I suppose because I see Glenfiddich everywhere, in every little corner store, suburban big-box supermarket, domestic flights, and bars that keep the premium spirits in a dusty, ignored display next to the register, I default to thinking they’re a big, corporate, profit-before-flavor scotch. It’s easy to fall into that line of thinking these days when advertising covers pretty much every square inch of our lives save the inside of our eyeglasses (coming soon, I’m sure). It’s also easy to forget that Glenfiddich is still owned by the family that began the distillery back in 1887. Granted, the William Grant family has grown into a small alcohol empire itself, owning the Grant’s blend, Tullamore Dew Irish, and Balvenie single malt brands among others, but a Scot family owned company is a rarity in today’s whisky world. With huge, sprawling conglomerates like Diageo and The UB Group dominating the corporate landscape it’s nice to see a company like William Grant & Sons responsible for the world’s best-selling single malt.
Indeed, Glenfiddich accounts for more than 30% of all single malt sales and is sold in over 170 countries, and while this may indicate certain compromise to capture the widest possible audience…hell, they must be doing something right. I haven’t had a Glenfiddich anything in years and figured I’d give the 18 year old a try to see how this ubiquitous brand holds up.
The Nose: dusty, sweet orange…even a bit of orange-infused dark chocolate, over-ripe apples, golden raisins, a hint of peat and a little eucalyptus. solid foundation of malt and oak perfectly balanced together.
The Palate: Smooth entry, really pleasant, almost airy mouth-feel. bourbon-y sweet, vanilla. the sherry influence shows itself as plump, almost juicy raisins…maybe grapes on their way to raisinhood (?!) but not quite there yet. Again, a nice balance of oak and barley leads into a really elegant mild peat smoke finale.
The Finish: Longish. Lots of wood and grain here, the oak and malted barley dance on the tongue with a little bit of smoke swirling about.
Thoughts: Who am I kidding? I think this is great stuff. I could be uppity and say this doesn’t hold a candle to the Brora 1910 independent bottling by the Bloomsbury Group or some such crap, but frankly, Clive Bell would probably call me on it and I’d have to admit to being just plain full of it. This is a well-built, well-balanced, straightforward and bold scotch with some surprising subtleties. No, it is not the most complex, unusual or rare thing out there, but it’s a great representation of the Speyside region and considering that you can find it for between $60 & $70, a damn good value, too.
Glenfiddich 18 Year Old, Speyside