top of page

Water of Life - Glenfiddich Grand Cru

Having lived on four continents and with a weak spot for a wee dram of good Scotch hardwired into my DNA, I have grown to appreciate certain brands that can be banked on to be on the menu of etablisssements off the beaten track.

While trips to Ulan Bator, Lhasa and the South of China are never not exciting and mind-blowing when it comes to mingling with the locals and seizing opportunities to try local fare and libations straight from the source, detecting a known and trusted Scot in the spirits section of a bar or an in-flight menu is always reminiscent of an instance of returning home.

The Speyside single malt powerhouse known as Glenfiddich is one of those global brands and given the fact that they have effectively shaped the modern single malt category as we know it, it is not further wondrous that their iconic stag logo is omnipresent on this earthround.

With Glenfiddich channelling its alchemy at a single distillery using their swan neck shaped pot still distillation process and a mash of malted barley that is cut after cask maturation with pure local Robbie Dhu spring water, a remarkable benchmark has been set in terms of consistency across their core range comprised of 12, 15 and their excellent 18 and 21 year old expressions. A benchmark of quality that has become part of the cultural narrative going as far as infiltrating the realm of pop cultural references, with e.g. David Horton from The Vicar of Dibley attempting to hide a bottle of Glenfiddich from his visitors in a bid to not waste “fine whisky” on them.

Now, the fact that the distillery’s approach has been refined over the decades and the resulting quality having become an expectation, has resulted in Glenfiddich following the axiom “cobbler, stick to your last”, i.e. the distillery deliberately avoided venturing too far outside the confines of the flavour profiles of their core expressions – not even with their experimental series:

Despite releasing delicious releases like the marriage of peated and malts matured in bourbon / Latin rum casks known as Fire & Cane and the zesty, citrussy and hoppy IPA variant along the fantastic Winter Storm, the punchiness of which really benefits from a higher ABV content - at the end of the day, neither of these were an overly exotic departure from what is easily identifiable as a “Glenfiddich”.

Given the aforementioned, I was excited to learn about the first expression that was going to herald the launch of their ‘Grand’ Series, i.e. the release of Grand Cru; a 23 year old whisky matured primarily in American Oak before enjoying a finish in French Cuvée wine casks.

With Glenfiddich recently pursuing an approach where they support trail blazers and innovative movers and shakers in the realm of fashion, business and cutting edge new initiatives at large, I was fortunate enough to sample the Grand Cru expression in different contexts over multiple days as part of e.g. Semi Permanent’s collaboration with Highsnobiety, which we covered, along with the 2021 incarnation of the Australian Fashion Week.

Given the nature and overarching concept of the ‘Grand’ series, the presentation of the new drop was Great Gatsby-esque in every meaning of the word – the question was if the drop was actually living up to the hype.

Now, as a start and contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a “champagne cask” as the secondary fermentation, which gives champagne its fizz, eventuates in the bottle after the wine has left the confines of its cask.

However, what was used to give the Grand Cru its premium finish are cuvée wine casks that previously held wines that would go on to become the sparkling variety.

Now, what is it like?

In essence, Glenfiddich has accomplished to marry the best of both worlds with the French cuvée casks adding an extra layer of complexity, which in that finessed form I have not tasted before in a whisky.

What tickles the nostrils on approach is a melange of honeyed almonds set against a backdrop of fruity and lemony highlights. Hints of vanilla blend in with subtly spicy notes, hints of ginger resting on a young oaky backbone underpinning it all.

What the nose promised, seamlessly materializes on the top of the mouth via a delightfully oily mouthfeel: Pears and apples sit on a foundation of yeast-leavened dough and vanilla, accentuated by tropical notes culminating in a crescendo of roasty hazelnuts, papaya and white pepper.

The elongated finish reverberates vibrantly on the spicy, citrussy and lemony end of the spectrum with oaky distinctions, brioche as well as the trademark Glenfiddich orchard and grape fruit notes shimmering through.

Summa summarum, if you are remotely into experimental flair, the Grand Cru is a well-crafted whisky living up to its name in terms of richness, decadence and one for special celebratory occasions or as an opulent gift.

A great introduction to the new series that sees Glenfiddich pushing the boundaries in creating exciting new flavours.


image from company website

June 19, 2021

bottom of page