this series and this product is something special. They have matured their peated whisky in Latin American rum casks, resulting in a peated whisky with a rum cask finish – it doesn’t sound as if these two should marry well together but it went down a treat. A pairing top tip – it goes very well with blue cheese and is paired particularly well with a porter (for a wee hauf and hauf).

Second last, the classic 21 year old. It has been matured in American oak, with a finish in rum casks. Glenfiddich changed the whole packaging of this bottle from a brown bottle and a brown label, to a bright, colourful red label and lovely packaging case to match. You can taste the tropical notes as a result from the rum, particularly a strong banana flavour. Perfect description of this on the nose was foamy banana sweets… This would go perfectly with a crème brulee dessert.

Glenfiddich Winter Storm

Glenfiddich Winter Storm

Lastly, another 21 year old whisky, Winter Storm from their experimental range. This product is in fact a limited edition in the product series.  It is their 21 y/o matured in American oak and finished in Canadian icewine casks. Again, Glenfiddich push boundaries and are creating unique whiskies from different cask combinations. It has extreme delicacy to it and waves of flavour seeping through at different stages.

Our next tasting evening is hosted by Distell, who will be showcasing a mix of drams from Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory. Book Your Tickets Here