Glenfiddich IPA Cask Finish (Experimental Series)



Experimental Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich is one of a handful of Scottish distilleries that remains under the ownership of the family that established it. William Grant‘s distillery is arguably the most famous name in Single Malt Scotch with one of the most recognisable bottles in the world.

Consistency and dependability is the name of the game for this brand. It needs to look the same, smell the same and taste the same, no matter which batch you have, or where in the world you have it. That familiarity and predictability can lead to some criticism among the “connoisseurs” (also read, snobs) but the fact is, the Scotch whisky industry needs its flagship brands to please palates all over the world.

Recent times have seen a slight change in direction, however. The core expressions, known and loved by mainstream drinkers are still there, doing what they do, but there’s been some creativity as well. Particularly in the form of the Experimental Series which has thus far introduced us to drams like the IPA Cask Finish, the XX, Winter Storm and Fire & Cane.

The Whisky

The IPA Cask was the first in the series and saw Malt Master, Brian Kinsman, work with Seb Jones of Speyside Craft Brewery. Casks that previously held IPA were used to finish Glenfiddich’s spirit. The result was a new single malt, bottled at 43% abv.

Smell: It took a little while for the beery influence to come through. To begin with, I picked up notes of malt and honey, with apples, pears and orange. It made me think of toast and marmalade. Then the IPA made its entrance. Reminiscent of baking bread and the yeasty brew aromas of distillery washbacks. There’s also some subtle oaky spice in there too.

Taste: A definite hoppy bitterness to it, which mingles well with the character of the oak to give a bit more backbone than you perhaps expect from a Glenfiddich. Highland toffee and vanilla fudge. Cinnamon. Ginger. Baked apples. Touch of citrus. Dry, woody spice on the finish.

Thoughts: As you’d expect with a brand like Glenfiddich, there are some elements that feel immediately familiar but the IPA casks have definitely brought something new to the table. There’s more meat on the bones and more spice. I would have loved to see this nudged up to 46% – if you’re going to go all out on experimental flavour then best to present the dram in as natural a way as possible surely? That said, it feels more intensely flavoured than you might expect so perhaps it didn’t need the extra strength and it’s a natural-looking colour too. Of course, the ultimate assessment will always come down to how much I personally enjoyed it and it certainly ticked a few boxes for me. Not the most complex or intricate flavour profile but altogether fairly enjoyable. Maybe not a buy on sight bottle but a dram I’d be pleased to reacquaint myself with from time to time.

Price: £45. It’s priced reasonably enough though obviously faces a lot of competition at that level. Most likely to please fans of the brand looking for an alternative take.

Official ad for the release

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