I recently had another great evening at the Soho Whisky Rooms in London. This time I was there for a deconstruction of the Glenfiddich 15 year old Solera bottling – an opportunity to examine the cask components that make up this delicious whisky in the company on Jamie Milne (Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador). Upon arrival I was handed a glass of 12 year old and set about meeting new and old friends alike – special mentions to Ben and Cat (Master of Malt), Alwynne (Miss Whisky), Marcin, Ryan, Kirsty and Fleur. Jamie was excellent throughout; very knowledgable, humorous and dealt with the banter well!
First up was the distillery edition on the 15 year old:
Glenfiddich 15 Distillery Edition [51%]
A lovely start to the ‘formal’ part of the tasting. When I make it up to the distillery I will be picking up one of these.
Nose: Very rich and full of caramel, develops into toffee and syrup with a dashing of white pepper. The high alcohol sneaks in too
Palate: Quite lively, with more pepper and spices. Moorish
Finish: Long and spicy
Next on the menu was the 15 year old that had been transferred to virgin oak for 3-6 months; it was fascinating to see the influence this has on the spirit.
Glenfiddich 15 (3-6 months in US Virgin Oak) [57.1%]
I loved the sweetness and creaminess of this dram. The virgin oak has softened the spirit it this case (in that it has taken the edge off and highlighted the sweetness of the spirit). It was great to see how the cask influences the whisky.
Nose: Full of vanilla. Subtle and creamy with autumn front. It reminds me of the most vanillary Laphroaig I had on Islay – obviously not in a medicinal way, just in the way the fresh vanilla bursts through. I could smell this for hours.
Palate: Well rounded with some Indian spices mixed amongst the vanilla. Quite cakey too.
Finish: Medium in length, but full of flavour
One of the components of the solera vat – a sherried beast matured in fine Spanish Oak.
Glenfiddich 15 (Olarosso Sherry butt) [56%]
Possibly my favourite of the night. I love sherried whisky and this example was a delight It was sweet and sticky and you really couldn’t have wished for more (Jamie – if you’re reading… this would be ideal for Christmas!!)
Nose: Subtleties of burnt sugar combined with toffee and caramel. Fabulous
Palate: Sticky and clean with a sugary edge
Finish: Longest of the night
We were then handed the Solera vatting at cask strength with the extra few ABV’s giving it a real hit.
Glenfiddich Solera [58.3%]
It was really interesting to see how the components we had tried previously constructed this whisky – a great education in whisky and a fine dram at the end of it.
Nose: Vibrant and deep. This whisky reminded me of shortcrust pastry with a touch of liquorice. Lovely and rich as you delve into it
Palate: Full of warm and buttery toffee, catches the distillery profile beautifully
Finish: Medium in length, but very interesting to see how the component parts are captured in this one dram
It was then onto the classic to finish this part of the tasting, we were presented with the standard 15 year old, paired with the most divine chocolate.
Glenfiddich 15 [40%]
There’s no real notes for this whisky sadly. It’s one you have no doubt tried before, however the difference to it was that we tried it with Paul A Youngs Christmas Pudding Chocolate Brownie. Describing it as divine wouldn’t do it justice – you have to try this combination for yourself. The chocolate really enhanced the flavours and will really give you a new appreciation for how good this whisky is.
The next section of the tasting was with Jamie’s dad – a man who worked in the whisky industry all of his life and who enlightened us with with insight into the business. It was a very enjoyable 30 minute question and answer session, and we even had a new whisky to go with it!
Glenfiddich 125th Anniversary (Travel Retail) [43%]
This whisky is exclusive to travel retail and is unlikely to be ever released in the UK. Very different to the rest of the portfolio in that it is full of peat. It is outstanding; try to get hold of a bottle.
Nose: Unlike any Glenfiddich I have ever tasted. Full of peat smoke, barbecues and bonfires. Closer examination reveals charred orange peel. Lovely
Palate: The undying smoke starts slowly and rises to the fore of the palate. Quite bitter to begin with but this is counted by a little orange sharpness. It reminds me of Islay but without the peat reek. This spirit is well rounded and very drinkable.
Finish: I love the length of this and the peaty orange taste that remains
Finally, two new makes were past around the group; the standard that goes into most bottlings, and the peated one that made up the whisky we had just tasted!
Glenfiddich New Make Spirit [63.5%]
It was a great experience to try Glenfiddich’s new make spirit. It was initially handed around for nosing but it would have been rude not to have a taste!! On offer was the standard new make (think light and full of pears) and the heavily peated new make (produced for two weeks each year in December) which was a joy to drink and a great way to sign off the evenings drinking!
Overall this was a cracking evening and another more than worthwhile trip to London! It was the last tasting of the year and it was a privilege to do it in good company with good whisky. Roll on 2013 as I am sure there is lots more to come in terms of friendships and whisky… and remember this Christmas to sing that old classic.. ‘now bring us some ‘fiddich pudding, now bring us some ‘fiddich pudding!’
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!