Slowly but surely we move on up (and down) the rather large collection of Glenfiddichs, the mother of all malts. Earlier we’ve already covered the 12yo “Special Reserve” (80 Points), the 15yo “Solera Reserve” (82 Points) and the 15yo “Distillery Edition” (83 Points). The odd one out was a Vintage 1974 (91 Points) bottled for the nice people of La Maison Du Whisky in Paris, France. This time around we’ll up the age again and move from 15yo up to 18yo and with that, we arrive at a bottle that was married in small batches. The latest offering of this bottle is now called Small Batch Reserve, maintaining the 18yo age statement.
Color: Full gold
Nose: Malty, waxy (like in old bottles), and very fruity. A fruit mish-mash since no specific fruit is discernable. A vegetal and new wood smell. Nice and elegant. Dusty but also creamy. Nice combination between vanilla and the waxyness I mentioned before. Not overly complex for a malt of this age, but it does have great balance and is well made around good maltiness, the wax and the fruit.
Taste: Waxy and lots of woody notes. Wood, oak, cardboard and just the right amount of bitterness. Next toffee, caramel, creamy not sticky nor sweet. Hints of the wax is in here too. Malt and old cellar notes. Peanut skins and maybe walnut skin bitterness right at the back of my tongue. Vanilla, but typical vanilla you get from American oak. Definitely a Glenfiddich with some (wooden) balls. OK at 40% and definitely is presented as an old (18yo) malt. Like the nose, this is not overly complex, but very drinkable (even with this wooden bite). This lacks the fruit I got in the 15 Distillery Edition, and lacks the acidity I got from both 15yo’s. This is definitely older and spicier (like it should) and placed in the range as such. Despite the oak, this has a short finish.
Often scuffed at and I never got that. Even if it would taste lots worse than it actually does, I still love the history and the pioneering work done by this malt. But it doesn’t taste bad, and it is pretty good stuff. Why does it have a bit of a reputation then? Sure the 12yo is pretty simple, and most of them are bottled at the lowest strength possible. Most anoraks prefer “the other” Grant brand Balvenie. Yes it’s not complex, but very enjoyable nevertheless and very inexpensive to boot.
For Tony, Mr. Glenfiddich!