Tuesday 30 September 2014

Glenfiddich Excellence 26 year old Launch in Sydney (Tasted #125)

The Australian launch of the specially crafted Glenfiddich Excellence 26 was matched with an intimate story of the journey of the casks from which this single malt was bottled. The story, captured through a series of 26 delicate images by the celebrated Scottish landscape photographer Simmon Butterworth, explains the life of the casks from their humble beginning to their final home in Scotland.

Held at the old, splendid and well preserved Elizabeth Bay House, the folks at William Grant & Sons Australia have not only allowed the elegance of its new expression to shine, but also allowed the intricate and fine details of the house be appreciated. Once a private house, the house is remarkably delicate and beautiful with sweeping staircases, lavish interiors and furnishings (the perfect setting for the launch of such a whisky). Over the years, the house  has been converted into a museum and is now open for public viewings throughout the year.

Matching the elegance of the house were a number equally elegant and more commonly appreciated expressions including the Glenfiddich 12yo, Glenfiddich 14yo (Rich Oak), Glenfiddich 15yo, Glenfiddich 18yo and the Glenfiddich 21yo. Also making an appearance on the night was the "And see my baby" cocktail - finalist cocktail from the Pioneers Cocktail Competition last year, also served at the 125 years of pioneering spirit dinner TimeforWhisky attended in 2013.

Following the warm embrace of the welcoming cocktails and canapes, we were ushered into the cellar for the second part of the night. Located below the house, the original sandstone cellar was delicately used to showcase the 26 photographs which visually narrated the voyage of the casks from Kentucky through to their resting place in Scotland. The American Oak was originally used to age bourbon whiskey for 3 years in Kentucky, before being transported, refreshed and used as basis for maturation of this single malt in Scotland.

James Buntin, the Glenfiddich / Balvenie Australian ambassador (and soon to be Balvenie ambassador in the UK) presented the star of the night, the 26 year old final result of the journey, the Glenfiddich Excellence 26. James described the Glenfiddich Excellence 26 as one of his favourite, with a particularly long, deep and complex finish - the underlying character that warrants the value of such malt.

A hug and a kiss of the bottle by James before we dove into the tasting. At first glance, the Glenfiddich Excellence 26 appears quite lighty coloured for its age. Then again, Glenfiddich does tend to control the colouring of its whisky across certain expressions (Martin: When you're the world's number 1 selling single malt, people expect you to be consistent!). On the nose, this expression is quite light and sweet though the fieriness soon arrives on the palate. As James hinted, the finish was incredibly long, peppery and lasted for quite some time.

Glenfiddich Excellence 26 (43% ABV, 26yo, Speyside, Scotland, $590AUD)
Nose: Light and golden
Nose: Gentle, sweet pudding, honey
Palate: Very light (for the age) at first, peppery, fiery then vanilla
Finish: Incredibly very long finish with lingering pepper
Rating (on Hendy's very non-scientific scale): 93/100.

The launch of this new, beautiful 26 year old expression along with the exhibiting of the 26 remarkable photographs was astounding. The retail price of this expression is $590AUD, higher priced than other Glenfiddich expressions though suitably justified given its delicate craftmanship and final characters.

The Glenfiddich Excellence 26 is available in Australian stores from early October.

A big thanks to the William Grant & Sons Australia for what was another successful event.

- Hendy.

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