Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s been a while since I’ve put something new up, but like the proverbial Phoenix of old, rising from its own ashes, I’m back. Emerging from an ever-mounting pile of newborn baby diapers, adorably soiled, tiny little onesies, and a sleep cycle that leaves a lot to be desired in terms of any sort of sleep cycle, I’ve let the wee one lie for a few extra minutes and tasted a bit of whisky. Having this new little roommate in the house definitely adds a bit of perspective. Over the last couple of weeks, I haven’t given a rat’s ass about whisky, I mean, c’mon, it’s a beverage, an extravagance, a luxury item…it’s doesn’t really compare to, say, the miracle of life. On the other hand, this little miracle of life has definitely moved me to hit the whisky cabinet on more than a few occasions.
So I thought it’d be appropriate to return to the fold with Glenfiddich’s Snow Phoenix. Released late in 2010, this special one-off bottling from a distillery that rarely does special one-off bottlings garnered a lot of buzz with it’s compelling back story. In January 2010, thanks to an especially snow-filled winter, some of Glenfiddich’s warehouse roofs reached their snow load-bearing limits and decided to collapse without considering the feelings of those sensitive spirit-filled casks within. These casks, some ex-bourbon, some ex-Oloroso, sat shivering in the snow, exposed to sub-zero temps while crews worked furiously to get all involved into a warmer setting. Malt Master Brian Kinsman decided to create a special edition commemorating the event, vatting a selection of whiskies ranging from 12 to 30 years old, bottling it non-chill filtered at a slightly higher proof, and giving it its myth-inspired name.
The Nose: Zippy, fruity nose, pears and grapes in syrup with nice raisin-y notes. Really succulent notes of honey…specifically, toasted buttered bread with honey. Cinnamon-y tannic notes probably represent the older whiskies in the bottle.
The Palate: Honeyed and fruity to start, with the Oloroso influence quietly coming through next to some hints of bittersweet chocolate. 47.6% doesn’t exactly scream high alcohol whisky, but this does begin to burn nicely on the palate. Grows really pretty spicy and numbing with the alcohol and wood building to a delicious, juicy, yet tannic fireball.
The Finish: Spicy and oaky with nice lingering acidity. Just the faintest wisp of wood smoke sneaks in towards the very end.
Thoughts: Well done, Glenfiddich. Snow Phoenix is a pretty evocative name and coupled with that back story, let’s just say my expectations were pretty high, and this stuff didn’t let me down. A great, inviting nose leads to a powerful, vibrant swell on the palate…a really expert vatting of a wide range of ages. At around $85, this is a pretty satisfying dram, all that fruit and spicey heat making it perfect for a Winter’s afternoon.