The Glenfiddich 30 Years Old has officially returned to the US. It’s not every day that a whisky this old is introduced to the market, nor is it every day that I get to taste something quite this rare. This is undoubtedly a special whisky for a special occasion so it goes without saying I’m feeling a bit more excited than usual to review this one.
Most everyone who knows whisky knows Glenfiddich. It is the family-owned brand that single-handily pioneered the single malt category of Scotch whisky many years ago. To this day, it remains the best-selling brand of single malt whisky in the world and you will be hard pressed to find a bar or pub that does not carry the flagship Glenfiddich 12 Year Old. For many of us, that whisky once served as our gateway into the world of whisky and for me, a baseline for tasting all others.
Glenfiddich 30 Years Old is of course a very different whisky than the standard 12 Year Old we know and love. It’s matured for at least 30 years, it’s crafted with a higher proportion of Spanish Oak ex-Sherry casks and priced at around $700-$800 as opposed to $35-$40 for the 12 Year Old. It’s safe to say this is not exactly an everyday type of whisky for me. If the price tag wasn’t enough of an indicator, this meticulously crafted, leather-wrapped box complete with gold-plated stag emblem sure is. The packaging is beautiful and while my primary interest lies in the whisky itself, it’s worth pointing out that everything about this whisky “feels” special from the box to the bottle itself.
The whisky is matured for a minimum 30 years in a combination of both American and European Oak and bottled at 43% ABV. In the glass, it’s rich golden color suggests this is a predominately American oak-matured whisky with but let’s find out exactly what we have here.
On the nose, oh wow! A wonderfully rich and decadent aroma of toasted almond, toffee, and fig bursts from the Copita glass in my hand. The classic sherry notes of raisin, clove and cinnamon are in perfect harmony with what is clearly the spirit’s backbone; vanilla, carmel and over-ripened orchard fruits. It’s a very seductive, thought-provoking aroma and it doesn’t take long to realize there is something special here in this glass.
The aroma doesn’t scream “I am old” as much as “I am complete”. While the flavors are certainly indicative of an older whisky, it has a relatively vibrant character. Even at 43%, it’s very much alive in the air. I could nose this one for hours.
The palate is a further continuation of what I picked up on the nose; dried fruits, heavy baking spices and a bit more toasted oak comes through straight away. The balance between the European and American oak is wonderful and it now feels every bit of its age. If I were tasting this blind I would have guessed 21 years just based on the aroma. Once you allow the whisky to settle in the palate, however, it becomes very clear that this is in fact a whisky that has spent a full three decades in wood. The body is a bit thin, which is to be expected of a whisky bottled at a more common drinking strength, but the flavor is so rich that it doesn’t take much of anything away from the experience. It’s a very luxurious, seductive whisky that certainly lives up to what I would expect from something such as this.
The finish is quite an extraordinary one. Creamy orchard fruits and burnt orange peels fade out in a very dying, somewhat brittle conclusion. The flavor is really intense from start to finish and it takes every ounce of discipline from within my soul to refrain from pouring a second dram right away. A beautiful end to a whisky that most everyone can enjoy.
You know, I’ve been very fortunate to taste a lot of older whiskies over the past year. Older is by no means “better” but the opportunity to experience older whisky is one that I will never turn down. And fhere seems to be one thing within these rare tasting experiences that I tend to appreciate perhaps more than others. I love when a whisky has been put into wood for decades, is completely battered by tannins and humidity changes along the way, yet still comes out as an undeniable product of its own distillery. This is classic Glenfiddich in every way. When I taste it, I am immediately brought back to the experiences I’ve had with the 18 Year Old. Or even the 12 Year Old before it. It is of course a deeper and quite frankly, more awesome experience but it’s retained its true identity after all those years.
In conclusion, I love it. It’s a beautiful whisky that is so richly flavored and well-balanced that I never want it to end. If you love Glenfiddich or feel a bit of nostalgia for the brand, this is a must-try. And if you’re looking for something to commemorate a special occasion, look no further.