Scotchblog was thrilled to be invited to Glenfiddich's most recent stop in Toronto, where we were again fortunate enough to chat with Ian Millar, the Global Ambassador for Glenfiddich. Arriving early to The Spoke Club on King Street, press were admitted in advance to enjoy a taste of the Glenfiddich 40 year old.
Released in January 2010, the Glenfiddich 40 Year Old is a combination of whiskies distilled between 1925 and the 1950s. As Ian pointed out, the 40 year has some remarkable differences from whiskys produced today. Typical of of whiskys distilled in the first half of the 20th century, the 40 year has been matured almost completely in European oak casks. These days the majority of whiskys are matured primarily in ex-bourbon, American oak casks. The Glenfiddich 12 for example, has a 15% European oak to 85% American oak maturation distribution.
Glenfiddich 40 is a delight we were glad to have the opportunity to experience. It's nose is alive with black cherries, dried fruits, and cloves. Upon taking the first sip, one cannot help but think back to the first half of the past century, when the actual distillation of this gorgeous liquid was taking place. The palate reveals its wonderful age with a beautifully oaky base which is accented by bitter citrus notes and a complex, constantly changing finish.
As unfortunate at is was, although Ian had brought with him two bottles of the Glenfiddich 50 year old, he was unable to share it with us. With one bottle reserved for a tasting in Banff, and another slated for the SAQ shelves in Quebec (with a mere $26,000 price tag), we can completely understand the inability for us to taste the 50 year old expression.
As the tasting proper got underway, members of the Spoke Club joined us. With Ian Miller at the helm, he guided us through a tasting of the Glenfiddich 12, 15, 18, and 21 year olds.
The Glenfiddich 18 and 21 year olds were especially notable, with the 18 year old containing significantly more European oak than their younger expressions, it highlighted its maturity with spicy cinnamon opening up to a smooth finish. After tasting, It's no surprise to learn that this single malt won the Best in Class award at the IWSC last year.
The Glenfiddich 21 on the other hand, has been finished for four months in ex-Caribbean rum casks, which comes through on the finish.
The highlight of the entire evening was from Ian MacDonald, Glenfiddich's master cooper. Glenfiddich is one of the few distillers that still operates their own cooperage. With a 60 to 65 year lifespan of a cask that Glenfiddich assembles, Ian has a good point when he states that "we don't feel that one of the most important components that goes into your final product should be outsourced to another company ".
Ian MacDonald is indeed truly a master at his trade; in front of our eyes, he assembles a casks from a pile of staves to an air-tight 135 litre vessel in under six minutes. In addition to being the master cooper at Glenfiddich, Ian is also the leading fireman for his watch at the Dufftown volunteer fire brigade. Glenfiddich maintains six to seven coopers on staff year round to keep up with the work of assembly, disassembly, charring, skiving, and toasting the casks.
We must take this opportunity to again thank Meghan from Jesson + Company for the invitation to this delightful evening. We are always thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with one of the foremost authorities in the world of single malts.