Reviews of affordable whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…
The Glenfiddich Story
The Glenfiddich Reserve Cask is part of a trio of bottlings known as the Cask Collection, a batch of single malts released exclusively for the travel retail market.
Founded in 1886 by William Grant, the Glenfiddich distillery was built on private land on the outskirts of Dufftown, Speyside. Grant’s success led to the expansion of his empire in 1892 with the building of a new distillery, Balvenie.
The first half of the 20th century brought no end of problems for the whisky industry, with the famous ‘Pattison Crash‘ causing the collapse of many a small business and wartime restrictions bringing distilling to a halt across the board. The arrival of prohibition in the USA would then deny distillers their most lucrative export market but where many slowed their production, the wily Grants carried on regardless, filling their warehouses to the brim with vast stocks of maturing spirit.
By the time prohibition was repealed in 1933, the Grants of Glenfiddich had put themselves in a position to capitalise on the renewed Atlantic trade. With supplies of aged whisky that few could match, they lost no time in placing the company at the forefront of the whisky industry, a position further cemented with the introduction of a premium-branded Glenfiddich single malt in the 1960s, backed by an extensive advertising campaign and followed up with the construction of a visitor centre, creating and encouraging whisky tourism for the very first time.
Like the widely available 15-year-old, the Glenfiddich Reserve Cask features a portion of malt matured in sherry casks and married in a specially contructed pine vat, inspired by the Spanish solera technique of maturation.
Bottled at 40%, it is available at travel retail only, for around £60.
Smell: There’s a defo sherry influence, backed up with some cinnamon and oranges, apples and pears. There’s also a wee bit of vanilla. It feels like a younger, spicier version of the 15-year-old.
Taste: It has a surprisingly good texture on the palate with spicy oak, sherry, cinnamon, clove, chocolate orange and subtle lemon juice.
Thoughts: I generally find the travel retail market to be way overpriced and £60 strikes me as a wee bit expensive here. It’s a pleasant enough dram though and does come in a one litre bottle, so you get more for your money. Glenfiddich may not be the most exciting single malt brand but it is consistent. As far as travel retail expressions go, the Reserve Cask is a decent offering, though I feel I’d maybe rather buy a bottle of the 15-year-old at £40 or even stretch to the 18-year-old at £70, with each offering just a little more complexity and value for money in my opinion. If you really must buy at the airport though, you could do a whole lot worse than this.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.