Last week I tried a set of three whiskies from Glenfiddich at an event in London to showcase some of their new releases. I had only tried the more general, run-of-the-mill varieties before so it was a great privilege to have the chance to sip some special ones, especially the 1974 Vatted Vintage Release, of which only 50 bottles will be available in the UK.
As always, these are only my views on them and I’m sure you will read differing opinions elsewhere, but here are my thoughts based on how all three whiskies tasted on the day I tried them:
Glenfiddich Gran Reserva, Rum Cask Finish, 21-year-old:
This bottling has recently been re-housed in a new bit of rather eye-catching packaging so is being released as the same whisky but with a style makeover.
The whisky is matured 21 years in American oak before finishing in Caribbean rum casks.
On the nose I got hints of vanilla, baked sugar (like the smell you get when you fire a crème brûlée top) and banana.
Despite these sweet scents, it was still fairly crisp on the tongue and not overly tacky, like you sometimes get with toffee flavours. It was very light and had little aftertaste.
Adding a bit of water brought out the fruitiness more, making it blossom.
This Glenfiddich celebrates the Portuguese explorers of the 15th century and comes in a stunningly designed box with intricate maps showing the explorers’ journeys.
Master Distiller Brian Kinsman told us they were trying to find a way to honour people that step out in life and take risks, akin to the explorers of the past, and it’s a good way of tying together the Madeira casks from Portugal with its history.
The nose had notes of mushrooms and mustiness but was softly sweet. It was light but had a thicker mouthfeel than the Rum Cask. On the palate, there was a slight spice hinting at nutmeg and lingering oils of bitter orange. I also got whispers of fresh grass.
I was not impressed when I added water, finding it really washed out the flavours and made it lose its “oomph”.
This is the first vatted vintage from Glenfiddich. It was chosen by a panel including Master Distiller, Brian Kinsman, UK Brand Ambassador, Jamie Milne and the Global Brand Ambassador, Ian Millar, along with 13 other brand ambassadors. They chose it out of three options, which also included the 1973 and 1975 vatted vintages.
The nose is thickly sweet, reminding me of the scent of good quality, pure vanilla essence when it is poured into baking mixture. I also got hints of lemon drops and most especially the raw mix of butter tarts – a type of Canadian tart, made with a filling of butter, sugar, egg and raisins.
On the palate, I got lemon butter, mint, pineapple and bananas flambéed with brandy. It was shockingly sprightly for a 30-year old whisky. The addition of water extracted notes of violet and created an extra lightness on the tongue.
All in all, it was my favourite whisky of the day. Complex, intriguing and ridiculously drinkable. I only wish there were more than 50 bottles being released to the UK!