I mean, who turns down an invite to a whisky tasting where you are told up front that you will be sampling whiskies including Glenfiddich 30 Year Old, Glenfiddich 40 Year Old and Glenfiddich 50 Year Old? No, seriously, who?
Despite a mental schedule when the launch event took place, I made time to clear my Monday evening and come down to London for just two hours and forty-five minutes to enjoy the majesty of these whiskies, hosted by the inimitable Struan Grant Ralph, Global Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador and Brian Kinsman, Glenfiddich Malt Master, with such industry luminaries in the room as Kirsten Grant Meikle, Charlie Maclean, Mark Thomson, Becky Paskin, Mitch “I left Glenfiddich to set up my own company but I will keep turning up to the great events whether you like it or not” Bechard and a few select others.
This was one of the rare tasting events I have ever been to where the whisky tasting took place before the dinner element – which I will forever be grateful for as I had to leave at 9pm to get the last train, which was just when starters were being served. Thank fcuk.
After a wonderful ‘isn’t it great that we are all back together’ champagne soiree we headed into a lovely room for an intimate tasting for the twenty or so of us.
Glenfiddich Time Re:Imagined is all about rethinking the Prestige end of the Glenfiddich range which includes Glenfiddich 30 Year Old, Glenfiddich 40 Year Old and Glenfiddich 50 Year Old single malt releases.
Glenfiddich 30 Year Old, 46% ABV, £900
This was not a bad way to kick off a three-part whisky tasting… the nose was full of caramel sweetness, mixed with treacle, pears, sugar and a soft sherry note… the palate was full of whisky wisdom, a lovely balance of that treacle note with a softer complexion including feint wisps of smoke… so fruity, super easy drinking. The make up of this whisky is 30% Spanish sherry casks (both first fill and refill) and 70% American oak ex-Bourbon. Really nice and a solid permanent expression in the prestige range. The packaging uses aluminium for the secondary packaging with the design based around the inverted triangle so iconic to Glenfiddich, and Grant’s.
Glenfiddich 40 Year Old, natural cask strength of 44.6% ABV, £3,500
This one for me was all about that tropical note, then some sweet oak notes, an incredible nose full of lemon and lime zest as well as a tobacco and ripe banana notes. The palate was all about that big oak note with its soft orchard notes, more richness here, bigger, bolder… so good. This is the 18th (ish) release of the Glenfiddich 40 Year Old, and the first batch included 75 Year Old (some of which would have a low level peated note) which uses a technique called remnant vatting meaning a portion of each release is held back and used in the blend for subsequent releases.
Glenfiddich 50 Year Old, 46% ABV, £35,000
This, one of 220 bottles released for this year – all of which are in a spectacular aluminum piece of art created by Manuel Garcia who produced around 150 prototypes before the final version was chosen to be painstakingly created based on data gleaned from temperature, humidity and air pressure in Dufftown that set the design intent for the whole packaging concept.
Whilst it says it is 50 Year Old on the pack… it is comprised of three casks; two 1968 hoggies and one 1966 barrel.
The nose on this one blew me away, big oaky notes, super tropical, like walking through a dunnage warehouse breathing in all the goodness of all those casks sleeping, being nurtured to perfection… the palate, well, WOW, the citrus notes, the lively oaky notes and the incredibly balanced flavour profile so delicately put together to celebrate the half-century of wisdom within the casks that were originally matured in the old warehouse one which is no longer there and on stills that were direct coal fired when operational – truly old school, and truly remarkable.
Nowadays Glenfiddich sports 47 warehouses on site, and there are roughly 1,500 x 200 litre marrying tuns purely filled with Glenfiddich 12 Year Old ageing at any given time on site – it is VAST, and very different to the distillery this whisky was produced in all those decades ago.
One of the fun things we learned was that George, arguably Struan’s much stronger, and much more capable stunt double, would walk around the warehouse when he took samples for these whiskies playing music from the year of distillation for each cask – quite a quaint little touch.
What a night sampling 130 years of Glenfiddich with all its leafy, pear-laden notes and all the exceptional years of ageing that went in to this epic tasting – I do wonder what the lamb wellington tasted like though, as it sounded amazing.