Posts Tagged ‘Glenfiddich’

Beyond Solera Reserve: 3 new Glenfiddich solera vat whiskies

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Dave BroomDave Broom follows up his investigation of Glenfiddich’s solera vats from the current issue of Whisky Advocate.

Could it be that solera marrying* might be about to gain momentum? If the scenes earlier this year at Glenfiddich are an indication, then it could well be true. Three new solera vats, built by local coopers Joseph Brown of Dufftown, were installed at the distillery. The first two whiskies married in them were released last week, with a third planned for April next year.

Select Cask, Reserve Cask and Vintage Cask are all no age statement bottlings, and will be exclusive to Global Travel Retail, offering three different perspectives on the distillery’s personality; one of which will take many by surprise.

Glenfiddich_Brian KinsmanLR

Brian Kinsman, Wm. Grant & Sons master blender

“What happens inside a solera vat has been of interest to me for years,” Brian Kinsman, master blender at William Grant & Sons told Whisky Advocate. “It is a way to get consistency, but the way in which the process is also a way to create depth and complexity fascinates me. I’ve used the same principle as behind the 15 year old Solera Reserve to create these new brands, but in order to create three distinct flavor profiles.”

As with the original, the new solera vats will only ever be half-emptied and it is believed that it is this residual liquid which adds new elements to the final product.

The first two to be released are Select Cask, from a solera vat of 27,000 liters; a melding of American oak, sherry, and some red wine cask-matured Glenfiddich. Reserve Cask comes from a 13,000 liter solera vat and is composed of 100% Spanish oak refill and first fill butts.

Select Cask promotes Glenfiddich’s more light and fruity side with an overwhelming aroma of fresh William pear, florals, and raspberry. It will retail at £39 for a 1-liter bottle.

The Reserve Cask, not surprisingly given its wood makeup, goes deeper, showing dried fruits, candied peels, leather, spice, and sultana. A 1-liter bottle will be £49.

The last member of the triumvirate, Vintage Cask, also comes from a 13,000 liter vat and is a mixing of first and refill bourbon, and a little sherry butt, “for mouthfeel”.  The surprise is how peaty it is.

“This is going back to the style of Glenfiddich 100 years ago,” explains Kinsman, “when we had a touch of peat in the whisky. We’ve been making a small amount of peated whisky for over 12 years now and this element forms a small part of the overall vatting.” The peat shows itself as bonfire smoke on the nose with ferns, citrus, and a little malt, but this smokiness becomes more restrained on the palate, where it’s joined by with ripe fruits and pepper.”

It will be launched in April 2014 and retail for £79. Full tasting notes will appear in the next issue of Whisky Advocate.

* For more on the solera process, see the current issue of Whisky Advocate

My Informal Thoughts on New Whiskies (Part 2)

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Here’s the second half of my post that began on October 5th (with a WhiskyFest summary in between).

So, about the new Ardbeg Galileo. Interesting stuff, this. Here’s my take on it. Ardbeg, for most people is a “mood” whisky to begin with, meaning that you have to be in the right mood for it. (I know, there are some of you out there who could drink Ardbeg all day long, including with your sausages at breakfast.) The fact that Galileo contains some Ardbeg matured in Marsala wine casks makes it even that much more of a mood whisky. So much to the point where I am currently struggling to find a mood where I would prefer Galileo to even another Ardbeg. Let’s face it. There have been so many great Ardbeg releases that the bar is set pretty high. Maybe too high for Galileo. And I am just not sure if the wine flavors play well with the other more traditional Ardbeg notes. This is a “try before you buy” whisky.

And while I’m still scratching my head a little, I might as well bring up Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye. Okay, I know that many of the craft distillers have come out with essentially unaged whiskeys, and yes, some of the big boys have released some “white” whiskeys too. I also appreciate that many talented mixologists have created some interesting cocktails with unaged whiskeys. Personally, I would prefer to wait another several years or so after this whiskey has aged and mellowed out a little.

Speaking of aged Tennessee whiskeys, there’s going to be a new George Dickel Rye ($25). All the whiskey in this new bottling is at least 5 years old, and for this reason alone I am enjoying it more than Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye. It’s made from 95% rye, like many other rye whiskeys on the market, including the another Diageo-owned bourbon label, Bulleit Rye. (Some Whisky Advocate readers out there might have a pretty good idea where these 95% rye whiskeys are sourced, because we’ve written about it recently.)

I thought it quite a coincidence that Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye was introduced just days before George Dickel announced their new rye. A wry rye, perhaps? :)

On to another product which, at this time, is more of a curiosity now but, like Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye, could blossom into a very nice whisky. I have a sample of the new Glen Moray Peated Spirit (Batch #1). It a 200 ml sample, hand-bottled, from a single cask at barrel proof (60.6%). It’s not old enough (3 years minimum) to be called whisky, but it shows a lot of promise. Time will tell.

Two new whiskies I like very much, and we don’t have to wait another 5 years to drink them are from Compass Box. They are the Great King Street New York Blend and the most recent version of Flaming Heart. The NY Blend of Great King street is bolder than the original GKS: it’s maltier and smokier. John Glaser did a great job matching the personality of the whisky with the great city of New York. And the Flaming Heart kicks ass, as always. Well done John.

Finally, I’d like to make a quick mention of another new whisky I am enjoying. It’s the Glenfiddich Maltmaster’s Edition. It’s matured in bourbon casks and then finished in sherry casks. Compared to, say, the standard 12 year old bottling, this one is richer, fruitier and spicier. This whisky is for those of you out there who keep telling me that Glenfiddich 12 year old is just not interesting enough for you. ($80)



Glenfiddich 125th Anniversary Celebration and Auction

Friday, March 16th, 2012

I couldn’t make it to this event, but I heard it was a great time and all for a good cause. It’s nice to see the whisky companies using these rare old whiskies for charitable endeavors. If we can’t afford to taste the whisky, at least we know it’s being put to good use. 

Last evening a gala was held on Liberty Island, New York to celebrate 125 years of Glenfiddich. Actor Adrian Grenier hosted the charitable event along with Glenfiddich’s malt master, Brian Kinsman. An auction was held to benefit SHFT Initiatives which promotes sustainability issues through the intersection of commerce, art and design, and communication. Sold at the auction was a bottle of the 55 year old Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve, one of only eleven bottles available in the world. The hammer price was a record breaking $94,000. This now stands as the most expensive bottle of single malt scotch whisky sold at auction, according to the press release.

This commemorative bottling was created to honor the 110th birthday of Janet Sheed Roberts, the granddaughter of William Grant, Glenfiddich’s founder.

Left to right: Actor Adrian Grenier, Christie’s vice president Rachel Orkin-Ramney, and Mahesh Patel following Patel’s purchase of Glenfiddich’s Janet Sheed Reserve for $94,000.

Review: Glenfiddich, Snow Phoenix

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Glenfiddich, Snow Phoenix, 47.6%, $90

Second of this pair of limited editions from Glenfiddich. This was named after a number of the distillery’s warehouse roofs collapsed under the weight of snow in 2010. This was a bottling of a selection of casks — ex-sherry, ex-bourbon, refill — from one of those damaged warehouses. It is gentle and sweet — cooked pear, fruit crumble topped with rolled oats, golden syrup, and on the palate hints of raisin. A lemon finish adds a freshness to a dangerously drinkable dram. –Dave Broom

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 83

The leading single malt scotch brands in the U.S. (I think #5 might surprise you!)

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Here they are, according to IMPACT DATABANK

US – Leading Single Malt Scotch Whisky Brands
(thousands of nine-liter case depletions)
  Percent Change
Rank Brand Importer 2008 2009 2010 2008-2009 2009-2010
1 The Glenlivet Pernod Ricard USA 285 286 309 0.4% 8.0%
2 The Macallan Rémy Cointreau USA 125 125 134 0.0% 7.2%
3 Glenfiddich William Grant & Sons USA 102 100 107 -2.0% 7.0%
4 The Balvenie William Grant & Sons USA 47 50 55 6.4% 10.0%
5 McClelland’s White Rock Distilleries 49 52 54 6.1% 3.8%
6 Glenmorangie Moët-Hennessy USA 37 43 52 16.2% 20.9%
  Total Top Six 645 656 711 1.7% 8.4%


McClellands? That certainly surprised me! Anything surprise you?

Bottle of 1937 Glenfiddich to be auctioned

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

The first of eleven bottles. It seems like a lot of distilleries have squirreled away some older whisky, which are now being released. This one’s not as old as Gordon & MacPhail’s 70 year old Mortlach, but it’s not too far behind.

The official listing on the Bonhams site is here, but there’s still no information (or images of the bottle) up there yet. Details below in the press release.


An exceptionally rare bottle of Glenfiddich distilled in 1937 is for sale at Bonhams Whisky sale in Edinburgh on 16 June. 

It is one of only 11 bottles of the 1937 produced by the distillery and is the first to appear at auction.  Having matured for 64 years it is also one of the oldest whiskies ever released onto the market.  It is estimated to make between £15,000 – 20,000 and is likely to be keenly sought after. 

Bonhams Whisky consultant, Martin Green, commented, “It isn’t very often that such a rare bottle comes along and it’s a privilege to be handling it.  As soon as I recognised the significance of the bottle I got in touch with the distillery to let them know that we were including it in the auction.” 

Libby Lafferty speaking for Glenfiddich said, “We were very excited when we heard that the 1937 was going into the sale and immediately invited Martin Green from Bonhams to bring the bottle back to its home distillery to photograph for our archives.  It really is that special.” 


For further sale information please go to 

For further press information please contact Andrew Currie on 0207 468 5871  or or

New: Glenfiddich “Rich Oak” single malt scotch

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

This was posted up on Luxist yesterday. Have any of you tasted it yet?

“Glenfiddich has released a new expression, Glenfiddich Rich Oak 14-Year Old. Priced at around $50, the whiskey has been aged in second fill Bourbon barrels for more than 13 years, and finished in new American and Spanish oak.

The effect, as one would expect, is higher vanilla notes than is found normally in Glenfiddich, the number-one single-malt Scotch whiskey in the world. The notes of dried fruit and walnuts shine through as is the case with any Glenfiddich pour.”

Guest blog #5: Speyside Part 2 (Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, and Tullibardine)

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Highlights on this trip are hard to narrow down, but there is no doubt that Glenfarclas and Glenfiddich/Balvenie are among our all-time favorites. Much of this has to do with George Grant and Ian Millar. Both are great ambassadors for their distilleries and the industry. Both have been to Omaha to do tastings even though we are a very small market in the grand scheme of things.  Previously George and Glenfarclas have hosted us for lunch; this time it was dinner in the industry’s most beautiful tasting room. This is a must-see, right off the visitor’s center shop and includes salvaged remnants from the ship The Empress of Australia, including beautiful wood paneling and restored chandeliers.  The entire Family Cask Series is on display, dating from 1952 to 1994, the lucky few can sample the casks and pick your favorite. It’s tough to find a more consistently tasty whisky of these rare vintages.

Touring Glenfiddich (left) with Ian Millar is unlike any other experience. His passion and knowledge about Glenfiddich, Balvenie, the industry as a whole are unparalleled.  We got to sample expressions in the works including “Project Indiana” and even a bit of the rare Kininvie single malt. As always, a tour of the warehouse with Ian is as close to nirvana as you can get.  You walk in and stare at the huge Solera vats holding thousands of liters of 15 YO Glenfiddich. Climb the ladder and pull out a sample to taste, an incredible experience.  That’s when the fun begins: cask hunting!  Glenfiddich casks, Balvenie casks everywhere from the 50s, the 60s, the 70s, well, you get the idea. This warehouse is like a cask museum, you’ll see more rare and experimental types and shapes of casks than anywhere. Tasting from them is just heavenly, if a bit chilly.   We also had the chance to purchase some of the last Port-aged Balvenie Rose. With only 426 bottles ever made available, it’s almost gone. With the close proximity of the distilleries here and the quality of the tour and shop, this is a must-see.

Finally, we could not finish our description of the distilleries we visited without mentioning Tullibardine.  This gem is actually located in a shopping center, at first glance you would think it would be a disappointment but initial impressions are deceiving.  Just like Highland Park, Aberlour and others, you can pick the type of tour you would like from basic to Tullibardine’s “connoisseur level.”  Our guide and leader Gavin Cuningham (see left) makes sure you have a wonderful time.  The shop is lovely and actually includes Starbuck’s coffee!!  The distillery was on a deathwatch for a number of years until a group of investors purchased the distillery in 2003 and began producing spirit again.  It’s a very traditional distillery with the mash tun, wash backs and stills all in close proximity to each other.  Great for explaining the process to a group, as you can literally do a 360 turn and see everything!   The shop itself has large numbers of Tullibardine vintages for sale that are very hard to get in the states.  Finishes in Sauternes, Rum, and Sherry were all available as well as vintages dating back to 1964.  The distillery also offers casks for sale. This is one we would absolutely recommend. – B. J. Reed

Glenfiddich launches 50 year old

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I actually received a pre-release sample back in August and reviewed it here. The official launch begins today in the U.S., along with an auction where you can bid on one of the bottles later this week. Details are below in the press release.

Now you know what to ask Santa to put under your tree. Let’s hope he has a bigger line of credit than I do.

Glenfiddich Unveils its Masterpiece
Rare and precious 50 Year Old Single Malt Makes Long-Anticipated American Debut

NEW YORK, December 1, 2009 – Glenfiddich, the world’s most awarded Single Malt Scotch Whisky, today announced the U.S. launch of its much-heralded Glenfiddich 50 Year Old expression.  One of the rarest and most precious expressions of authentic Single Malt Whisky ever released by Scotland’s most distinguished distillery, Glenfiddich 50 Year Old will be available in extremely limited supply, with only a handful of bottles available in the U.S.

4303_hi_glenfiddich_50yo_bottle_and_box (2)Beginning in December, Glenfiddich 50 Year Old will be available exclusively at three U.S. hotels, with one additional bottle scheduled to be sold at a charity auction on December 7, making this one of the most sought-after expressions of Glenfiddich ever released.

For half a century, two casks of whisky have aged gently in Glenfiddich’s Warehouse 8, under the watchful eye of the industry’s longest-serving and most experienced Malt Master, David Stewart.  As a consequence of this care and attention, Glenfiddich 50 Year Old is imbued with a unique preciousness that only time can bring, and remains remarkably light and elegant on the palate. The nose is beautifully harmonious with an uplifting, vibrant and complex aroma. The taste is initially sweet with a zesty orange marmalade and vanilla toffee, which then cascades through a wonderful series of layers: aromatic herbs, floral and soft fruits, silky oak tannin and hints of gentle smoke. The finish is exceptionally long with a touch of dry oak and the merest trace of peat.

“Time and tradition, and a small, significant measure of the unknown have contributed to making every drop of this beautifully-matured fifty year old whisky, some of the most precious Glenfiddich has to offer,” said David Stewart.   “It is some of our finest whisky, nurtured over many years by generations of dedicated and distinguished long-serving craftsmen using techniques lost to most other distilleries. Only an independent, family-owned distillery can remain true to its founding principles and continually pioneer in its pursuit of excellence.”

In addition to this, the packaging, rich with authenticity and heritage, also reflects the excellence of the whisky: Design cues have been painstakingly taken from archives that record the distillery’s 120 year history; the hand-blown bottles are individually numbered and presented in beautifully hand-stitched, leather-bound cases, which were inspired by William Grant’s personal ledgers.

“As the world’s most awarded Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Glenfiddich has a long tradition of innovation and setting the benchmark for quality” said Caspar MacRae, Category Director – Scotches, William Grant & Sons USA.  “The introduction of Glenfiddich 50 is a testament to the quality and pioneering spirit that has gone into the production of Glenfiddich for more than 120 years.”

American buyers will have the opportunity to bid for the sole bottle available for home purchase in the U.S. at a charity auction event, held simultaneously at New York’s Mandarin Oriental hotel, Miami’s Fontainebleau hotel and the Peninsula hotel in Los Angeles on December 7.  These hotels will also be the only places where the whisky will be available by the glass, until the next batch is released in 2010. 

Proceeds of the auction, which will be conducted by Christie’s Head of North American Wine Sales Charles Curtis MW, will go to Friends of Scotland, the charity founded by Sir Sean Connery, dedicated to advancing contemporary Scottish causes in the United States via educational scholarships, and to benefit veterans of foreign wars. In addition, Sir Sean has agreed to provide the winning bidder with a personal letter. Interested bidders should contact 646-356-8350 for the opportunity to take part in the auction.

Six incredibly rare whiskies (one bottle produced of each) for WhiskyFest San Francisco

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Six different whiskymakers from six different distilleries have agreed to make a unique bottle of whisky (bottle #1 of 1) just for WhiskyFest San Francisco, which takes place on October 16th. Attendees will be able to taste a 1/2 ounce pour for a requested $20 donation to charity (Meals on Wheels).

Here are the six whiskies, along with a description of each, as provided by the whiskymaker.

Isle of Jura- Willie Tait: “I put a hogs head of Jura down on the 23rd Nov 1989, on my daughter’s 13th birthday. This was my legacy for my children, as they have already taken all my money.”

Bruichladdich- Jim McEwan: “The title of my whisky will be “Working on a Dream” it will be a vatting of 46 years of Bruichladdich as that is the time I have been in the business. A single malt made by humble men on the west coast of Islay whereby you can feel and taste their personality, honesty and passion in every sip you take.”

The Dalmore- Richard Paterson: As Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface for the very first time at 02.56 GMT on 21st July 1969, the new spirit of Dalmore down on Earth on this very same day was being transported onto the circular surface of American White Oak to begin its epic journey too.

The Balvenie- David Stewart: David now has an intimate knowledge of where his personal favorites are within the Balvenie warehouses, many of which he has been carefully nurturing for several years. David’s unique bottling will be a single cask sampling drawn directly from one of this highly personal selections.

Glenfiddich- Brian Kinsman: Cask samples are retained long after the cask has long been bottled and savored. They form a historical archive of Glenfiddich’s greatest and best. Brian will be selecting from these precious remnants to craft a unique and unrepeatable one-bottle “vatting” of Glenfiddich.

Buffalo Trace- Our charity Buffalo Trace bottle contains the very first sample ever drawn from our “Millennium Barrel.” This barrel was filled on December 31, 1999, that’s why we call it our “Millennium Barrel.” It was the very last barrel that we filled on the last day of the last century.

This is about as rare as whisky gets. And you can be sure they are going to taste great. Come to WhiskyFest San Francisco, try one of these rare treats, and help support a good cause.