Drink Magazine

Malt Nuts: Deconstructing Glenfiddich

By Josh Peters @TheWhiskeyJug

Malt Nuts Deconstructing Glenfiddich

On a recent Monday night, yes you read that right… Monday, the Malt Nuts gathered together once again to sip their way through another distillery. This time we set our sights on Glenfiddich. Though this time there was a twist and that twist was the presence of the Glenfiddich rep who eloquently, and animatedly, walked us through the deconstruction of the Glenfiddich 15.

The night started out like they usually do with kosher food, light conversation and a toast to our gracious host. After that, the night began. Jen walked us through how the Glenfiddich 15 is created and the solera process from beginning to end, after which we tried our hand at making something that could mimic the Glenfiddich 15 by blending the 3 whiskies listed below together.

Glenfiddich 15 Sherry Butt: 63%

  • Nose: Dried dark fruit, nutty, ashy and, malty with notes of citrus and cocoa. Dense and heavy aroma.
  • Palate: Dried dark fruit, spice cake, malt, vanilla, ash, nuts and cocoa.
  • Finish: Long -. Ash, nuts, malt and cocoa.
  • Overall: This one clocked in around the A- range and utterly floored me. Why Glenfiddich? Why don’t you just release this? It’s so good.

Glenfiddich 15 ex-Bourbon (first fill): 61%

  • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, malt, toffee, spice and lemon cake.
  • Palate: Caramel, vanilla, malt, toffee, spice, olde time candy and lemon cake.
  • Finish: Long -> Lemon cake, ash, vanilla, caramel and malt.
  • Overall: Dense and full this would have grabbed about a B+ and I wish it were a regular release.

Glenfiddich 15 Virgin Oak: 63%

  • Nose: Oak, malt, vanilla, caramel, toffee and cream soda.
  • Palate: Oak, malt, vanilla, caramel, toffee, spice, marshmallows and cream soda.
  • Finish: Long -> Malt, vanilla, oak and spice.
  • Overall: I liked this more than most folks there, but I also like bourbon more than most folks there. It was described as being more akin to an American single malt with its use of virgin casks, but if that’s true the color was all wrong. If it had spent 15 years in a new-charred oak barrel it would have been much darker though if it was only finished in the virgin oak that makes a lot more sense.

Malt Nuts Deconstructing Glenfiddich

The winning team was given the chance to try a special sample straight from the distillery which I think they got because there were only two of them. That way Jen didn’t have to give up as much of the precious hooch as if she had chosen a group of 4 as the winners… I’m of course kidding – congrats to Brian and Sherwin.


After that the rep left it was business as usual. Though unlike our typical tastings, which have a dozen or more expressions, this one only had 8 and that’s because there just aren’t very many indie Glenfiddichs out there. On the whole Glenfiddich hasn’t sold off casks to the private market because they need it to fuel their single malt lines.

Being the best selling single malt in the world means you need to have a lot of whisky on hand at all times. Though sometimes teaspooned casks do make their way out of the warehouses and into the hands of NDPs and that’s, most, of what we tasted that night.

Malt Nuts Deconstructing Glenfiddich

A: Glenfiddich 15 years Distillery Edition: 51% – Solera Cask

  • Nose: Orchard fruit, caramel, vanilla, malt, cocoa and a touch floral.
  • Palate: Rich orchard fruit, caramel, malt, spice, tropical fruit and cocoa.
  • Finish: Long -> Tropical and orchard fruit, toffee, malt and spice.
  • Overall: B+ (87-89) Decent presentation from aroma to aftertaste. Not insanely complex, but it’s bold and carries a decent balance.

B: Glenfiddich 10 years: 50.5% – 70s Crock

  • Nose: Malt, root beer spice, old bottle effect, anise-heavy spice, fruit, caramel, vanilla and ash.
  • Palate: OBE, vanilla, oaky, toffee, fruit, clay, spice, smoke and a bit of sweet malt.
  • Finish: Medium -> Ashy, smoky, spicy and fruity with a layer of OBE.
  • Overall: B (83-86) I knew there was an old 101 proof Glenfiddich in the mix and I guessed it was this one right away during the blind. Drink enough dusty whisky and the taste of OBE becomes unmistakable.

C: Glenfiddich 15 years Distillery Sample: ??% – Sherry Cask

  • Nose: Malt, caramel, touch sulfur, honey, fruit, pie crust, dark fruit sherry sweetness and a bit of “funk”.
  • Palate: Gunpowder, malt, dried dark fruit, honey, toffee, sherry sweetness, brittle, ash and cocoa.
  • Finish: Long -> Gunpowder (peppery sulfur), dark fruit, ash and dark sweets.
  • Overall: A- (90-92) I flirted with giving this one an A it was so good. The sherry popped right out of the glass on this one and it paired so well with the Glenfiddich spirit it makes me wonder why this isn’t a regular release… seriously Glenfiddich, WHY?

D: Blackadder “The Legendary” Glenfiddich 24 years (89-13): 54.7% – Hoghshead

  • Nose: Frosting sweetness, malt, lemon peels, spice, vanilla, waxy licorice and honeysuckle.
  • Palate: Malt, fruit, menthol, spice, vanilla, graham, licorice and honey.
  • Finish: Medium -> Malt, fruit, menthol and char.
  • Overall: C+ (77-79) Nothing seriously wrong with it, but it was rather light and uninteresting with a sharp alcoholic jab that knock it off balance.

E: Blackadder “The Legendary” Glenfiddich 22 years (89-12): 52.1% – Hogshead

  • Nose: Apples, pears, vanilla, toffee, malt and a bit of graham.
  • Palate: Fruit, dark sweets, malt, a bit of sherry sweetness and graham.
  • Finish: Long -> Fruit, dark sweets, vanilla and graham.
  • Overall: B- (80-82) Not a bad little whisky. Not incredibly interesting either, but it had a greater depth than D had and felt like a more robust whisky in comparison.

F: A.D. Rattray Glenfiddich 24 years: 52.1%

  • Nose: Burning plastic, malt, sharp acrid spice, dried fruit and a stale maltiness.
  • Palate: Burnt plastic, malt, sharp acrid spice, dried fruit, a stale maltiness and light notes of citrus and vanilla.
  • Finish: Medium -> Burning plastic, malt, acrid spice and dried fruit.
  • Overall: C- (70-72) Yikes, I did not like this one and it came across increadibly hot.

G: New Harmony “Wardhead” Glenfiddich 19 years (97-16): 50.5% – Hogshead

  • Nose: Heavy notes of malt, vanilla, smarties, citrus, cocoa and orchard fruit.
  • Palate: Heavy malt, rich buttery dark sweets, vanilla, ash, spice and cocoa.
  • Finish: Long -> Malt, dark sweets, vanilla and ash
  • Overall: B+ (87-89) Pretty good. It was in my top 3 along with A and C.

H: Glenfiddich Distillery Bottling: 56.9%

  • Nose: Dark sweets, fruit, honey, a touch coppery, malt and char.
  • Palate: Caramel, honey, fruit, malt, vanilla and… that’s about it.
  • Finish: Short -> Hot burst of dark sweets, fruit, vanilla and malt.
  • Overall: B- (80-82) This one drank a bit hot. It wasn’t overly exciting and the heat from the alcohol was a bit distracting, but something that still had merit.

Malt Nuts Deconstructing Glenfiddich

I touched on it a bit above, but the reason these can’t be called Glenfiddich and instead carry names like “Wardhead” or “The Legendary” is because these casks have been teaspooned. This is the same reason they can’t be called single malts and are instead listed as blended malts.

In the case of  Glenfiddich it is often teaspooned with Balvenie which is why on Blackadder bottles the Cask Reference is GB for Glenfiddich teaspooned with Balvenie. If you see it as BG then it’s the other way around.

As always it was a fun night of food, friends and whisky. I hope you enjoyed reading about this Glenfiddich based whisky experience and until next time, Cheers!

Malt Nuts Deconstructing Glenfiddich

Malt Nuts: Deconstructing Glenfiddich
Malt Nuts: Deconstructing Glenfiddich
Malt Nuts: Deconstructing Glenfiddich
Malt Nuts: Deconstructing Glenfiddich
Malt Nuts: Deconstructing Glenfiddich
Malt Nuts: Deconstructing Glenfiddich
Malt Nuts: Deconstructing Glenfiddich
Malt Nuts: Deconstructing Glenfiddich

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