The Glenfiddich Distillery is best known for producing single malt Scotch whiskies for the William Grant & Sons company. Glenfiddich is a Speyside distillery, and along with The Glenlivet and Macallan, completes the trinity of the world’s three bestselling single malt Scotch whiskies.
Not only are Glenfiddich single malts renowned worldwide, it is also one of the key source whiskies for many of William Grant & Sons blends such as Grant’s and Monkey Shoulder among others. The Glenfiddich name is roughly translated to ‘valley of the deer’ in Scottish Gaelic, and the brand’s logo is a ‘stag’, one of the few Scotch whisky brands to use the animal’s likeness for their brand.
Glenfiddich was founded by William Grant in 1886 near the glen of the River Fiddich. The distillery and brand are still family-owned, run by the fifth generation of William Grant’s descendants. The brand is known for their great quality and taste, which has helped them maintain a lasting stranglehold over the top three best-selling single malt Scotch brands title, which it has frequently competed for, and shared with The Glenlivet. Check out the expressions that form Glenfiddich’s core range, beginning from their standard bottlings to their most premium release.
The standard expression makes for a substantial chunk of sales for all whisky brands, and the standard Glenfiddich sets the tone well for the brand. The Glenfiddich 12 Year Old is a classic Glenfiddich expression and it embodies all the pleasantly beloved Speyside characteristics which make it so popular. Light, sweet and easy-going, it is a great drink for people that are easing into the world of whisky.
Glenfiddich mature this expression in American Oak, and European Sherry Oak barrels for 12 years, administering some very desirable qualities into the spirit. The nose is floral, sweet, fruity and slightly malty, as one would expect from a classic Speyside 12 Year Old. The palate is light, refreshing and floral with a hint of spice which is a welcome addition. There is some fruit and wood brought along towards the end. This is good stuff and a bottle to have lying around the house for company, or top sip on after dinner on a weekend. Reliable and consistent stuff from Glenfiddich.
With single malts, the Glenfiddich 15 Year Old is a segment wherein competition begins to heat up, and distilleries begin to bring out their best. Glenfiddich have opted to mature their 15 year old single malt in a variety of barrels such as American ex-Bourbon Oak, Portuguese Sherry and virgin Oak. The combination of flavours and aromas infused into the spirit is quite interesting.
Glenfiddich have taken things a step further by vatting the whiskies in a Solera Oak tun, inspired by Sherry makers in Spain and Portugal. This Solera tun has never been completely emptied since 1998 according to Glenfiddich, and this plays a pivotal role in shaping up the whisky’s profile. The Glenfiddich 15 Year old carries aromas of honey, vanilla fudge and orchard fruits, and the palate is full of Sherry sweetness and spice. There’s also candied ginger, and the finish lingers with a delicious sweetness. Not as complex as you might expect, but good stuff nevertheless.
The Glenfiddich 18 Year Old Small Batch Reserve is a fairly uncommon conflation of the Speyside and Sherry profile, and this full-bodied single malt is a pretty robust expression if not the best there is. What sets this 18 Year Old apart is the double cask maturation, and we are not just talking a finishing period of just 6 months to a year. We are talking an entire 18 years of maturation in two different barrels, ex-American Bourbon and ex-Sherry butts.
The single malt is divided into two separate portions, and aged in two different barrels, then married to create the Glenfiddich 18 Year Old Small Batch Reserve. Needless to say this single malt has its fair share of time to draw the strongest influence from both the barrels, and the result is rather pleasing. Lots of dried fruit, marmalade and cinnamon on the nose, and some fresh sugary fruit, sweet toffee and Sherry spice on the palate. The finish is long and warming, with oak and sweet pears. No peat or smoke as you would expect from a classic Speyside.
The Glenfiddich 21 Year Old is a particularly odd member of the Glenfiddich family, but not in a bad way. In fact, this one is a very welcome oddity, and quite an innovation from the company. As the name suggests, Glenfiddich 21 Year Old Reserva Rum Cask finished is finished in rum casks.
This delightful Speyside single malt spends the last four months of its journey in Caribbean rum casks, absorbing all the unique flavours and aromas from the Oak. It was earlier released in way back in 2002, and was known as the Havana Reserve, but as you can see that name wasn’t quite accurate. It was then rebranded as the Gran Reserva, before being rebranded once again to its current name and re-released in 2016 with a new look. What’s in the bottle? As one would expect, there is a discernible sweetness, lots of fruity aromas with this one, and the palate brings even more flavours to the fore. Fruits, vanilla, honey sweetness and soft spice with just a hint of Oak. The finish is smooth, dry and very long.
Released as part of the Global Travel Retail range, this Glenfiddich expression is a no-age-statement single malt Scotch whisky. It is part of a series of single malts matured and finished in a combination of barrels, selected carefully by the Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman. As many as three barrels were used by Kinsman for the Glenfiddich Select Cask.
Ex-Bourbon, ex-European Oak and red wine barrels have been used for this expression, and then whisky is then married together in a Solera vat. Whiskies in a Solera vat are never emptied fully, and half their content is always preserved, then mixed with a new batch, then repeating the same method. Floral aromas mixed with vanilla, caramel and lemon zest are present, and the palate presents a soft and mellow drink. With a light, refreshing profile that brings sweet and spicy flavours of honey and crushed black pepper to the fore, with a medium, balanced finish to round things off.
Another expression released as part of the Cask Collection by Glenfiddich, the Reserve Cask is another no-age-statement bottling. Malt Master Brian Kinsman crafts another single malt Scotch matured and finished in a variety of Oak barrels. The Reserve Cask has been matured exclusively in Spanish Sherry Oak, unlike the Select Cask which was matured in three different barrels. The vatting for this expression still takes place through the Solera method, just like all the three Cask Collection releases.
As you will have expected, the Reserve Cask’s maturation exclusively in Sherry casks imparts a considerable influence into the whisky. The result is a very richly flavoured, aromatic single malt, and despite of not having an age-statement, the Reserve Cask is quite mellow. There is nothing that knocks the ball out of the park, but this is a solid expression from Glenfiddich. Lots of sherry, once again as expected with some fruit, sweet caramel and a whisper of smoke. A good collection of agreeable hits and a good whisky to have at hand for mildly special occasions.
The third and final expression that completes Glenfiddich’s Cask Collection series is the Vintage Cask. This one is also exclusively sold as part of their Global Travel Retail range, and revisits the past of the Glenfiddich distillery. Malt Master Brian Kinsman opts to use American and European Oak barrels to mature this no-age-statement single malt. What is special about the Vintage Cask release is the presence of heavily peated source whiskies in the vat. This release too has been vatted using the Solera method, but that is not the bit about this single malt that stands out.
The smoke really adds another dimension to the Glenfiddich Vintage Cask, and the unexpected twist does make your eyebrows go up in surprise. Floral and smoky notes combine to form a very complex nose, and there are a bunch of interesting flavours on the palate. Caramelized oak, creamy vanilla and more of that smoky floral character pop out, before departing with a long finish. You can see why the Vintage Cask was quite a pricey release, and Glenfiddich have really put some work into this one. Not bad at all.