Glenfiddich Distillery was founded in 1886 in Dufftown by William Grant. Dufftown is in Speyside, a region famed as the home of more distilleries than any other. The area is also renowned for its somewhat inhospitable weather and one particularly harsh winter a few years ago led to an almost catastrophic situation at the distillery.
The weather was particularly severe in late 2009 and by January 2010 snow had been falling relentlessly for weeks, leaving Glenfiddich completely engulfed. More than a metre of snow had accumulated on the roofs of the distillery buildings and eventually, after yet another snowfall, disaster struck… On the night of 7th January the sheer weight of snow caused a number of warehouse roofs to collapse, jeopardising the precious whisky resting below. Hardy distillery workers were quick to answer the call and toiled through the night in temperatures of -19 trying to clear the snow and rescue the casks. Due to their hard work, the whisky was saved with minimal losses and soon, a limited edition ‘Snow Phoenix’ bottling was released to mark the occasion. It’s a fine example of the hard work and dedication it can take to get the dram into your glass.
Today Glenfiddich remains under the ownership of Wm Grant & Sons and is one of the most successful whisky brands in the world. The company also own Balvenie, Kininvie and Ailsa Bay malt distilleries as well as Girvan grain distillery and the Monkey Shoulder blended malt brand.
On top of their own triumphs, Glenfiddich can actually be credited with much of the worldwide success of single malt in general. In the 1960’s Blended Scotch dominated the market but Wm Grant & Sons took the decision to bottle and market Glenfiddich single malt as a premium product. They sold it in gift tubes and ran expensive advertising campaigns. They even built a visitor centre at the distillery in order to attract tourists to come and see how it was made. If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because the people at Glenfiddich unwittingly created the blueprint for the modern whisky industry – in Scotland and across the whole world.
This pioneering spirit took Glenfiddich to the very summit, becoming the worlds best selling single malt scotch for many years – a title only recently lost to local rival Glenlivet.
The 12 year old Glenfiddich remains one of the most available and popular single malts on the market. It’s bottled at 40% and should cost you around £30.
The Scores: About the Scoring…
Smell: 17.5 / 20. The nose is Fresh and Floral with Apples and Pears, Malt and Honey and a touch of Citrus Fruits.
Taste: 16.5 / 20. Honey and Caramel on the palate with Apple, Pear and Lemon. Sometimes a dram can completely contradict the nose when tasted, not so with the Glenfiddich 12, it all comes together in one harmonious package.
Value for Money: 8 / 10. As a solid, dependable, every day dram it is a very safe buy.
Overall: 42 / 50. If you go into a bar, anywhere in the world, no matter how remote, and ask for a single malt scotch, it’s a safe bet you’ll be given a 12 year old Glenfiddich. There’s a reason for that: it is a wonderfully consistent single malt that appeals to spirit drinkers across the board and I have often recommended Glenfiddich to those looking for an entry point into the world of whisky. Partly, so as not to frighten them off with some of the bolder, brasher spirit we as a nation produce but also because it is a well made, well matured whisky with subtle, refined character that should inspire the drinker to take their interest further.