Before being asked to write for this blog, I had never actually tried whisky, let alone knew anything about it. It was just another drink that other people enjoyed and I stayed away from.
However, having learnt more about it and inevitably drank more of it, I have found that it is actually quite enjoyable. I’ve come to see it not only as a drink but also as something with a history and a complexity to it.
People enjoy whisky not only because of the sophistication it reflects, but because it is something that you can feel an attachment to, in ways that you just can’t with simpler drinks.
For my first taste test and review, I choose a Speyside scotch, Glenfiddich 15 year old single malt. I choose this particular whisky as I liked how it looked and I thought because it was well aged the flavour would be stronger.
The bottle comes presented in a burgundy tube embossed with gold writing. I have to admit I am a sucker for something that looks good, and this definitely looks good. The deep burgundy coupled with the rich gold writing perfectly compliments the deep caramel of the whisky itself.
The Glenfiddich distillery coat of arms and the signed “William Grant and Sons” on the tube only serve to add to the air of quality and grandeur that this casing exudes.
The tube and the bottle also provide some interesting information about how this whisky is made. A short paragraph on both the bottle and the tube explains the use of a solera vat.
A solera vat works by fractional blending. The barrel that holds the whisky is always kept half full, and as the information provided on this bottle suggests, “This creates a rich and complex whisky which increases with depth and intensity each year”.
Providing this information opens the consumer up to the world of distilling and shows that there is a lot more to whisky production than meets the eye.
The Taste Test
Drinking being a social activity I decided not to pass up this opportunity to get some friends involved. Most of them too, were new to the whisky experience, and I got very mixed reviews about my bottle of Glenfiddich. Lets just say some were more enamoured than others!
One friend, who knows a bit more about appreciating whisky then me, was very insightful about the Glenfiddich, he said; “Glenfiddich 15 is my go-to choice of single malt scotch. It’s a significant step up from the 12 with a price that belies the treat it is to the nose and palate.
The 15 is much smoother than the 12 but is still possessed with a satisfying burn, leading me to prefer it even over the equivalent 18. To taste: the aforementioned gentle, drying burn. Initial sweet honey flavours, moving to vanilla. Spice aplenty, it being the stand out feature of this single malt on the palate – the sherry casks do their job perfectly. The finish is dry and peppery. All in all a great single malt.”
Being a first time whisky drinker, it helped to have someone who can detect a bit more out of it than myself! But here’s what I got from it. Personally, I tend to enjoy more peat flavoured whiskies with a bold smoky after taste from Islay rather than the sweetness of Speyside spirits. While there is a slight detection of smokiness in the after taste of Glenfiddich, this is not the over riding flavour.
There is more of a sherry like taste to this whisky, with a Christmas fruits tone that compliment each other perfectly. These flavours work well together and add richness to the drink. I also detected a slight appearance of vanilla and something like amaretto in the nose of this scotch, adding to its overall sweetness
This whisky definitely has a fuller body than some of the younger scotches I’ve tried. I find some peated whiskies can be overbearing where smokiness is concerned but the lack of a smokiness in the Glenfiddich meant that the other flavours where more detectable and not over powered.
However, in my final opinion, I think I would prefer a more peated whisky, as the taste of some like Talisker just seems to come alive. While the Glenfiddich was good in its richness and verity of flavours, it just does not live up to the standards held by its Islay counterparts.