This malt is a tasty and interesting change of pace from typical sherried or peated single malts.
The nose is a tad light and the finish shorter and warmer than one would expect.
Glenfiddich is one of the most iconic single malt scotch brands of all time. In fact, William Grant’s innovation with Glenfiddich in the 1960s and 70s is largely responsible for the shift of scotch popularity from blended scotch to single malts. You can find a bottle of Glenfiddich in pretty much every country in the world that allows alcohol sales, and in every liquor selling store from gas stations to boutique shops. Glenfiddich truly is a behemoth – both by brand and distillery size – in the industry.
Perhaps because of this, Glenfiddich is often looked down on by the whisky enthusiast community. This is not a singular phenomena. It’s always been popular to root for the David’s and shun the Goliath’s, even when the Goliath’s can make some damn fine whiskies. Of course, there are two sides to every coin. Most people associate Jack Daniels with “Old No.7”, Jim Beam with the “White Label”, and Johnnie Walker with Red or Black. These are not good whiskies, plain and simple (okay, Black is really not that bad), and they tend to skew the perception of the brand or distillery as a whole among enthusiasts. Many of us tried Glenfiddich 12 Year very early on in our whisky journeys, and whether or not we liked it at the time, it is very likely that we quickly “moved beyond it” and started labeling it with words like “boring” and “bland”. Totally consumed with the peated powerhouse distillers of Islay, the sherry monster brands of Speyside, and the little eclectic distilleries of the remote highlands that we get our non-mainstream, uber-enthusiast status confirmed through our knowledge and appreciation of, we leave Glenfiddich far behind and never look back.
This is a big mistake. Like I said, there are two sides to every coin. The biggest, richest distilleries often have the greatest capacity to make exceptional whisky, when they actually want to. Think about it – these guys have a near-inexhaustible amount of resources at their disposal.
This holds true for Glenfiddich, which isn’t your average mega-distillery owned by corporate multinationals and seen as little more than part of a portfolio. Glenfiddich was built in 1887 in Dufftown by William Grant and his nine children in a glen near the River Fiddich. The distillery adopted the name of the glen (Gaelic for “valley”), which means “Valley of the deer”. Since that day, Glenfiddich has remained independently owned by the Grant family and has kept as much of its operation onsite and within family control as possible. Glenfiddich employs its own coppersmiths to maintain its 32 (!!) copper pot stills, and has its own onsite cooperage and coopers to craft and care for its casks. Note that William Grant also owns the Balvenie and Kininvie distilleries in Dufftown, and the trio share these resources.
Among a slew of age stated and non-age stated whiskies that Glenfiddich releases is the relatively new 14 year “bourbon barrel reserve” bottling. Released continuously, but exclusively for retail in the United States, the 14 year spends most of its life in ex-bourbon casks before being “finished” in new, heavily charred American oak barrels (the type of cask used to mature American bourbon). This release is widely available in states for around the reasonable price of $50-60.
- Distilled, aged, and bottled onsite by Glenfiddich in Dufftown, Scotland
- Aged 14 years in ex-bourbon casks and finished in virgin American oak barrels
- Bottled at 43% ABV
- Chill filtered and likely colored
Nose: A pleasant trio of red apple, raisins, and vanilla play the star roles on the nose. Beyond these are glimpses of milk chocolate and a touch of ethanol. The aroma as a whole is light and somewhat muted, but what’s there is very nice.
Palate: The entry follows suit of the aroma with red apples and vanilla at the forefront. Milk chocolate shows up on the development along with a touch of smoke. Sweet and light, with a rich mouth feel.
Finish: Medium length with quite a bit of alcohol warmth, which is a surprise given the low ABV and mellowness of the palate. Cinnamon and cloves linger large here, with apples, chocolate, and a touch of smokiness.
Buying Recommendation: Must Try! This malt was a surprise to me. I’ve not been a big fan of other Glenfiddich’s I’ve had, which seem to offer me little more than an introductory experience. While this 14 year is not setting the world on fire with complexity or character, it is a quality whisky that offers something different than its more mainstream brethren. That short dip in new American oak has done just enough to set this whisky apart and make it a fantastic change of pace whisky to have in your cabinet.