Tasting Whisky in Detroit With Glenfiddich
Glenfiddich recently held a single malt training at the Detroit Historical Museum, a cultural institution that pays tribute to the city’s rich history, from its beginnings as a fur trading post to the race riots to the reviving metropolis it is today. As a novice Scotch whisky drinker who prefers her liquors clear (or red, as in wine), this was the type of “boot camp” to whip my taste buds and Scotch appreciation into shape. The drill sergeant: Glenfiddich brand ambassador David Allardice, a Texan by way of Scotland (imagine that accent!). The tasting gave us some new notes on how to serve and enjoy Scotch, so we’ll be ready for battle, er, cocktail parties.
We started off with a tasting of Glenfiddich’s Excellence 26 Year Old, which was recently released in the U.S. with a very limited supply. Allardice called this one “special,” and it didn’t disappoint. Now that we’ve tasted the best, it was all downhill from here, right? Allardice says age doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best, but with its $499 retail price tag and exceptional taste, I'm going out on a limb to say it’s pretty damn good. Matured in bourbon casks throughout the maturation process, this whisky has rich flavors of vanilla, oak, and spice. The finish is deep and complex — a delight on the palate.
There was a full range of whiskies to try, including 12, 15, 18, and 21 Year Olds. As a new and eager Scotch recruit, I dove in.
Glenfiddich 12 Years Old: The brand’s signature single malt. It had a fresh, fruity nose after hanging out for a long time in American and Spanish oak casks. With a little bit of sweetness and a lot of sharpness, this "young" Scotch benefited from a drop of water to open it up.
Glenfiddich 15 Years Old: This is Allardice’s favorite, and it is more balanced and goes down easy. This layered malt features rich fruit and notes of spice and honey. The casks will impart the distinctive flavors, Allardice says, and this is matured in three types of oak casks: sherry, bourbon, and new oak. It’s then married in a Solera vat, a process unique among Scotch distilleries, usually reserved for sherry production.
Glenfiddich 18 Years Old: A connoisseur’s Scotch. If you like smoky, this one’s for you. The complex character and mellowness are thanks to the long years in sherry and bourbon casks. It’s smooth with hints of spiced apple and cinnamon — think of the glorious aromas of apple pie.
Glenfiddich 21 Years Old: If you’re ending your meal with a sweet treat, this one will pair well. Finished off in casks that once housed rum, it has an intense, sweet aroma on the nose with a complex and long ending.
The tasting celebrated the brand’s rich history. Here’s a little trivia for you: On Christmas Day, 1887, the first drop flowed from the distiller’s copper stills, fulfilling a longtime dream for Scotch distiller and entrepreneur William Grant. To this day, Glenfiddich remains independently owned by the fifth generation of the same pioneering family.
Being among the most revered single malt Scotches in the world is not a bad family legacy to pass down.