Mar 102015
 

Glenfiddich 21 y.o. Gran Reserva Rum Cask Finish237

40% abv

Score:  87.5/100

 

I’ve never really loved a Glenfiddich. Nor have I ever fallen head over heels for a rum cask matured or finished whisky. I’ve liked some of each, but that’s about as committal as I’ve ever been willing to concede.  So far, at least.  I should also add that I have tried several malts that have been matured in this manner, including both Ardbeg and Port Ellen bottlings.  Just not really my thing.

‘Fiddich, in and of itself, boasts a rather generic profile that doesn’t really thrill me, and rum is a spirit that hasn’t won over these sweet-shy taste buds.  Put ’em together, though, and I’m pleased to say we end up with something that equals a bit more than just the sum of its parts.  There actually is a bit of harmony here.

Rum can often carry burnt sugar or bitter, tarry molasses notes and over-the-top bucketloads of vanilla and spice.  My early fears were that these notes would steamroll the more delicate nuances of a 21 year old 40%’er.  Fortunately it was a short finishing period (four months, from what I understand), and it seems that these were very clean rum barrels that gave up a decent amount of influence without being overbearing.

To be completely honest, this is almost exactly what I expected it would be, albeit maybe slightly better integrated than I thought was possible. Glenfiddich’s robust orchard fruitiness works quite well with the sugars and spices from the rum barrels.

Still not in love, but definitely in ‘like’ with this one.

Nose:  Very sweet.  Cinnamon candy apples.  A touch of orange.  Caramel.  Decent sprinkling of spice.  Honey and syrup.  A soft light fudgy note and yeah, a little bit of rum’s spicy sweetness.  Something like a Caramel Macchiato.

Palate:  A bit of a letdown after the promise of the nose.  A touch oakier than I’d expect.  Caramel apple.  Cinnamon, coffee bean, a little ginger and a bitterness that could be a sort of molasses note.  Or maybe that’s just the power of suggestion.

Thoughts:  Not spectacular, but at least quite good.  The mouthfeel is a little lacking, and the finish is short, but overall a fairly successful malt-meets-rum experiment.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 11:02 am
Nov 232013
 

Glenfiddich 15 y.o. Distillery Edition177

51% abv

Score:  87.5/100

 

Yes! Yes! Yes!  Even the mighty Glenfiddich, from its soaring battlements and seemingly inpregnable walls, is hearing the battle cry.  The seiging masses below – calling for a less adulterated malt and a more hefty offering – have been bombarding the industry for years now and I would unequivocally argue…are winning.  Here, I believe, is the end result of the efforts of bloggers, vloggers and tweeters (oh my!).

It would seem our voices have carried well enough to get the message across.  This is impressive.  If you’re anything like me, you’re so used to the watered down run-o’-the-mill presentation of the Glenfiddich core range that this will come as a truly welcome gift.  While I do have a healthy level of respect for the distillery, I won’t suggest our relationship at this point is based on anything other than just that.  Respect.

But there’s more to my appreciation of this particular 15 year old Distillery Edition than just it’s presentation.  To me this represents potential.  Knowing as we do just how big Glenfiddich is, can you even conceive of the ‘whisky world’ implications if a distillery as forefront as this were to declare 46% their minimum abv offering?  Sigh.  If only…

Anyway, daydreaming aside, this is a damn good whisky.  It’s not great, but it is an absolutely worthwhile purchase and one to keep on the shelf.  The distillery’s profile is not likely one that will ever truly excite me, but it’s crispy clean fruits and blemish-free veneer make it an easy dram to approach on any occasion for any drinker.  So, while I concede I’m not the biggest Glenfiddich fan, this one does come highly recommended.

Nose:  Caramel apple.  Pepper.  Wow…would not expect this in a Glenfiddich.  Creamy and balanced.  Fudgy.  Vanilla.  Come cocoa.  Nice spices and dried flowers.  Salty dough.

Palate:  Apple slices in chocolate.  Vanilla cream.  Dash of pepper and clove.  Some nice lively fruit notes.  Spicy.  Great mouthfeel.  Pleasant and drinkable.  Oak and apple back notes.  Slight floral overtones.  Nice hold at the end.

Shows there can be more to Glenfiddich than just homogeneity and fat sales.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 9:41 pm
May 042013
 

Glenfiddich 15 y.o. Solera008

40% abv

Score:  86/100

a
Don’t be put off by the name Glenfiddich. There is a reason it is the world’s leading single malt. Many malters cut their teeth on this whisky, then for whatever reason, turn their backs on its streamlined simplicity as they start branching out into the wide world of malt. If this is the case with anyone reading this, I recommend a suspension of snobbery for a brief moment or two and to give the 15 year old Solera a shot.

It is truly astounding what 3 more years in the cask and a unique vatting can do to a whisky. The Glenfiddich 15 Solera is absolutely a different beast than its younger kin.

The Solera vat in question is used to marry the casks together which constitute the 15 year old. These casks are American bourbon, Spanish sherry and new oak. The Solera ‘feed from the top, pour from the bottom’ system allows the whisky to be continually blended and ensures a high level of consistency. Not only consistency, but also to theoretically allow the end product to contain some whisky older than its years.  Nifty, but with the amount Glenfiddich produces, I can scarce believe that much of the spirit sits around long enough in the vat to actually accumulate older malt in its constitution.

It is hard to pinpoint just why this is so much better than the 12 year old. It is simply bolder, more refined and has a swagger that the 12 does not even pretend to.

Nose:  A hint of tobacco and spice. Apple, of course. A big young fruity Speyside kick, though mostly made up of a sour berry tang. This has its jagged corners rounded off with a honeyed floral character. Also some chocolate and mild-tempered sherry. None too atypical of most other rather pedestrian Speyside malt, but maybe slightly better composed.

Palate:  Rather bold.  That tart fruity tang hangs in there.  Met with apple and cinnamon spice.  Even though the body is fairly light, the finish is relatively long and surprisingly oaky.

Overall…well worth the extra few dollars over the 12 year old, and gets the extra points for a lack of seams and a rather flawless composition.

         

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 3:25 pm
Jul 152012
 

Glenfiddich 12 y.o.

40% abv

Score:  83/100

 

By show of hands, who here didn’t cut their teeth on this whisky?  The world’s best selling single malt, and deservedly so.  Not because it is the best, mind you…but because everything here is done right.  This is the perfect introduction to the world of whiskies.

Glenfiddich 12 y.o. is what we call a branded whisky.  Purists, scoff and raise your noses all you like.  I, like you, have a tendency toward the craft whiskies, but have learned in humility that some things, no matter how much we want to dislike them (ahem…Nickelback), are popular for a reason.  We want to blow the dust off of some obscure bottle and pour a glass with reverence…but a hard lesson to learn is NEVER put prestige before your taste buds.

The branded whiskies, like Glenfiddich are produced with an eye to consistency.  Generally bottled at 40% abv, colored with E150 caramel, packaged uniquely and identifiably and well marketed.  I think the idiom behind this is something along the lines of, ‘we found a good thing…and if it ain’t broke…don’t fix it’.  For this reason, the integrity of a bottle of Glenfiddich is for the most part uncompromised in terms of batch variation.  Every bottle is similar…every bottle is good, and it is readily available at a good price.

Is the Glenfiddich 12 a great whisky?  Well, no.  Is it a good whisky?  Absolutely.

The nose is gentle.  You can safely stick your beak right into the glass without eyes watering, and pull in a deep breath.  The rewards are sweet fruit and light spice.  Apple and chunky pear.  Perhaps vanilla.  Something refreshing there as well.

The simplicity of development is the biggest charm here, I believe.  Arrival is sweet and fruity.  A little bit of spice and creamy vanilla.  A little woody.  This isn’t one that unravels slowly and allows you to pull strands of flavor out individually, instead it is a nicely layered whisky that gives it all to you at once.  I have read of others picking out hints of peat and nut, but…not really seeing it.  The finish is pleasantly long, and the aftertaste mild.

An early evening sipper for certain.

         

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 2:37 pm
Jun 182012
 

Awkward is having your wife catch you with a sassy 18 year old.  Domestic nuclear winter is having her come home and find you messing around with nine 18 year olds at the same time.  Not that anyone would want to be in that situation.  Errr…ummm…

Ok, ok…listen up, boys.  They may be pretty…they may smell good…they may taste good…and they may not even be ‘out of your league’…but no 18 year old will ever give you what a stunning 32 year old can.  I promise.

Though usually I’d give you a few paragraphs of preamble before jumping in to the nitty gritty, this time let’s leave it up to the imagination…

Let me tell you a little about how this one goes.  First there was a fair-haired lass from Speyside…

 

Glenfiddich 18

43% abv

Nose:  Heather and gooey honey.  Big ol’ baskets of fruit and armfuls of flowers.  Creamy vanilla ice cream, drizzled in creme caramel.  Red apple.  Berries in cream.  Pancakes and syrup.  Oaky, but young and vibrant for 18 years.

Palate:  Smooth and unchallengingly sweet.  Creamy vanillins dance with dried fruit and crunchy apple.  Lovely really.  Almost refreshing.

Thoughts & Impressions:  She’s familiar and you can’t help but sneak a second peek.  Cute and red-apple-rosy-cheeked.  Probably dated the quarterback.  Do you have a chance?  Maybe.  Is she worth it?  Hmmmm…time will tell.

 

GlenDronach 18

46% abv 

Nose:  Heavy sherry, rich and sweet…could only be Oloroso.  Cherry and cocoa.  Cinnamon and gingerbread.  Vanilla.  Slight yeastiness.  Fruitcake, mild cigar leaf and deep plumminess.

Palate:  Slight bitterness, almost tannic.  Heavy raisin bread and rummy fruitcake.  Drying.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Bubbly and fresh, but…there’s a little more of a dark side here.  This is not vanilla sex.  This is jeans and cardigans by day…handcuffs by night.  There’s a sensibility and maturity here that tells you no one will ever know about this dark side but you.

 

 

Macallan 18

43% abv

Nose:  Rich and chewy sherry…but very soft.  Nutmeg and cream.  Muted cherry.  Toffee.  Heather.  Nearly faultless nose.

Palate:  Mildest of dried fruit.  Caramel.  Warm melted chocolate.  Oak.  Lasts none too long, but a beautiful top note and denouement.  Man…what exceptional balance.

Thoughts & Impressions:  This one is a princess.  She’s not in your bed ‘cause she wants to be.  She’s there ‘cause she’s slumming and looking for an experience.  Don’t get too settled…don’t fall in love.  You can’t afford the upkeep on this one.

 

Highland Park 18

43% abv

Nose:  Creamy honey and rich peat smoke.  Dusty, spicy vanilla.  Mild cigar.  Rich sweet butter.  A bouquet of soft fruit and barely seen floral notes.  Hint of dill.

Palate:  The delivery is unbelievably smooth and calculated. Rich wood smoke teases, then mellows out with sweet caramel notes

Thoughts & Impressions:  Messy-haired and ready for a pillow fight.  She’s not leaving till sun-up.  And that’s not ‘cause she wants to sleep.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 18

46.3% abv 

Nose:  Smoke and sherry.  Ashy peat.  Pear and sweet banana cream.  Some sort of orchard fruit.  Honey and vanilla.  Stunning interplay at work here.

Palate:  Gooey, chewy malt full of smoke.  Sherried honey oak and a complex tapestry of spritely fruits.   This is maturity and youthful zest in perfect harmony.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Just a down-home small town girl that everyone underestimates.  The thing is…she’s bloody brilliant at everything she does and no one who meets her can resist her.  This is a keeper, if only you were looking to settle down.

 

Talisker 18

45.8% abv 

Nose:  Yeah, baby…there’s the Talisker pepper!  Salt.  A peaty backbone.  Cinnamon and ginger.  Some kinda soft orange fruit.  Toblerone.  Warm leather.  An absolute classic on the nose alone.

Palate:  Pepper.  Surprisingly sweet and fruity.  Swirling ribbons of smoke.  Peat.  Faint notes of old sherry.  Such a phenomenal linger smoked green apple.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Yow!  She’s a spicy one.  Blonde and bold.  Fiery-tempered.  Full of personality.  Highly possible she’s also the love of your life.

 

 

Longrow 18

46% abv

Nose:  Prickly and peppery.  Hint o’ mint maybe.  Smoke and caramel.  Licorice.  Some salt and thick cream over blueberries.  Wee bit o’ peat, but not near what I’d generally expect from a Longrow.

Palate:  There’s the peat I expected on the nose.  Comes through with some spiced apples and smoke.  Lindt chocolate with chili.  Long, long finish.

Thoughts & Impressions:  The dark-haired younger sister of your girlfriend.  Sassier and miles more charming.  No, you’re not wrong…she is trying to seduce you.

 

Caol Ila 18

43% abv 

Nose:  Slightly ‘green’.  Honeydew melon.  Aloe.  Mild citrus.  Fruits are starting to come forward.  Salt.  Very light smoke.

Palate:  A little more smoke than on the nose.  Great green fruit delivery.  Lovely and uplifting.

Thoughts & Impressions:  She comes from the biggest house on the street.  Her parents have lots of money and drive brilliant cars. She’s the one everyone wants but are afraid to approach.  Shame, really.  She’s also a sweetheart, and easy to love.

 

 

Laphroaig 18

48% abv 

Nose:  Orange and chocolate.  Cedar.  Fruity.  Heavy vanilla and black licorice flavored jujubes.  Pear drops.  Sambuca and fruit bowl with dominant bananas.

Palate:  Poached and caramelized white fruits.  Floral smoke.  Some dark chocolate and Werther’s Originals.  Drying with tobacco and clean smoke.

Thoughts & Impressions:  This is a mysterious one.  Redolent of exotic and foreign perfumes.  Dark and alluring.  This is the Dashiel Hammett heroine seen through a haze in a dark and smoky bar.  You love her.  But can you handle her?

 

 

But…

After a romp like that I promise you you’ll still be left wondering ‘what if?’  And further, that empty feeling won’t be sated until you finally spend a little time with the one that should have had your attention all along…

 

Springbank 32

46% abv

Nose:  Smoke and wax.  Coconut milk and soft pineapple juice.  Marmalade.  Vanilla and oak.  Some tame spices.  Becomes fruitier and fruitier over time.

Palate:  There’s the maturity.  Waxy…smoky and oaky.  Dried fruit…apricot maybe.  Creosote.  Gorgeous, gorgeous oak.

Thoughts & Impressions:  She’s what you’ve waited for.  Vibrant and sweet.  The older she gets, the more you love her.  Age has taken all of her best and given it just a little more brilliance by imparting a mature knowing.

 

barry's place pics 014

How can you possibly top her?  Simple…you can’t.  I’ll take my beautiful 32 year old over any 18 year old…any day.

Happy birthday, babe.  Love you.  Always have.

 

– Tasting notes and write-up:  Curt

– Photos:  Curt (except Caol Ila, courtesy of Pat)

 Posted by at 10:50 pm
May 162012
 

Glenfiddich 18 y.o.

43% abv

Score:  87/100

 

Safe as safe can be.  If you’re a malt enthusiast…you’ll probably want to steer clear.  Perhaps finding this a little…run of the mill.  Or perhaps you’re of the sort that is mature enough in your stylings to simply appreciate a really well-made whisky when you try one.  This is not bells and whistles, flash and pomp, fireworks and sex scenes.  Glenfiddich is quite simple really.  A whisky whose craft will pass into lore as the absolute template on how to not go wrong.

The only problem for this guy?  It’s life’s beautiful mistakes that give this world the character and verve that makes me want to rise every morning.  Take away those bumps in the highway and I’m liable to fall asleep at the wheel.

As a rule…keep your Glensafe.  Nine times out of ten I’ll opt for a Springbank.

Though this may sound disparaging, it’s not particularly meant so (as I hope the score attests).  Just thought you and I should be on the same page going forward.

The nose is rich in heather and gooey honey.  Big ol’ baskets of fruit and armfuls of flowers.  Creamy vanilla ice cream, drizzled in creme caramel.  Red apple.  Berries in cream.  Pancakes and syrup.  Though the oak is becoming slightly more pronounced by this milestone, I still don’t think I would peg this at a full 18 years.  Young and vibrant.

The delivery is just as decisively competent as the nose.  Smooth and unchallengingly sweet.  Creamy vanillins dance with dried fruit and crunchy apple.  Lovely really.  Almost refreshing.

How do you fault a whisky of this quality and consistency?  Simple.  You call it boring.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 9:51 pm