Glenfiddich is one of the William Grant & Sons distilleries, and in fact, one of the few single malt distilleries that’s still family owned and operated in Scotland. In 1886, William Grant set out with his 9 kids (long winters in Scotland, eh?) to build a distillery, to make “the best dram in the valley.” He named it Glenfiddich, which in Gaelic means Valley of the Deer. The first drop of what has become the world’s most awarded single malt Scotch (since 2000, as the legal people likely made the marketing people add) came out of the still on Christmas Day 1887. Quite a fine gift, I’d say!
I had the pleasure of talking with David Allardice, the Glenfiddich brand ambassador for the middle chunk of the country. A Scotsman with a traveling case of really tasty whisky? Count me in!
First up was the 15 year, which is a blend of whiskys aged in three different types of wood: sherry, bourbon and new oak. If you’re new to Scotch, this is the one that David suggested as a good starting point. I found it to have a lighter, pleasant taste that was very easy to drink. Plus, it’s a decent price at about $50 a bottle.
Oh wait – let’s get the, “I don’t like Scotch, because I don’t like peat” discussion out of the way. Just because it’s Scotch, it doesn’t mean it’s peated. If you’re not sure what’s peated or not, ask your friendly bartender….or just choose Glenfiddich!
OK, back to the whisky. Next up was the 18 year, which was also quite delicious. Glenfiddich is one of the only distilleries that has their own on-site cooperage (the guys that make barrels). In this case, they don’t make their own from scratch, but repair and rejuvenate the ones they get, to get optimal flavor and use. The 18 year gets more than 2/3 of its flavor from the wood it’s matured in (bourbon and sherry again) so it’s important that the barrels stay in top condition. Price is a bit more of a commitment, at around $120.
Now, you might think that naming a whisky “Excellence” is a bit of hubris. And in some other 26 year old whisky, I might agree. For Glenfiddich Excellence 26 Year Old whisky, I’d say they’re spot on. It’s also only the 2nd Glenfiddich whisky matured in 100% American oak. It has rich vanilla notes, along with an almost caramel/fruit nose. It’s lighter in color, but has a nicely balanced flavor, with a bit of spice mid-palate. (Yes, I took better notes on this one, knowing I’d likely never have it again). Price is likely out of range for all but the biggest budgets – around $500 a bottle.
The final taste was another I won’t likely get, as it’s only available in duty free shops. But I’d be willing to pay for it, if anyone is headed on an international trip (hint, hint). The Vintage Cask was my favorite – and the only Glenfiddich that’s lightly peated. To me, it had less iodine and more of what I think of as a campfire smoke. It was great layer to the sweeter whisky that I’d come to expect from their other expressions. It looks like it’s about £71($106). Pick it up if you’re out and about!
I’d definitely suggest trying Glenfiddich whisky (with or without your own Scotsman with a traveling case). It’s been around for a few years, but it’s not your grandfather’s dram – try it and see!
Article by: Jeanne Runkle