...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Glenfiddich 14 year old Bourbon Barrel Reserve

If there's one philosophy that most Scotch distilleries currently follow, it's Add More American Oak. Whether it's through recharred/"rejuvenated" barrels or new/"virgin" oak casks, there appear to be three ideas for monetizing this ideology:

1.) Let's bottle younger, or NAS, whisky.
2.) Let's call a whisky "experimental" and charge more for it.
3.) Let's get bourbon drinkers to buy scotch.

Glenfiddich 14 year old Bourbon Barrel Reserve fulfills the third approach.

Exhibit A: It has an age statement of double digits, so that excludes reason #1.
Exhibit B: They already have their own "Experimental Series".
Exhibit C: The first paragraph on the official site: "Think a bourbon heart can't hold a single malt soul? Our 14 Year Old Bourbon Barrel Reserve uniquely delivers the smooth sophistication of Scotland with the sweet kick of Kentucky."

Glenfiddich already had a 14 year old oaky thing in Europe called, Rich Oak. But to be utterly clear about their American intentions with this one, they slap "Bourbon Barrel" right above the age statement.

Brand: Glenfiddich
Ownership: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Maturation: Round 1: ex-bourbon barrels. Round 2: deep-charred new American oak barrels.
Age: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Colored? Probably
Chillfiltered? Probably

Its color is much darker than of the older and partially sherry cask matured Snow Phoenix. Two things are going on in the nose, and they don't really play well together. First, there's the spirit side: hay, lime and cream of wheat. And then there's the oak side: Caramel, wood pulp, wood spice, almond extract and more caramel. It comes across as flat and blendy much of the time. The palate is very sweet. Vanilla, confectioner's sugar, taffy, caramel, simple syrup, corn syrup, more vanilla. Some smaller notes of limes and bitter oak show up here and there. It finishes sweet and warm, with lime, vanilla and corn syrup.

DILUTED TO 40%abv, or 0.5tsp water per 30mL whisky
The nose seems to improve at first, with new notes of apples and manure. But then oak happens. Lots of sawdust, lots of cardboard and vanilla. The palate would be an improvement if there wasn't so much bitter oak. Otherwise it's sweet and tangy, and lightly floral. Plenty of taffy and vanilla. The finish is all pepper, vanilla and bitter oak.

I am probably not the target demographic for this whisky, even though I do enjoy bourbon. Will this appeal to bourbon lovers? I don't know because this isn't bourbon. Bourbon and single malt scotch whisky are two very different things. And this is just single malt scotch whisky with a lot of oak. This whisky makes one wonder if Glenfiddich Vanilla and/or Glenfiddich Caramel flavored whisky would have been a better idea. That way they'd leave less up to chance AND they could use younger whisky.

I don't recommend this to single malt enthusiasts. Heck, I don't even recommend this to Glenfiddich fans. It'll just leave one wishing for the 12 year old.

Availability - All over the USA
Pricing - $40-$70
Rating - 72