By Franz Scheurer
Built by the William Grant family in 1887 Glenfiddich is one of a handful of family-owned whisky companies left in Scotland. Like everyone else, Glenfiddich started out producing Single Malts; when a change in law made it possible to produce blends, the market for Single Malts dwindled drastically. In these boom years for blended Scotch, malt whisky was considered unmarketable overseas, but the Grant family is indeed a family of visionaries and in 1963 they released the first Single Malt for export to the USA. Everyone laughed at them for swimming against the tide and for the use of the excentric (now signature) triangular bottle. However, time would prove them right, giving them such a head start in the Single Malt stakes that they are still the world’s best-selling Single Malt.
Although often dismissed by malt aficionados around the world as ‘too mainstream’, without Glenfiddich single malts would still be buried under a mountain of blends. Young Glenfiddich whiskies are light and pleasant and can make great introductory whiskies. Older expression are anything but boring and I suggest you have another look at a brand that helped shape the history of our favourite dram.
Glenfiddich is Scotland’s largest distillery and operates a total of 28 stills. The Robbie Dubh springs supply the water and, unusual in today’s world, the entire process takes place on the distillery premises. They do their own maltings, have an on-site cooperage, distil, age in ex-bourbon and sherry casks, and have their own bottling line.
Glenfiddich’s range includes a 12, 15, 18, 21 and 30 year old. I’m particularly enamoured of two of their whiskies and here are the tasting notes:
Glenfiddich Gran Reserva 21 y/o, 40% a/v
The Gran Reserva is finished in Cuban casks that previously held 4 y/o rum from the Sancti Spiritus region near the Sierra del Escambray in central Cuba.
Colour: Amber with a hint of burgundy.
Nose: Rich notes of Demerara sugar and molasses with forward notes of banana and ripe figs.
Palate: The banana, fig and molasses scents are confirmed but spicy aromas add balancing bass notes to a surprisingly dry, long and oaky finish.
Comment: This is a very good whisky indeed. I suggest you treat yourself to a good measure accompanied by a crème brûlée.
RRP $ 189
Glenfiddich 30 y/o, 40% a/v
Aged in Glenfiddich’s Dunnage warehouses alongside whiskies going back to the 1920s this ‘luxury’ expression is well worth the wait.
Colour: Old gold.
Nose: Cigar box, cedary oak and sherry notes mingle with darker, mahogany and rancio notes not unlike a fine Cognac.
Palate: Rich oak flavours with hints of mushroom and wet leaves transform to sweet, sherried cigar box notes with a mouth-filling texture and a long, dark, dry finish. Although most of the fruit flavours have long gone this is anything but a boring or one-dimensional whisky.
Comment: A terrific late evening contemplative drink in front of a blazing fire with not a worry in the world.
RRP $ 360
So next time you’re looking for a dram with a difference don’t discard Glenfiddich, you might just make a new friend!