Glenfiddich (18 year)

Now, as my loyal readers will surely remember, I posted a rather uncomplimentary review of Glenfiddich 12 awhile ago, and got flamed for it. Let the record show that I was not (and am not now) dismissing the entire distillery of Glenfiddich. This 18 year-old is quite good, as you can see from my review below. I stand by my Glenfiddich 12 review – I think it’s simply not as good as The Glenlivet 12 (which is more or less the same price), and doesn’t hold a candle to many of the malts available for $5 or $10 more. The 18, however, especially at the fantastic price of $44 that I found recently at Costco in Folsom, CA, is quite good, and I would definitely get another bottle at this price.

I’m a big believer in thrift, and I think that a whisky tastes better if it was obtained for a better-than-average price. In the same way, I have a lot of respect for whisky brands that buck the trend and offer high-quality products for reasonable amounts of money. The now-common industry practice of slapping a clever name on a single-barrel of 11 year old product or a vatting of warehouse leftovers and selling it for $100+ just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and lowers my respect for that company. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found Glenfiddich 18 for $44 at my local Costco. No matter how you slice it, it’s expensive to age any amount of single malt for 18 years, so go Glenfiddich! This one has been aged in a combination of Oloroso sherry casks and bourbon casks. The malt was then vatted and married in small batches in oak tuns. My tasting notes follow.

Nose: A grainy nose tickle, with a punch of alcohol behind it. This resolves (especially with a little time resting in the glass) into honeycomb and dried apricot. Cold baklava and cherry syrup, with a hint of orange sherbet. A little green grass or herbal tinge – surprising after 18 years in the cask! The wood is not pronounced, although there is a telltale whiff of sherry. A dash of water wakes up this slumbering beauty, and the fiery nose intensifies. Along with it come firm red stone fruits, sour green plums, and raspberry jam.

Body: Medium and mouth-filling, but not particularly full or oily.

Palate: A nutty fieryness upfront. Hazelnuts and pecans. A thin layer of jammy fruits and red currants. Malty cereal and orange-blossom honey. The dash of water releases some younger fruit notes, like the aforementioned raspberry jam and green plum. In fact, with the hazelnuts and cereal, there is a suggestion of nut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Awesome!

Finish: Medium-length and warming. More nuttiness in the throat – the hazelnuts particularly. The added water yields a longer back-of-the-tongue finish, with a ghost of strawberry hard candies.

The delectable hazelnut and honey flavors are many-layered, and are supported by an elegant, smooth-but-fiery sweet malty character. The sherry is definitely in the background. I wouldn’t call this well-balanced, but as the dominant nuttiness is so tasty, I definitely recommend it, especially if you can find a deal.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

Glenfiddich needs little introduction. One of the most prevalent single malt Scotches available in the US, the baseline 12-year can be found in drug stores, supermarkets, liquor shops, bars, and restaurants across America. In fact, Glenfiddich and Glenlivet are probably the only two single malts that many Americans would recognize by name. In 1963, William Grant & Sons company set aside casks of Glenfiddich whisky with plans to market it as a single malt. Single malts were, at the time, exclusively the domain of independent bottlers, and were not widely available outside of specialty wine & spirits retailers. This move started the industry (which soon followed suit) down the path of official distillery bottlings of single malt whisky, and is largely the reason today’s whisky industry is so diverse. Located in Dufftown, in Speyside. Glenfiddich means “The Valley of The Deer” and refers to the field on which the distillery is sited – it also explains the image of a deer on the label. The entire production, from malting to bottling, is done on-site, which is very rare for a distillery. Craft Campbeltown distiller Springbank may be the only other one. Glenfiddich even has its own cooperage. Open mash tuns and Douglas-fir washbacks are used in distillation, and the water flows from Robbie Dubh spring, which rises from the granite Conval Hills. With 29 stills making 10 million litres of whisky a year, it’s no surprise that 33% of the world’s malt whisky sales are Glenfiddich. Even if you don’t appreciate the “mass-market” aspect of their whiskies, you have to appreciate the industry revolution set in motion by William Grant a half-century ago, and the powerhouse brand that he built.
Glenfiddich (18 year)
43% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $51-$58
Acquired: (Bottle) purchased from Costco, Folsom, CA. $44

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  • it’s been a few years since i had the 18 yo so i don’t remember any of the details but i do remember it being pretty good. i also paid more than $44 for it. you seem to get good selection and prices at your local costco’s. i envy you. my costco had macallan 12 yo for a really good price last year. i thought that was their reg price (no sale signs) and when i finally went to purchase a few bottles, the price had gone up (same as other retailers). they also don’t have the selection (with respect to single malts) that your costco does. it seems that prices for single malts are the best in california. i’m basing this opinion on the prices i’ve seen online. ny and tx appear to be similar and ca is significantly lower.

  • @JWC, I have found some pretty great deals at Costco, although they change frequently, and sometimes they have very little stock at all. When I got the Glenfiddich, they had about 12 malts. When I went back a few weeks later, they only had 5. Also, I’ve been to two other stores in the Bay Area and haven’t seen much of interest.

    About CA prices – I’m something of a miser, so I do a lot of shopping around. The prices on my site are usually the result of looking for a bottle at several retailers that I know have low prices. We have our fair share of stores that try to sell Laphroaig 10 for $65 here too, for example. 😉

  • Hello Scotch Noob!
    I just recently discovered your website (found a link on I’m enjoying reading your reviews. Keep it up!

    If you happen to come across Glenfiddich 15yo, you should try it. Got the 12yo, 15yo and 21yo Glenfiddich in my cabinet (along with Ardbeg 10yo, Yamazaki, Laphroaig QC, Macallan, Caol Ila 1999, Balvenie Double Wood and some others….)
    I do agree that the Glenfiddich 12yo is not all that exciting in comparison with other similar priced whiskies. But the 15yo on the other hand is one that’s really worth a try. It is really different than the 12yo and I think the 15yo is better than the 21yo.

    I am not that experienced as you are in the world of whisky (far from it!) and ,like every body else, it’s just another opinion.

    Greetings from the Netherlands.

      • Thank you for the warm welcome.
        Yes, there are so many whiskies to taste and to enjoy… but that makes it just more enjoyable and more satisfying if you find another delicious whisky.


      • Noob,

        As T.J. mentioned you need to do yourself a favor and try the Glenfiddich 15. Having tried several different scotch’s I always come back to this one as a personal favorite. It drinks much more like an 18 year however is priced below $40…..that’s a pretty good deal to me.

        I would love to hear your review on it, if you do I think you’ll find a spot for it on your shelf permanently.

        • Thanks Brad,

          I did try Glenfiddich 15 at WhiskyFest last year, and thought it warranted a second look. I just haven’t gotten around to picking up a bottle yet. Too much whisky, not enough time/money! 😉

  • Excellent site…. I am a rookie scotch drinker, but am definatley hooked… However my tasting experience is somewhat limited at this point. Macallan 18, Johnnie Walker Blue, Talisker… Any suggestions what I should try, If i am going to spend the money for good scotch I want to make sure I am going to be tasting something enjoyable. All suggestions are welcome…Thanks

    • Hi Eric, thanks for the comment! If you like Talisker, you should probably try Lagavulin 16, which is peatier but one of the best Islays for that price range. If you like Macallan, you might like GlenDronach. I really like the (much cheaper) GlenDronach “Original” 12 year, but the older ones are even better. Springbank is another distillery that always produces excellent (if pricey) malt, somewhat peated. Highland Park 18 is a great value for an 18, and one of my favorites in that age range. You could also try Aberlour abunadh, which is cask-strength and fully sherried. If you want to branch out and try wine-finishes, you can’t go far wrong with Glenmorangie’s Quinta Ruban (port finish) or (even better) the Sauternes-finished Nectar d’Or. Springbank also has limited-edition finishes like Madeira and Fino Sherry which are interesting. You can find reviews for most of those by searching my site. Enjoy!

  • I agree about the 12, not bad but the 15 & 18 are much better, when I aquired the taste for scotch, I started off with Dewars if I remember correctly?
    Then after reading so many of Alistair Maclean novels and Glenfiddich being in so many of them my curiosity got the best of me and I was introduced to single malt which made all the difference to me, now I don’t drink any other scotch but this, it’s hard to find the 18 so my main drink is the Solera Reserve 15, not a big fan of Glenlivet, but if I do sway away from the norm I do like Glenmorangie or Whyte and Mackay.

  • I began to try single malts after buying my Father in law a bottle of the Glenfiddich 12 for Christmas. I have since bought him Glenfiddich 12,18 and Macallan 18 and a bottle of the Glenlivet 18. I paid way too much for the whisky, but he is the former Mayor of Daytona… He shares only the smallest amounts with me (old school Irishman)and he has taught me how to sip and savor…I bought my first personal bottle of Glenfiddich 18 today! Thank you for the tips and advice. Cheers to you.

  • $33 for 1 liter bottle here in Duty Free shops (san diego). But had to buy minimum 2 to get that deal, even better!!! Lol

  • This was my first bottle of scotch and I was not overally impressed compared to my other later selections (Balvenie, MacAllen, GlenDronach). I plan to eventually try again but at this point the 18 year old is not at the top of list although I will say it was quite good quality.

  • Seriously?

    Seriously?, you really want to know how this scotch tastes?

    I’ll tell ya!

    Its bloody great!

    I won’t go on with a bunch of self-absorbed, arrogant and pretentious garbage like “it pairs with this” or “it pairs with that” or it has “subtle notes of this and that”, or smells like a whore’s drawers, quite simply, its just a goddamned good single malt scotch whisky. In fact, its a great phucking whisky if you can afford it, and I can!!!!! And more than that, it stimulates the creative senses and inflames the genitals and makes you want to rob banks and put the top down and go for drives in the countryside with law enforcement and gunfire!!!!

    It’s best enjoyed in the company of real men.

    Like you and a bunch of yer friends gathered on a glacier or on the top of some really big goddamned mountain you climbed in the midst of a blizzard, pouring a few shots to celebrate all while you sing Viking war songs.

    Or with that same group of real men, real men with beards and scars and tattoos, some of whom have robbed banks and plotted coup d’etat’s and stuff and done prison time, some of the others have killed bears and mountain lions and shit, and there you are just you and the men, sitting around a campfire or a living-room filled with books and leather furniture and stuff talking about war and global conquest and trapping wolverines or that woman who’s vagina you set on fire with the friction of your massive, manly, magnificent man-meat and how, after you set her vagina aflame, you used those flames to spark up your Cohiba Robusto Fino Cameroon….and then watched her as she cooked you up a blood soaked filet Mignon all the while, clad in her skimpy panties, she kept refilling your scotch glass and vacuumed the house and then she wrote a poem dedicated to your magnificent, manly, massive man-meat. And then you cracked open another bottle of this gift from the Gods, grabbed the maid and banged her until she was cross-eyed, limping and speaking Swahili !!!!

    Oh yeah… where was I?

    Oh right, its a bloody good scotch, a little pricey, but worth it if you can afford it……..and best of all, Metrosexual Mangina’s hate it.

    All the bovine scatology aside, I’ve had a few bottles of this stuff and its bloody good!!!

    Go buy a quart of it now!!!!


    The Bastard!!!!!!

  • I think this is a fair review. Glenfiddich 18 is a very nice whisky, but with a bit of added effort could be a true flagship expression. Bump it up to 46% and drop the odious chill filtering, that would be a great start. Back in the day, Glenfiddich 18 at least used to be 43% until the bean counters insisted on coaxing a few more bottles out of each batch. I think most even passing whisky aficionados would be okay to pay $5-10 more to get a Glenfiddich 18 that really made a statement.