Glenfiddich 50 year old, 46.1%

Price: $16,000 Issue: Winter 2009 Reviewer: John Hansell

We're drinking liquid history here. Antique gold color. Aromas of dried citrus, lemongrass, and ginger with background honeyed vanilla, dried herb, bouquet of roses, and a wisp of smoke. Very long and evolving on the palate, going from sweet to dry: vanilla custard, crème brulee, white chocolate, candied citrus, juicy oak, polished leather, dried tobacco, and then resinous oak, with teasing dry roasted nuts and hint of peat bog throughout. Long dry, resinous finish. Remarkably well-maintained for its age. I can tell that it's an old whisky, but it shows good complexity. It's not tired and excessively oaked.

When compared to the 30 year old and 40 year old expressions, it's actually more vibrant and youthful than the 40 sample I have. Yet it doesn't have the deft balance and roundness which I consider a hallmark of the 30. Bottom line here: Anyone who can afford this whisky and actually drinks it will not be disappointed. It's really nice. But for us regular folk, try to pick up a 30 year old Glenfiddich if you can find one and you won't go wrong with the whisky — or the price (relatively speaking, that is).