by Delin Watmough
Hello all, looks like it is once again time for another of my monthly blogs. When I signed up to do these blogs, I had no idea the pandemic and all the restrictions would last as long as it has but at least now we are seeing a tiny light at the end of the tunnel (if the variants don’t get us locked down again). Several of the big highland games are coming back at the end of summer and while I haven’t heard the status of our festival yet, Edmonton, Calgary and Canmore have all announced they are holding their Games. I can’t wait, it has been a long winter without raising a glass or playing the pipes with all the excellent people of the FSC.
This month, I am going to do a little something I like to call “A Tale of 3 Glenfiddich’s”.
As most of you know, Glenfiddich is one of the largest distilleries in Scotland, located in Duffton in the Speyside region. They're also one of the most awarded distilleries in Scotland, getting their water from the Robbie Dhu spring. Owned by William Grant and sons and in operation since 1886, Glenfiddich means “valley of the deer“ in old Gaelic, which is why their iconic logo is a stag. Their signature whisky, Glenfiddich 12, is quite literally everywhere. In fact, if you order a scotch in a bar pretty much anywhere in Canada, chances are pretty good you will be served a Glenfiddich 12. However, I have been known to call Glenfiddich 12 the “Bud Light” of whisky’s- partly because it is everywhere and the other reason is because I find that it tastes thin and very one noted with virtually very little complexity. That being said, Glenfiddich makes many other very fine products and this month I am going to review 3 of them.
The first of this month’s selections is a whisky I bought at a Robbie Burns silent auction a few years ago and in my defense I had a lot to drink that night- so much so that when Steff and I got home, I smelled like whisky so bad she kicked me out to the couch. Anyways, a number of years ago Glenfiddich released a pure malt special edition in a collectable tin and that is this month’s first selection: Glenfiddich’s Pure Malt Special Reserve. Now, I suspect this was more or less a marketing ploy as reviews for this whisky are very few and far between, but the tin looks really nice on the shelf (picture of my tin below). The only review I found compared it to a Laphroig without the smoke, with no tasting or nosing notes whatsoever. I have seen a couple of these on some liquor store shelves in the bigger cities. However, no one in the area stocks them.
Our second offering is a Glenfiddich Rich Oak 14. After spending 14 years in American oak casks, this offering gets finished in hand picked virgin Spanish and American oak casks. I was given this bottle by a very good friend and have been excited to give it a go. According to the Glenfiddich website, this whisky noses with fresh fruit and spices and oak notes, tastes rich and sweet with a hint of fruit and a silky texture that deepens and richens with time and finishes with a bit of nuttiness that develops into a spicy oak. This whisky is readily available in most larger liquor stores.
The third whisky this month is Glenfiddich’s Fire and Cane, this whisky is Glenfiddich’s 4th expression of an experimental series and marries a peated whisky with a malt whisky matured in bourbon casks then is finished in rum casks. According to the Glenfiddich website, this whisky noses with soft peat and distant smoke with sweet toffee and tastes smoky sweet with a touch of oak, toffee and fresh fruit and finishes with a smoky sweetness. I purchased this bottle in Lethbridge at the Wine and Beyond store for around $80.00.
Side note - If you want to really get the attention of a clerk in a bigger liquor store, try wearing a kilt when you are shopping. I get way better and faster service whenever I go into these larger stores wearing one of my kilts. Don’t have a kilt? Then maybe it’s time to get one LOL.
Now it is time for tasting. I got my beautiful wife Stephanie to give me a hand and I tasted these whisky’s blind. To be completely honest, I have had the Fire and Cane before, but for the purposes of this taste test I wasn’t told which glass it was in. Also I took a drink of water and had a piece of cheese between each whisky in order to cleanse my pallet.
(I tasted these whisky’s before I looked up the tasting notes online and I took notes and used said notes to do my tasting impressions. Steff afterwards made me try to determine which was which and I was 3 for 3)
Blind Taste Test
The first whisky was a very light amber color with a very signature Glenfiddich nose of malt in fact this one was hard to pinpoint but was definitely a familiar smell. On the pallet I tasted heather and honey with a slight barley flavor. However, it was not very complex and was very thin tasting. The finish was very lackluster and left me wanting more.
The second whisky had a darker amber color. It nosed with a very pleasant and familiar (I wasn’t sure at the time but this was the Fire and Cane) smoky sweet smell that reminded me of cherry smoked ribs. On the pallet it was smoky, smooth, and silky with just a touch of sweetness. It finished very clean and smooth. To say I liked this would be a understatement.
Our third whisky was a nice amber color with very nice legs (again, I am not sure the importance of legs but I try to pay attention to them). On the nose, I could really smell the wood from the barrels as well as a touch of fruit. On the pallet, I could definitely taste the oak but it was very smooth and mild and finished with a really nice complexity. I really liked this whisky as it was one of those that would suit almost everyone in fact, I found it very drinkable.
Now to the results:
The first whisky was the Pure Malt Special Reserve,
The second was the Fire and Cane, and
The third was the Rich Oak 14.
While I enjoyed all three, the clear winners in my opinion were the Fire and Cane and the Rich Oak 14.
So that’s it for another month and hopefully we will be out playing our new Isolation tour come May.
May your days be long and your glasses full