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Monday, July 6, 2015

The Spring Whiskies: Glenfiddich 15 year old Distillery Edition (2013)

Because I drink seasonally, I employ strategery when opening my bottles.  For instance, I don't open Octomores or Ardbegs in the summer because I don't crave soot and smoke in warm weather.  On the other hand, I don't open up light fruity whiskies in the winter since that's when I want heavier darker things in my glass.  Thus, it was a Spring of The Glens here.  My spring whiskies were two Glendronachs, one Glen Spey, one Glenlivet, and one Glenfiddich.  I reviewed the two Glendronachs last month; I'm making the Glen Spey last a long time; the review for the Glenlivet will be later this week; and I'll be damned but the 'Fiddich is all gone except for today's salvaged sample.  Hell, this big cork topper is all that's left of the bottle.

Yes, I never did review my winter whiskies.  I'll be sure to do so right in the middle of summer, at the least appealing time.

Anyway, back to the Glenfiddich.  As per my request, my lovely wife picked up a one-liter bottle of Glenfiddich 15 year old Distillery Edition from the duty free shop in OR Tambo (Johannesburg) Airport last December.  It's really one of the only whiskies of interest in a travel retail market full of overpriced NAS one-offs.

I reviewed the 15yo Distillery Edition last April from a purchased sample.  This time it's from a much larger and reliable source.  In the concluding section of last year's review I wrote, "Finally, an adult whisky from Glenfiddich", "a Glenfiddich that can easily compete with other upper echelon Speyside/Highland malts", "it's a real whisky and it's good to know what Glenfiddich can do", and that Oliver Klimek was right about something.  After obtaining my own bottle would I find those same statements to be true?  Or did that liter of whisky just magically and quickly vanish on its own?

Photo borrowed from last year's post because
I didn't even think to take a pic of my own bottle.
Brand: Glenfiddich
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Maturation: a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks
Age: at least 15 years old
Bottle Code: L3
Alcohol by Volume: 51%
Colored? Probably
Chillfiltered? No

The color is reddish-orange gold.  There's quite a bit of (mostly American) oak in the nose, right up front.  Stuff like vanilla ice cream, Cow Tales candy, and milk chocolate.  Then dried apricots, canned peaches, black licorice, and lime juice.  Smaller notes of Pledge furniture polish, dried grass, something green like dandelion stems, and maybe some moss.  While plenty of caramel and vanilla live in the palate, there's also vibrant floral esters throughout.  Then milk chocolate, orange candies, and a hint of salt.  A peppery note builds with time.  The finish gets more orangey and floral than the palate.  I also found the canned peaches, caramel candies, and lemon candies.  To counter that are some tight tannins and a whiff of smoke.

WITH WATER (~43%abv)
At first the nose is silenced.  But gradually notes of canned peaches, lime zest, caramel, dried grass, and moss appear.  The palate is much more peppery now.  It's also thick and sweet.  Big notes of lime and oaky caramel, along with a hint of ginger.  The finish is also sweeter and still holds on for a while considering the added water.  Oranges, limes, and barley are what make it up.

The nose is very complex for a Glenfiddich, to which we can probably thank the higher ABV and lack of chillfiltration.  But it drinks so easily at 51%abv and that's where it wins.  That's why this one-liter bottle was drained much too quickly.  It's very rich without being very complex.  It holds up well with water, but I prefer it without.  Compared to last year's sample, my bottle had a little less sherry and a little more US oak.

Otherwise, everything else I have to say confirms my first review.  This is highest quality product in Glenfiddich's regular range and it's a shame it's not part of their regular range in the US.  While the 12yo and 15yo are very good values, the 15yo Distillery Edition is very good whisky.  As long as they keep selling these 1L bottles via travel retail, this will always be my first choice at duty free shops.

Availability - Everywhere except for the US
Pricing - this bottle was $70 for the full liter, otherwise 700mLs will run about $60-$80 with int'l shipping
Rating - 87 (neat only)

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