Glenfiddich is the most famous whisky distillery and brand in the world. The distillery is located on the outskirts of the town of Dufftown in the Speyside region. The name is taken from the Glen Fiddich, the valley where it lies and translates as 'valley of the deer' from Gaelic. This reference led to the origin of Glenfiddich's famous stag logo. The site has grown to be massive and has a capacity of 10 million litres per year – this makes it Scotland's largest distillery. It has a staggering 29 stills, 45 warehouses for maturation and its own cooperage, coppersmith and bottling centre.
A whisky innovator
Glenfiddich's world domination of the single malt market is due to their continued innovation. They were the first distillery to consistently bring single malt whisky to the international market in the early 1960s, the first single malt to be sold in an airport travel retail shop in 1963 and the first to open a visitor centre in 1969. Following their successes, other distilleries followed their strategies. Now, Glenfiddich is sold in nearly every country and accounts for nearly 35% of all single malt sales in the world. Many argue that without Glenfiddich’s innovation, the whisky market would not be what it is today.
Glenfiddich is unusual as it is a family owned business. The distillery is owned by the same family that established it - William Grant began construction of the Glenfiddich distillery in 1886 and William Grant & Sons was formed in 1903. They cannot have imagined the massive success that it would become. The distillery is currently owned by the fifth generation of the Grant family. They also own Balvenie, which was built on neighbouring land in 1892, and Kininvie, which was also built nearby in 1990. Unlike many other distilleries, 90% of all whisky produced at Glenfiddich is bottled as single malt.
Our tasting notes
The colour of this Glenfiddich 18 years old is a light golden yellow and the nose is fresh, vibrant and promising. There is obvious vanilla, oak and malted barley to begin with and these are complimented by other aromas - fresh green fruit (think of pears and apples), dried fruit (imagine sultanas), citrus peel (especially oranges), dried grasses (or hay) and a whiff of ashy smoke. On the palate, this whisky feels soft and velvety and has a clear sherry cask influence. There are elements of sultana, raisin, candied orange peel and wood spice (think of cinnamon and nutmeg). Other characteristics present include cereal grains, nuts (imagine a creamy nut like almonds and hazelnuts), vanilla and plenty of honey. The finish is clean, fresh and pleasantly long with the honey, dried fruits (especially the candied orange peel) and warm spices prominent.
What's the verdict?
Glenfiddich 18 years old is a very pleasant and easy drinking whisky. It is soft and approachable yet with extra complexity compared to the more readily available younger expressions. This is a whisky to treat yourself with and also offers very good value in comparison to its 18 years old competitors. A bottle should cost you around £45 and should be found in larger supermarkets and specialist whisky or liquor stores. It's well worth a try for the price and it is easy to see why Glenfiddich whisky is so popular throughout the world.