...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Glenfiddich IPA Experiment

As I mentioned in last Wednesday's review, Glenfiddich has an Experimental Series. These whiskies seem to sit somewhere in the hazy territory between gimmickry and brand expansion. I'm going to review two of these whiskies. One today and one on Wednesday.

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.

For the IPA Experiement, 'Fiddich's malt man Brian Kinsman worked with a Seb Jones, a Speyside craft brewer, to create an India Pale Ale which would then be used to season a slew of American oak barrels. The idea was to soak those casks so that the hoppiness would get deep into the staves. Kinsman used a freight container, which likely locked in the heat and humidity, for four weeks. These casks were then used to finish American oak barrel-matured Glenfiddich for 12 weeks.

Yes, this is a NAS release. But I'm intrigued by the interplay of whisky and beer — more so than that of whisky and wine — due to the similarity of their (metaphorical) DNA. And because I don't mind enjoying a whisky and beer side by side, from time to time.

Brand: Glenfiddich
Ownership: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Maturation: Round 1: ex-bourbon barrels. Round 2: twelve weeks in IPA-season US oak
Age: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Colored? Probably
Chillfiltered? Probably

It really does have a fizzy beer nose. A good dose of maltiness. Oatmeal and vanilla pudding. Curiously its grapefruit note reads more like Sauvignon Blanc than IPA. 1/1000th the hops of your average Charbay whiskey. With some time in the glass, the whisky releases lemon peel and roses. For the palate, take the 12yo, make it brighter and creamier. Add a gingery fizziness. Some coffee beans and oranges. And a brief whiff of hops. It's neither too sweet nor too vanilla-ed. It has a long fizzy finish as well. Black coffee bitterness. Wort. A hint of orange-y citrus.

DILUTED to 40%abv, or 1/2 tsp per 30mL whisky
The nose remains potent. Lots of grains. Almond extract, vanilla fudge and grapefruit. The palate feels thickened and malty. Fresh ginger and limes. Hints of sugar and vanilla. On the finish, it's ginger, coffee and roasted nuts.

I like it. Maybe, I'm a sucker for beer-barrel single malt. Mackmyra Vinterrök clicked, though New Holland's beered bourbon did not. I have a bottle of Sänits's beer cask stuff awaiting an opening this year.

Anyway, back to this stuff. It has Glenfiddich's usual restraint (something missing from the Bourbon Barrel Reserve), which works well here. All those beer-ish characteristics I list in the notes are quite soft and amicable. And I think that whatever IPA elements made it into the whisky actually heighten or frame the spirit's barley notes.

I'm not going to say this changed my life, but I'll buy into this experiment, like literally, someday soon. To make a confusing comparison, it's more of a session beer than a whompin' ten-percenter. And I'm more of a session guy nowadays.

Availability - Most whisky specialty retailers in US and Europe
Pricing - $60-$80 (US), $45-$65 (Europe, ex-VAT)
Rating - 86