Friday 2 June 2017

[Scotland Stag] Glenfid-dicking around: Tour

Hi everyone,

Back with part three of the Scotland stag. Please excuse the title, I couldn't think of another Glenfiddich pun...

Day two we woke up pretty damn early because it got light at 5:00am. First thing today was the tour at Glenfiddich, so we drove over to Dufftown.
I had tried to get a tour at Balvenie but they only do one tour on a Friday and it was booked months in advance, oh well, something to come back for anyway.

Of course, Glenfiddich is a huge attraction to the area for a lot of people, being one of the most famous distilleries in the world. The tour started with a very over-dramatic video presentation, followed by a look at the surprisingly traditional distillery. The mash tun is very modern of course, but they are still using wooden washbacks and direct fired stills. The stills are also pretty small with downward sloping lyne arms, all of which should lead to a full bodied, rich whisky. From what I’ve tasted though, it doesn’t come through in the whisky. Glenfiddich is huge and we only saw one of the stills rooms, all packed full of small stills humming away.

Anywho, warehouses were next and we were shown one of the traditional dunnage ones with another dramatic video on barrel making. One very cool part of the tour was to get to smell some of the different types of barrels that had held Glenfiddich; a Bourbon barrel, a Sherry Hogshead and another one I can’t remember. The barrels had all held Glenfiddich for quite some time, I think one for 38 years or something, so they all smell really fruity and I couldn’t recognise any Sherry in the hogshead at all.

Next we got shown the ‘solera’ tuns. If you don’t know, it’s a method used for Sherry where you take some out of a barrel to bottle it but not all and you refill the rest of the barrel with slightly younger Sherry.
Glenfiddich took this idea and modified it slightly. They have some huge oak marrying tuns, the original recipe was blended and left to marry in the tun and some was removed for bottling, but the tun always remains at least half full and they top it up. This brings more consistency to the final product, which is the Glenfiddich 15 Solera.

Then it was over to the tasting bar, to try some whiskies I hadn’t bothered trying for years.

Glenfiddich 12 40%
Colour: Gold
Body: Light
Nose: Fruit, malty and ethereal. A little sharp, pear drops and toffee.
Taste: Very soft, fruit, pear, then malt. Sour pear and bitter oak.
Finish: Short length. The oak comes in.
Well, this isn’t complex but it’s much better than I remember from a few years ago.

Glenfiddich 15 Solera 40%
Colour: Gold
Body: Light
Nose: Spicier and richer but still ethereal. Ginger, oak and malt. Cheap perfume.
Taste: Soft, thin, oak, spice with ginger and white pepper, a little harsh, then chocolate.
Finish: Medium length. Virgin oak comes in with bitter tannin and spice.
So apparently this is finished in virgin oak then married in that Solera vat. I remember this being a nice floral dram, but was disappointed to find that I preferred the 12 over this.

Glenfiddich 18 40%
Colour: Gold
Body: Light/Medium
Nose: Very nutty, malty, orange peel, sweeter raisin suggesting more Sherry casks.
Taste: Soft and thin again, pear, some orange peel, then spice and oak, very spicy actually, clove and ginger, a bit harsh again, malty.
Finish: Long length. Harsh oak and harsh tannin.
Again, thin but quite harsh. Seems like it could do with better casks and a higher strength. Again, I preferred the 12 to this.

Glenfiddich Project XX 47%
Colour: Dark Gold
Body: Light/Medium
Nose: Oh dear, I was expecting so much from this. Ethereal and perfumed but cheap cologne and a little soapy.
Taste: Sweeter raisin, oak, cologne, some bitter oak then chocolate. Still remains thin at 47%.
Finish: Medium/Long length. Chocolatey which is nice but still a bit harsh.
Poor Glenfiddich, I think the distillery edition at 51% remains my favourite. I assume that they could make some great whisky, they just choose not to.

Thanks for reading!

Scotch Reviews #379-#382
Whisky Network Reviews #425-#428

Network Average: 74.4
Best Score: 92
Worst Score: 44
0-49 Terrible
50-59 Bad
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
70-74 Good
75-79 Very Good
80-84 Excellent
85-89 Superb
90+ Magnificent

Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as a Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.

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