Ok, I think I’m going to give up on the numbering… It’s already getting confusing to keep track of, and I’m barely approaching double digits.
Anyway… New double comparison review! The ubiquitous Glenfiddich 12 versus it’s big, burly brother the Glenfiddich 15 Distiller’s Edition! How do they stack up? Well, let’s say at least one of the two is really, really good.
Glenfiddich 12 Year Old (Speyside) – 40% ABV – $58.20 CAD (LCBO)
Colour: Deep Copper
Nose: All I can think is… Indistinct. It’s fresh, lightly sugary, with hints of fresh summer fruits. I want to say green apple, melon, and green grapes, but it’s muddled.
Palate: As you would expect from the nose: light, fresh and a little sweet brown sugar. The same sense of a light summer fruit salad without much distinction. Light caramel and vanilla with the barest hint of cinnamon.
Finish: Short, sweet, and sugary.
*(Quick caveat to this score: I gave this a slightly higher score than it probably deserves because I gave a lot of credit to Glenfiddich for producing a product of consistent quality that is well-priced and very approachable for their target consumer. In hindsight I’m not 100% sure if that was the right move, but I think intent of the product has to play into your interpretation of it, at least to some degree. With that in mind, if I were to grade it strictly on its flavour profile I would have to knock a few points off.)*
Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Distiller’s Edition (Speyside) – 51% ABV – $95.20 CAD (LCBO)
Colour: Rose Honey
Nose: Intense and lively. Big notes of barley, cereal, vanilla, toffee, and rich, dark fruits. Black berries, plums, and black currants.
Palate: Big arrival on the palate. Toffee and vanilla immediately, with black berries and dried cherries playing on the tongue early. The cereal notes from the nose remain, and dark chocolate notes develop with underlying spicy cinnamon.
Finish: Medium length immediately, but seems to repeat in waves. Caramel and peppery, cinnamon spiciness repeat in slightly variable waves. Interesting and impressive.
I opted to review these scotches in a comparative way, because up until very recently I had totally dismissed Glenfiddich as mediocre, mass-market consumer fodder. I obviously knew of it, but never gave it a second thought, at least until I happened upon a high-ABV, non-chill filtered release in the store, and decided to buy it on a whim.
I have to admit, I was blown away when I first tried the Distiller’s Edition. Granted, my expectations were seriously low at that point, but I tip my hat to Glenfiddich for this one. It’s a lovely whisky all around and has a finish that I simply adore. This is probably my favorite scotch discovery of 2017, and like all Glenfiddich products, it’s one that can be had at a comparatively reasonable price. Bonus.
So, with that in mind, I thought: “Am I giving Glenfiddich a bad rap? Is there more to the 12 than I remember?”. And thus the comparison idea was born.
Was I giving them a bad rap? As it turns out… Probably not. I will admit, the 12 year old Glenfiddich was not nearly *as bad* as I recall, but I think mediocre to average is still an apt description. I could see myself sipping it with friends who don’t generally drink whisky, or over ice on a warm day, but I probably wouldn’t drink it beyond that. I probably over-graded it somewhat, but as I mentioned above, I do believe that the intent of the producer should be taken into account to some degree when the consumer interprets it. If Glenfiddich’s intention was to produce a whisky that is easy to drink and will appeal to a mass audience, then mission accomplished.
In any event, if you’re a Glenfiddich doubter as I was, try to the Distiller’s Edition. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.