Sunday 11 August 2013

Shirt Bar Scotch Club: Glenfiddich 15yo deconstructed (July 2013)

A change in direction in July for Scotch Club - and a welcome one at that. Shirt Bar, along with William Grant & Sons presented a single Whisky (Glenfiddich 15yo Solera), deconstructed into its individual parts.

Led by The Whisky Ambassador (aka James Buntin, who hosts the most entertaining tastings I've ever attended), the night involved trying a variety of "money can't buy" Glenfiddich cask finishes, then "vat strength" Solera, followed by the original bottling 15yo Solera. To make things even more interesting, we were given the opportunity to blend our own Glenfiddich 15yo, and see how close we could get to the original (in my case - not very...)

The full lineup was:

  • Glenfiddich New Make (65.6% ABV): Chewy, with a big warm mouthfeel and bubblegum notes. Add some water and you get notes of sugarcane. Smooth throughout with absoutely no "burn". 80/100.
  • American Oak - used (59.2%): Light colour and light on the palate. Vanilla, apricot. 90/100.
  • American Oak - new (3-6 months) (58.8): This one had spent some additional time in new American oak, and was all the better for it. I have no hesitation in saying this was one of the best Glenfiddichs I've ever tried. I just wish they'd bottle it! Rich and dark in colour, with an amazing sweet nose and creamy sweet palate. Reminds me a little of the Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel, one of my favourite whiskies. Fantastic. 94/100.
  • Spanish Oak - used (59.2%): Dark, spicy with an intense sherry sweetness. Huge mouthfeel with the peppery spice lingering to the end. 92/100.
  • Solera vat cask strength (59.6%): I'd been lucky enough to try this one once back in 2009  (albeit slightly more "fresh" as it was direct the vat on the Glenfiddich tour). That was a great experience and whilst drinking it from a bottle wasn't quite the same, the whisky itself was just as good. James explained that the final vatting contains about 65-70% of used American oak-aged Glenfiddich, with the new American oak and Spanish oak making up the remainder. The bourbon notes were definitely there, but slightly muted. Sherry was evident on the palate, but the finish showed more bourbon influence. 91/100.
  • My own blend: Sherried, and extremely dry. Spicy too - obviously too much Spanish oak in the mix!
  • My own blend (attempt #2): Still dry, though with a sweeter more vanilla finish. Not a bad effort if I do say so myself. 90/100.
  • Glenfiddich 15yo Solera (original bottling, 40%): The one we can all buy. To be honest, whilst it's a great whisky, after trying all the components (and my own blends) as cask-strength varieties, the OB at 40% felt a bit lacking. The same notes as the cask strength Solera vatting were there, perhaps with a bit more fruit, but it all felt a bit watered down. A great dram, but not one to drink after a night of cask strength whiskies!

James finished the night with a great trick I've seen him do once before - carefully pouring whisky into a glass of water through a tea towel. Why? Because if you do it right, you get this effect to the left!

..and on that note it was time to close out another Scotch Club (not before the usual generous and delicious cold cuts platter). We like this new direction for Scotch Club, and hope to see more like this in the future.
 - Steph & Martin.

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