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Monday, June 17, 2019

Glenfiddich Fire & Cane

Can I assume this single malt's name references James Taylor's Fire and Rain, a song about depression and suicide? If so, at least Glenfiddich is being honest about the whisky.


Of Glenfiddich's Experimental Series, the IPA Cask and Project XX whiskies have been reviewed here, and I liked them both. I even bought a bottle of the IPA Cask and finished it. But no, I will not review Winter Storm. Not for that whisky's price. And not after Fire & Cane.

Let's get this over with.

Distillery: Glenfiddich
Ownership: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Maturation: From the official site: "By marrying peated whisky and malts matured in bourbon barrels, and then finishing in Latin rum casks, we created an exquisite whisky with campfire smokiness and toffee sweetness." I have a number of issues with this sentence, but there are bigger problems in this world.
Age: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Colored? Yes
Chillfiltered? Yes
(from a purchased sample)

The nose seems fine, in fact, it's exactly what one would expect. Young peated malt meets sugar-doped rum. There's melon liqueur, vanilla, lemon and berry-scented lotion in the midground and a lingering seaside note in the background. Very candied. And then the palate. Soap. Sugar. Also soap. Hay and peanuts. Bitter oak. Oranges and mild smoke. Soap. The finish is soapy, sweet and bitter, with a hint of smoky ham.

I had trouble drinking more than three sips of this. Even though, at 43%abv, it was already watered-down, I hoped this would improve with a little more dilution.

DILUED TO ~40%abv, or ½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Straightforward peat and orange oil notes in the nose, then melon liqueur, milk chocolate and fading embers. Perhaps the palate is 10% less soapy? It's also grassier and bitterer. It's become very tangy, while the smoke a receded to a mere residue. It finishes with a citrus-scented soap, fresh ginger and a whiff of wood smoke.

I don't think I've seen the soap note prominently referenced in other reviews of this whisky. What keeps me from thinking my sample was corrupted is that the nose is perfectly reasonable. There's nothing screwy with it. But the palate is just awful. Even when digging through to the other side of the soap, one finds aggressive sweetness and brutal oaky bitterness. Dilution reduces the soap one tick, the sweetness one tick, while the bitterness goes up two ticks. Soap aside, this is what happens when ultra-sweetened oaky rum meets very young oaky whisky. Bleh.

Availability - Most whisky specialty retailers around the planet
Pricing - $40-$60 worldwide
Rating - 66 (with water, 5-10 point lower without)


  1. Finally! I bought a bottle, based on 1.) a sale, 2.) good reviews on Reddit, and 3.) that it was one of those stores where you can drink a beer while you shop, and I was on my second. I've never had a whisky with this much soap in it. It's horrible! It's somewhat diminished after several months, though that could be from me trying to train myself to look past it. I'm sorry you had to experience this, too, and I wonder if that awful note is something like saccharin or cilantro, where some people find it intolerable and others don't even notice it, or even like it.

    1. Hooray, that makes two of us! Or should I say, Sorry to hear that? I've noticed that soap notes seem to jump out at me more often than for most other folks. Did you try any cocktails with this one? Did they work?