...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Glenfiddich Project XX

I'm going to start with Monday's intro because I'm lazy:
...Glenfiddich has an Experimental Series. These whiskies seem to sit somewhere in the hazy territory between gimmickry and brand expansion....Unlike most gimmickry, these two whiskies have piqued my interest a tad. I believe Glenfiddich creates a solid malt whisky that could do with a little less water and a little more excitement. And by excitement, I do not mean marketing. I mean something more like their Distillery Edition and less like the Bourbon Barrel Reserve. Now, which side the Experimental Series lands on...well, we shall see....
On Monday I reviewed Glenfiddich IPA Experiment, and it was a success!

While I understand the experimental side of that whisky, I don't really see it with today's Project XX. Glenfiddich's whiskymaker Brian Kinsman describes the whisky's thesis thusly:
I wanted to create an unexpected whisky. Traditionally every malt whisky is chosen and vatted by one Malt Master to their taste, but what if there were 20 Malt Masters?
But that's not how this whisky works. Yes, he selected twenty "whisky experts" to choose his or her own preferred cask from a warehouse. But then Kinsman blends them "in the perfect ratio" of his choosing. He gets to choose the whisky's texture, nose, palate and entire character. Thus there remains only one Malt Master for this whisky.

So I'm not sold on the idea behind it. Also, it's NAS. But it has been bottled at 47%abv, and there are two sherry butts + 1 port pipe in the mix, so what the hell, I'll try it.

Brand: Glenfiddich
Ownership: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Maturation: 17 ex-bourbon casks, 2 sherry butts and 1 port pipe
Age: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 47%  ← Glenfiddich goin' crazy!
Colored? Maybe
Chillfiltered? Maybe not

The nose is a little louder and wilder than your usual Glenfiddich. There's berries, milky coffee, yeast, white peaches, gumballs and a whiff of dunnage. The palate is almost smoky. Some nice bold herbal bitterness. Raw cocoa. Cassis and dried cranberries. A hint of petite sirah? Nectarines. It finishes long and loud. Bitter cocoa, cayenne pepper, tart stone fruits, yeast and currants.

DILUTED TO 40%abv, or >1 tsp water per 30mL whisky
The nose still has the gumballs, coffee, yeast and dunnage (quite a combo). But now there's lemon, apple juice and room temperature pilsner. The palate has tart berries and citrus up front. Roasted nuts and coffee beans beneath. Orange peel and nutty brittle. The roasted note stands out most in the finish, where it's met with bitter chocolate, orange peel and lemon candy.

While I find the logic behind the experiment suspect, I like the whisky. The fortified wine casks are present throughout. Even though they make up 15% of the casks, they probably accounted for 30-35% of the potential ingredients due to their volume. And, of course the one Malt Master blended everything as he wished, so the sherry and port elements could have played an even larger role than 35%.

The higher abv gives the whisky a burst of life when neat, and then allows for more tinkering with dilution by the drinker/customer. Do those elements go well together? In the nose, sometimes. In the palate, usually. But it's nice to have a perky Glenfiddich.

I was going to score it higher than the IPA Experiment, but then I drank them each casually, and found the IPA Experiment to be more pleasurable. The tartness and bitterness of Project XX didn't stand up as well over the hour. Still, I'd choose this over Snow Phoenix.

Availability - Most whisky specialty retailers in US and Europe
Pricing - $65-$90 (US), $50-$70 (Europe, ex-VAT)
Rating - 85