Back to basics with Glenfiddich

Sometimes you have to recalibrate your palate. All these bloggers tasting all kinds of exclusive whiskies, you can lose track of what the current standard is. We call stuff ‘good’, but what do we compare things to?

Some tasters do this by always starting with a benchmark whisky, just to know where you’re coming from, but I’m not a professional like that. I just try to occasionally sit down with a sample of stuff I liked when I started this whole journey of organoleptic discovery.

And a few weeks ago, when Whisky Center sent me their first sample pack containing their own Craigellachie and ‘Burnside‘, the other samples were the ‘standard’ range of Glenfiddich from the well known 12 year old to the rum cask finished 21 year old.

While these are not the most ‘wow-factor’ whiskies, I was quite thrilled to retry them after some years of not even considering them for a sit-down. Here it goes!


Glenfiddich 12, ‘Our Original Twelve’, 40%

Sniff:
A tad thin at first, but where are hints of apple, pear and bread-and-butter-pudding. Quite some sweet and gentle pastry notes.

Sip:
The palate is a bit more dry than the nose, but it remains very apple-y and pear-like. A candy like sweetness runs through, but with hints of French bread with butter.

Swallow:
The finish is not very long, but it gets notes of iron, so a tad metallic.

It’s not going to blow your socks off any time soon, but with a whisky like this at about € 30 it’s not surprising at all that the brand is so big and so popular around the world. A very solid entry level dram that sits in the middle of the road. Very un-offensive, so to say.

82/100


Glenfiddich 15, ‘Our Solera Fifteen’, 40%

Sniff:
The base of aromas is very similar to the 12 year old, but it’s just a bit more rich and a bit more sweet. More baking spices and some peaches on top of the apples and pears.

Sip:
The palate is as sweet as the nose, but it does have some hints of white and black pepper.

Swallow:
The dryer notes continue, as do the sweet notes. Some pound cake, peaches, pear and apple. Also, there are some more clear notes of barley.

This is definitely a step up from the 12, both in price and in character. Still very true to Glenfiddich, but the use of sherry casks adds a bit more excitement and complexity.

84/100


Glenfiddich 18, ‘Our Small Batch Eighteen’, 40%

Sniff:
With another three years of aging, the maturity of the whisky increases significantly. There’s a lot more oak influence, and it had hints of dried apple.

Sip:
The palate is a bit lighter, and still thin (46% would work miracles, I guess). The increased time in oak shows itself by adding flavors of mulch and forest floor, quite autumnal.

Swallow:
On the finish there’s a bit more dryness than before, and a hint of light spices. Apple and pear too.

This is a huge step up from the 15 and a very enjoyable dram. My only issue with it is that it’s still bottled at 40%. I understand it from their perspective, with their clientele and target audience, but I would love to try this at a higher ABV. Still, a very solid dram!

86/100


Glenfiddich 21, ‘Gran Reserva – Rum Cask Finish’, 40%

Sniff:
The oldest of my samples is, again, a bit lighter than the one that came before. Also, a bit more thin than the 18. Somehow it seems a bit off balance between spirit and cask, but that might be the rum finish. It’s gone a bit dull.

Sip:
The palate is rather sweet with lots of fruit. However, it’s more like the fruitiness of wine gums, a tad chemical and artificial. With some time in the glass, there’s more dryness.

Swallow:
The finish is a bit of a let-down. It shows hints of grain, oak and fruit, but it’s all a bit generic.

This one doesn’t really work for me. It’s like it’s a sweetened, but muted version of the 18, with hints of artifical sweetness, and not much that warrents the 250% increase in price at all.

84/100


Even though the line-up was a little anti-climactic, I do like to recalibrate my palate like this. It was a fun evening with some quality drams, and especially the first three have a really good value-for-money rating.

Thanks to DJK from Whisky Center for sending the samples!

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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