Glenfiddich proclaims itself to be the world’s best selling single malt. I have absolutely no reason to dispute this claim and I imagine it to be true since I’ve seen a triangular green bottle of the flagship 12 year old in practically every bar I’ve ever visited. Recently (within the last 5-10 years) however, I have noticed that the Glenfiddich distillery has been actively marketing more premium expressions, with a variety of special releases and older age-statement whiskies.
The Glenfiddich 15 year old Distillery Edition is one such whisky. Although it is only a step up from the 12, this dram is distinguished from the regular 15 year old expression with a higher bottling strength. This whisky is bottled at 51% abv and is available at my local liquor store for about $80 per bottle.
The Glenfiddich Distillery Edition presents a deep honey-gold hue. It looks like a classic Speyside whisky that has avoided too much sherry influence. A swirl of my Glencairn results in a thick coating that eventually releases medium legs that stubbornly return to the dram.
In the Nose
The breezes above my glass are pretty typical of a Speyside whisky with orchard fruit upfront. Vanilla is also present along with some brown sugar and baking spices. I also sense something a little bit floral, but also kind of vegetal… Chopped chilies? It’s very nice!
On the Tongue
POW! That 51% abv whacks your tonsils right away… but it’s more of a karate chop of flavour rather than just a swift kick of alcohol-burn. Within the oily mouthfeel there is a sweet, honeyed spiciness about this dram and it has a bit of that dusty character normally associated with a Canadian rye whisky. However, the abv warms my mouth a lot and leaves my tongue tingling more than I really like. I don’t normally water my whiskies, but this one seems to be begging for it…
A couple drops of water does tame the Distillery Edition down just a bit and reveals vanilla and oaky flavours that were previously overpowered. That rye-like spice remains and I’m curious where it comes from since it’s not a flavour I usually associate with Scotch whiskies. It seems to be missing the sweetness that I expect from Glenfiddich malts. This whisky is good but, all and all, it’s a bit of a one-note flavour profile, in my opinion.
This whiskey exits fairly quickly, with a little burnt sugar and a hint of baked apples. Dominating the finish, however, is a lingering soapy bitterness. It must not be altogether unpleasant… the drying quality of this whisky does leave me reaching for another sip.
Overall, this whisky strikes me as rather ordinary. It’s fine and I wouldn’t turn down a dram… but it’s not threatening any of my favourites, or even any of the whiskies I’d put in my second tier. I know it’s not super old but I expect more from a 15 year old and from a whisky bottled at 102 proof.