Glenfiddich 15 Year Old ‘Solera Vat’


This week I’m looking at another single malt scotch whisky, but this time, I’m looking towards Speyside and getting to grips with a true whisky giant…

The story of Glenfiddich begins with William Grant, a local man with a dream of owning his own distillery. This dream became reality when, aided by his nine children and a single stone mason, he built Glenfiddich and watched as the spirit first ran from the stills on Christmas day of 1887. The distillery, and the whisky it produces, remains under the ownership of Wm. Grant & Sons today.

Glenfiddich has played no small part in shaping the modern whisky industry. The 1960’s and 70’s saw the distillery set off in bold new directions, many of which we now accept as normal practice. Back in those days the blend was king and no-one would have dreamed of marketing a single malt brand but that’s exactly what Glenfiddich did, advertising as a premium product and packaging their unique bottle design in gift tubes. They even built a visitor centre at the distillery, one of the first to do so.

I’m reviewing the Glenfiddich 15 year old, which is dubbed ‘The Solera Vat’. This is in reference to a unique quirk of the production process for this particular dram. The whisky is produced as normal and then matured for a full 15 years in a mixture of oak casks… some virgin oak, some ex-bourbon and some ex-sherry. When the barrels have reached 15 years they are emptied into a specially designed Vat constructed from Oregon pine where they are left to marry. When it is deemed ready, the Vat will be drained for bottling but crucially, will never be completely emptied. When the Vat is partially emptied, a fresh batch of casks will then be added and the process repeated. This system takes inspiration from the Sherry Bodega’s of Southern Spain and helps to achieve consistency of flavour from batch to batch.

On the nose I pick up strong Chocolate Orange notes, then some Vanilla, Honey and Winter Spice. On the palate meanwhile, there’s Orange again, Marzipan, Honey, a little Sherry and Cinnamon.

The ScoresAbout the scoring system

Smell: Nice complexity and depth.

Taste: Maybe would be nice to have a bit more weight about it but it has great flavour regardless.

Value for money: Generally sells for around £35 / £40. For a 15 year old with this much flavour that’s not bad at all.

Total: 41 / 50

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