Finally the embargo has lifted on me talking about the Glenfiddich IPA and Glenfiddich Project XX product launches under Glenfiddich’s new Experimental Series range, and wow are whisky drinkers the world over in for a treat.
Heritage whisky brands often play relatively safe, releasing formulaic age statement releases that step up three years at a time, occasionally a limited edition that breaks away from that format and an ever-increasing array of non-age statement releases at the lower end of the market.
Glenfiddich is anything but formulaic; their brand is anchored in a being the Maverick Whisky Makers of Dufftown, and boy do they deliver on it.
Glenfiddich is all about quiet innovation, releasing ‘maverick’ whisky products or undertaking ‘maverick’ pursuits as a business and not really grabbing the megaphone to shout about it. We’re talking; first company to commercially sell single malt whisky, first to export internationally, the building of the Girvan grain distillery and many, many more.
Oh, and incidentally, there are 75 different cask types currently maturing in one form or other at the Glenfiddich distillery.
Which brings us on to the release of the first two Experimental Series releases; Glenfiddich IPA and Glenfiddich Project XX.
Essentially, Seb created an IPA, using British hops including the notorious challenger hops, he then filled the beer into American oak casks that had previously held Glenfiddich for around twelve years to make the most of the delicate flavours already present.
These casks were then left outside in a temperature-controlled container to soak in to the casks, as well as allowing the beer to take on some of the whisky and oak notes so that the IPA ultimately achieved the aroma of an empty cask.
The beer was then bottled and the casks refilled with an aged Glenfiddich for a few more months to allow it to mellow and to pick up additional complexity.
Brian Kinsman, Malt Master for William Grant & Sons, was at pains to say that the goal was not to create a whisky that tasted like a beer as “this would defeat the whole point”, but to create a whisky that had multiple layers that would otherwise be unexpected from Glenfiddich and the Scottish single malt category.
The result was a whisky that had a fruity soft, creamy nose with pangs of pineapple that thickens with time in the glass. On the palate the same notes were present for me as well as an amped up creaminess coupled with a hop note that led to a slightly bitter note that evolved into quite hot spices. Lovely.
Seb finished the tasting of the Glenfiddich IPA by saying that for him it was an “exciting project to be a part of, [I] learned a lot about whisky science and hope that Brian learned that some beers are good.” [Cue: laughter]
The second release in Glenfiddich’s Experimental Series is their Project XX expression, which was made not simply by one Malt Master, but 20! 20 Malt Masters were invited to the Glenfiddich distillery and invited them to pick any expression from the thousands of casks maturing in the warehouse. The 20 chosen whiskies were then married by Malt Master Brian Kinsman to create this single malt you see before your eyes. Hooray for teamwork!
Classic fruitiness with hints of apple blossom and plump pear. A perfect balance of rich vanilla oak with golden sugar and a touch of liquorice.
Deep and mellow, the candyfloss sweetness is complemented by unusual notes of toasted almonds and cinnamon and a hint of crisp tannin.
Character:Long lasting with a savoured sweet oakiness.
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