Whisky Review #101: Glenfiddich Project XX Cask Sample (Mr Matthew Fergusson-Stewart)

Ahh Glenfiddich. There is a reason why the distillery produces the world’s most awarded range of single malts and that reason is simply because the distillate is sublime.

It is also one of those distilleries where everyone has a differing opinion as to which is their favourite expression from the core range and they tend to be rather vocal about it. For the record, my favourite expression from the range would have to be the Glenfiddich 15 Years Old Solera Reserve.

While Glenfiddich has released a multitude of interesting limited edition expressions over the years which highlight the depth of their inventory, it can be safely said that the vast majority of casks which are presently maturing in their warehouses are of the bourbon variety.

One of the distillery’s more recent releases would be Project XX, which was the product of some interesting cask selections by 20 of the company’s brand ambassadors from around the world. The expression has previously been reviewed on this blog and can be found here: Glenfiddich Project XX

The breakdown of the 20 casks which were selected for this first batch were broken down into the following categories:

  • 17 bourbon hogsheads
  • 2 sherry butts
  • 1 port pipe

While it was nice to have sampled and reviewed the finished product for what it was, I was rather intrigued about the various component whiskies which went into the creation of the expression and wondered if it was possible to get my hands on a sample.

That question was happily answered recently, when Mr Matthew Fergusson-Stewart, the Asia Pacific Brand Ambassador for Glenfiddich and a dear friend, agreed to provide me with a sample which was drawn from the cask that he chose for the vatting.

This week’s review focuses on a cask sample of Glenfiddich which was distilled in 1999, matured for between 16 and 17 years in a single bourbon hogshead and drawn from the cask on the 14th of June 2016 at a cask strength abv of 62.4% in order to be used to create the first batch of Glenfiddich Project XX.

So, let’s jump right into the review!

sdr
Glenfiddich Project XX Cask Sample (Mr Matthew Fergusson-Stewart)

Glenfiddich Project XX Cask Sample (Selected by Mr Matthew Fergusson-Stewart, Distilled in 1999, Bourbon hogshead, 62.4% abv)

Colour: Golden sunrise

Nose: Initial entry presents a pronounced vanilla note along with stewed red apples, creme brulee, barley sugar, lime and oak. With time, hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and coconut emerge and are complemented by some nuttiness and a hybrid of mint, black, chrysanthamum and camomile tea leaves. This may be a cask strength dram, but it is surprisingly mellow. (23/25)

Palate: Initial entry presents green apple followed by some spirity hints and a wonderful effervescence which saturates the entire palate. Lime juice, vanilla, mint tea, white wine, apple crumble and nutmeg are chased by oak, stewed red apples and a tiny hint of dessicated coconut. (22/25)

Finish: Medium to long on the finish, with the stewed red apples, green apples and citric notes from the lime hints combining well with the oak and wood spices to provide a warming and pleasantly rounded end to the proceedings. A final flash of rose water at the very end. (21/25)

Balance: An exceptionally well-balancd dram that possesses a great deal of complexity which is apparent from start to finish. The mouthfeel is oily for the most part and the warmth from the wood spices provides a touch of dryness at the end. (22/25)

Rating: 88/100

If anything, this is a great example of the magic that can happen when great distillate meets an active and engaging cask. The ex-bourbon cask has shaped the distillate well and lent a multitude of complexities to it, when has resulted in a whisky which is actually impressive enough to deserve a standalone release.

While Glenfiddich hasn’t released many single cask expressions over the years, the introduction of the Glenfiddich Gallery programme in 2015 has given fans an inside look at the various casks that the distillery possesses as well as the opportunity to own a bottle of these releases for their own consumption.

The hope now is that the distillery makes this a more widespread and accessible initiative as it would provide fans with the chance to own something truly unique for a reasonable price.

As this expression is a cask sample, it will not be available for purchase and the only means of trying it would be to purchase either a dram or a bottle of Project XX. Needless to say, it is worth the purchase price.

Special thanks must go to Mr Matthew Fergusson-Stewart for providing me with the opportunity to savour and review this wonderful sample and I couldn’t thank him enough.

Until the next review, have a wonderful week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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