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.