Friday, April 2, 2010


Probably the first single malt whisky I ever got to try. There was a time not oh so many years ago when Glenfiddich and Glenlivet were the only single malts one could find in local bars if any at all. Gradually scores of other brands eventually joined these two pioneers on our local bar and liquor store shelves and life became oh so much better than it was before. For this article I was to stay with Glenfiddich which means “glen of the deer” which is kind of a nice thing and there is a picture of a deer on the bottles. I had the great joy to visit the Glenfiddich distillery in 1999 and it was a great experience. Admission at that time was free and the place was super clean with duck ponds and freshly painted buildings along with a beautiful tasting room that greeted us at the end of the trip. You see I was with my wife and her 83 year old father on that trip as we motored though Speyside in Scotland where lots of wonderful distilleries are located and neither my wife nor my now late father-in-law are devotees of scotch so everywhere we went I not only got to enjoy my taste of whisky but I got to enjoy theirs as well. That was a most wonderful trip! Everything about the Glenfiddich distillery was first class from the tour guide who knew his whisky well to the great gift shop. Now I have to be honest, once you have seen a few distilleries and all the washes and rises and wonderful copper stills that look like gigantic Hershey’s Kisses they start to kind of look the same. Well this one will claim the tallest stills in the world and that one the biggest around stills in the world, or the most northern stills in the world or the oldest, or newest, or something special about each and every one. You will find though that the processes used to make whisky are to at least some degree quite similar from one distillery to another. So while a tour of dozens of distilleries on the same trip might be great fun for me and some of you, your spouse or non-whisky drinking friends may get a bit bored after the first two or three so have an alternate plan. Dump them off for a day of castle touring or horseback riding or shopping in Inverness and looking at all the cool thrift shops and you and perhaps a designated driver go have at the whisky tours. Or just take a guided bus tour and that way you don’t have to worry about the driving. One thing that does make Glenfiddich a bit different is that it is the only scotch that is bottled on the site of the distilling process using the same water from the burn (creek) as was used to make the whisky in the first place. Now Balvenie scotch is distilled right next door to the Glenfiddich distillery so they are also bottled at the Glenfiddich distillery but technically not at their own distillery.
There will be another article on Balvenie later stand by; I’m drinking as fast as I can…. Ah….I mean writing as fast as I can. Ok both. Any brand has its fans and its detractors and I’m sure Glenfiddich is no different. It is my opinion that the 12, 15, and 18 (the only ones I have had the privilege of enjoying so far) are quite good and perhaps are the standard against which other whiskies are measured. Personally I usually enjoy older whisky more than younger simply because I like a really smooth whisky that has real robust taste and smoothness is often the product of years in the cask. The 15 year is quite good marrying 15-year-old Glenfiddich from American bourbon, sherry, and new oak casks in a large Solera vat made of pine from Oregon. That vat is always at least ½ full ensuring the excellent quality that Glenfiddich has been know for throughout the world. The whisky folks who claim to taste or smell such things talk about vanilla, fruit and spices, I might be convinced about the spices but I do taste the nice sherry undertone and good solid oaky flavor. You will have to make your own mind up about things like vanilla and fruit and chocolate and shoe polish that “experts” taste in whisky as I have yet to experience that. Perhaps my nose is defective or perhaps I just enjoy the taste of whisky without even thinking about what spices or fruits or candy it reminds me of because it doesn’t. The local folks around the Glenfiddich distillery will tell you that the correct pronunciation is Glen-fid-ahkkkkkkk which is not the correct phonetic spelling but basically one says Glen and then fid and then makes that sound one makes in the back of one’s throat right before hocking up something unpleasant. If you don’t spray a little when pronouncing it then you are doing it incorrectly so the lady at the cooperage down the road a little piece from the Glenfiddich distillery told me. It’s Gaelic after all and I hear that most classes in Gaelic are conducted with the folks in the front two rows wearing yellow rain slickers like tuna fishermen do to avoid being soaked during the lectures on correct pronunciation. By the way the cooperage is a great tour as well showing you how they make the oak barrels for the distilleries in the area and they have a great snack shop out back. Glenfiddich also sports some older versions including 21, 30 and 50 year and you can imagine the prices go up accordingly and I can only imagine how wonderful they are to actually sample and providence willing someday I will get the chance to try them as well. My thought is that Glenfiddich is probably the very best starter scotch for those wanting to begin the exciting journey on the single malt trail. Start with the 12, then the 15 and if you can swing it, the 18, and from there the only your wallet will determine how much enjoyment you will have.
The ducks on the Glenfiddich duck pond seemed way too happy so I am afraid there may be a leak somewhere in the cask storage area that makes its way to the duck pond either that or the sneaky little beggars have learned how to tap a cask. At any rate they seem very happy to live there. I hope you enjoy Glenfiddich soon. Please let us know what you think about Glenfiddich and what your favorite is.
The Whisky Warrior.

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