Origin: Speyside (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Icewine
Added coloring: No
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Average price: € 230.00
Official website: www.glenfiddich.com
Glenfiddich’s long history has already been covered by the Il Bevitore Squattrinato in his review of the 12yo, so in this introduction I will limit myself to a few words about the Experimental Series to which this important bottling belongs.
Launched in 2016 by the flair of master blender Brian Kinsman, the Experimental Series is a range of whiskies with innovative solutions and very distinctive finishes. The first bottling was the IPA (cask finish in India Pale Ale casks made in collaboration with a Speyside brewery), then Project XX (the result of a highly secret recipe obtained from the collaboration of 20 master blenders who drew heavily from the company’s precious reserves), the two batches of this Winter Storm and finally Fire & Cane (a blend of peated and unpeated whiskies aged in Bourbon casks with cask finish in rum casks).
But what is so special about Winter Storm compared to the others? It spent a good 21 years in Bourbon casks and then arrived in the bottle after six months of a truly exceptional cask finish in casks of precious Icewine from the famous Canadian producer Peller Estate.
Icewine is a special dessert wine made from grapes left to dry on the vine during the harsh winter frosts in Canada, France, Austria and, more recently, Italy. The main grapes used are Riesling, Vidal and Cabernet Franc.
The secret is to keep the grapes on the vine until the right frost temperature arrives, i.e. around -8 °C, but no less than that, otherwise the grapes would be damaged. The result of this drying in extreme conditions is that the water inside the berries freezes, allowing maximum concentration of the fruit and the preservation of a very strong acidic side: this means a wine with great freshness and drinkability, which balance an equally high sweetness and complexity.
The casks in which these wines are matured are generally made of French or American oak, and obviously collect a whole series of succulent “leftovers” left by the musts of these precious wines.
In presenting the whisky, Kinsman said that he believed that only a very old whisky would be able to withstand the intensity of the Icewine casks without breaking down too much.
In the glass, this second batch is very clear, slightly veined with gold. I therefore assume that it has no added colouring, but no precise information is given, nor about chillfiltration.
The nose is decidedly marked by hints of tropical fruit, a few ethereal hints of enamel, followed by a series of vinous notes of red fruit and dried flowers, curiously including dog rose.
The first sip is extremely delicate, almost elusive. The particular lychee note so much praised in the presentation notes does not stand out so much, there is a slight pepperiness, an elegant note of seasoned oak, but also some herbaceous hints of spicy root (ginger). From a certain point of view, this Winter Storm is fully representative of the Glenfiddich style (as Il Bevitore Squattrinato also notes in his review of the classic 12yo), but from this bottle you’d have expected a little more fireworks. The persistence is elusive and one cannot identify anything precise.
The finish is slightly astringent, peppery, and almost a little smoky, with a brief mineral flicker of flint.
For my part, the experience was unfortunately not entirely satisfactory. Tasted blind, it initially disappointed me across the board. After revealing the label, I decided to give it a second chance a few days later, so that I could better appreciate the elegance of the icewine notes and the great work done in bringing together two such special products.
But even the second try failed to win me over, much less convince me to spend over two hundred euros on this bottle. I can’t say it’s a wasted opportunity, but it’s an exercise in style for very few that returns a whisky that is perhaps elegant and refined, but really too evanescent and lacking in character.
Reviews of Glenfiddich whisky in the blog:
Glenfiddich 21yo Gran Reserva
Glenfiddich 23yo Grand Cru
Glenfiddich 26yo Grande Couronne
Glenfiddich Fire & Cane
Glenfiddich IPA Experiment