Whisky Review #34: The Glenfiddich Gallery Experience

And so, continuing on from last week’s Glenfiddich Gallery experience post, I have decided to do a standalone review of the whiskies which were up for tasting on the night.

For the purpose of this review, I will not be including the core expressions and will instead be focusing on the cask samples that I savoured during the event.

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The array of bottlings that were up for tasting, ranging from the oldest (1974, 40 Years Old) to the youngest (1993, 21 Years Old).

The whiskies that were tasted are as follows:

  • Glenfiddich 1982 32 Years Old Virgin Oak Cask Sample
  • Glenfiddich 1984 30 Years Old Sherry Butt Cask Sample
  • Glenfiddich 1991 23 Years Old Refill Hogshead Cask Sample
  • Glenfiddich 1993 31 Years Old Bourbon Barrel Cask Sample

So without further delay, let’s go!

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Glenfiddich 1982 32 Years Old, drawn from a Virgin Oak cask.

Glenfiddich 1982 32 Years Old Virgin Oak Cask Sample (48.5% abv)

Background Information: Distilled in 1982 and matured for 28 years in an American Oak cask before undergoing a secondary maturation for a further 4 years in Virgin Oak casks.

Colour: Barley gold

Nose: Brilliantly fresh barley aroma, reminiscent of the malting floors at various distilleries! Barley sugar, cereals and flour on the nose, with just a hint of woodiness from the virgin oak cask.

With time, there’s a hint of vanilla and some cream, which makes this rather savoury. Very enticing nose and that fresh barley aroma is unforgettable. (22/25)

Palate: The clean and fresh barley aroma transfers onto the palate, bringing with it a rich cereal note and a nice dollop of barley sugar. The vanilla and cream notes from the nose also appear after some time, enhancing the overall sophistication of the mouthfeel.

The woodiness of the dram is more understated on the palate than on the nose and it prefers to linger in the background, surfacing on occasion to augment the primary flavours. (23/25)

Finish: The barley carries all the way through, giving this dram a rich and more-ish feel to it. Long and lingering finish, with the sweet, fresh barley and the woodiness intermingling well. There’s just a hint of the barley husks at the end, which makes for an interesting experience. (22/25)

Balance: Very well balanced and a reasonably complex dram, with a rich and sweet mouthfeel where the fresh barley is the definite star of the show. (22/25)

Rating: 89/100

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Glenfiddich 1984 30 Years Old, drawn from a Sherry Butt.

Glenfiddich 1984 30 Years Old Sherry Butt Cask Sample (55.9% abv)

Background Information: Distilled in 1982 and matured for 30 years in a first fill sherry butt.

Colour: Deep mahogany

Nose: Rich sherried notes coupled with raisins, nutmeg and a good amount of woodiness. There’s a sweetness to the nose which comes with a level of dryness which would be representative of the sherry that the cask once contained.

You can easily tell from the colour and the nose that this dram was drawn from a first fill sherry butt and the maturation in such an expressive cask just enhances the overall nosing experience. I could nose this one for hours! (24/25)

Palate: Rich, sweet sherry notes coupled with a sophisticated oakiness and elements of spice, especially nutmeg. There’s a definite smoothness to this dram and it simply elevates the mouthfeel to another level.

With time, the nutmeg and the oakiness both become more pronounced, but not to the detriment of the mouthfeel, which remains satisfyingly oily. The sweetness of the sherry coupled with the rich orchard fruits in the palate are a delight. (24/25)

Finish: Long, lingering and satisfyingly oily, with just a hint of dryness. The rich sherry notes intermingle very well with the nutmeg and the oakiness to create a wonderful finish which I will definitely not forget for quite a while to come. (24/25)

Balance: Very well balanced dram, with neither the spiciness, sweetness or oakiness overpowering the other elements. The sophisticated nature of this dram shows the quality of the distillery’s house style as well as the versatility of the spirit itself. Very keen to get a bottle of this! (24/25)

Rating: 96/100

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Glenfiddich 1991 23 Years Old, drawn from a Refill Hogshead.

Glenfiddich 1991 23 Years Old Refill Hogshead Cask Sample (55.9% abv)

Background Information: Distilled in 1991 and matured for 23 years in a refill hogshead.

Colour: Deep gold

Nose: Oaky, sweet and creamy in equal measure, with hints of cinnamon and just a hint of barley. Quite sophisticated for a cask strength sample and the alcohol seems rather subdued. (20/25)

Palate: Sweet notes of barley sugar coupled with the oakiness of the refill hogshead give this dram a delicate feel. There is a certain fruitiness, but it is somewhat understated. (20/25)

Finish: Relatively short finish with the barley sugar and oakiness carrying through. Quite light and with hints of fruit towards the very end. (20/25)

Balance: Relatively light and well balanced, but not overly complex and rather easy to drink. Not as expressive as its older siblings, but still a decent dram. (18/25)

Rating: 78/100

Glenfiddich 1993 21 Years Old Bourbon Barrel Cask Sample (52.5% abv)

Background Information: Distilled in 1983 and matured for 21 years in a bourbon barrel.

Colour: Bronze

Nose: Initial entry presents the characteristic vanilla and creamy notes from the bourbon cask this dram was matured in. With time, the oakiness of the cask makes an appearance along with a slight citrus note and some salted caramel. Very expressive. (22/25)

Palate: Smooth and sweet in equal measure, with the vanilla and creamy notes from the nose very prominent on the palate. Salted caramel and some barley sugar also make an appearance and that interesting citrus note fades in and out. (22/25)

Finish: Long finish with the bourbon sweetness the definite star of the show, along with a hint of salted caramel. Quite a rich dram and one that would go well with a chocolate-based dessert in my opinion. (22/25)

Balance: Nicely balanced dram with a core of sweetness which makes it very drinkable and somewhat moreish. (22/25)

Rating: 88/100

Overall, the Glenfiddich Gallery experience was a wonderful look into what the distillery was capable of and I am very much a fan of that 1984 sherry butt cask sample.

If anything, the distillery should consider releasing more sherried expressions as I’m very sure that they will fly off the shelves (and I’d definitely be one of those buying!)

Until the next time, have a great week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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