Thursday, November 21, 2013

New release - Glenfiddich 29 years old 'Spirit of a Nation'

The Spirit Of A Nation is a very special single cask bottling from the famous Speyside distillery of Glenfiddich.  It is 29 years of age and has been released to celebrate the brand's sponsorship of a charity 18-day expedition to the South Pole. The charity involved is Walking With The Wounded, who help and support UK military personnel who are injured during service. The Team Glenfiddich members, all of whom have been injured in action, have been joined by Prince Harry and have just started their adventure.

Glenfiddich is the most well known single malt brand and distillery in the world.  It sells the most Scottish single malt of anyone. The distillery is located in the Speyside town of Dufftown. The name is taken from the Fiddich glen, the valley in which it lies and translates as 'valley of the deer' from Gaelic. The distillery is massive - it has a capacity of 12 million litres per year, making it Scotland's largest single malt distillery. Glenfiddich remains one of Scotland's few remaining family owned distilleries and was constructed by William Grant in 1886/87. It remains owned by William Grant & Sons to this day.

The Spirit Of A Nation is exclusive to the UK market and has been matured for 29 years in a single ex-Sherry cask, before being transferred for three months in to a fresh American oak cask - this cask traveled around the UK and was signed by the public during events hosted by the Team Glenfiddich members, as shown in the short video below. It has been bottled at the natural cask strength of 48.8% ABV and there are just 200 bottles. These will be on sale shortly via selected specialist retailers with a recommended retail price of £1,000 each. All proceeds from sales of Spirit Of A Nation will go back to the charity.

Last week at the launch event in central London I was lucky enough to taste this special edition whisky.  I was also privileged to meet three inspirational members of Team Glenfiddich - Capt Guy Disney, Capt Ibrar Ali and Sergeant Duncan Slater.  For further information about the expedition and to follow the progress of Team Glenfiddich to the South Pole, please visit

Our tasting notes
The colour is a coppery golden yellow and the nose is packed with a mix of tropical fruit and wood spices.  There are expressive aromas of dried mango, caramelised pineapple, cinnamon bark and a hint of cedarwood (think of waxy furniture polish).  Other aromas come with time in the glass - gingerbread, honey, vanilla and toasted nuts, plus hints of orange and star anise.

On the palate, this whisky is viscous and mouth coating.  It feels rich and the initial notes are of sweet toffee and caramel.  The prominent notes from the nose then begin to come through, especially the tropical fruit and wood spice - the dried mango is particularly evident, along with a good pinch of cinnamon.  In addition other dried fruit characteristics are present (imagine raisins and candied orange peel), as are notes of vanilla and golden syrup.  With time an earthy ginger note adds warmth and depth, and this seems to increase with time.  A very late and distant hint of ashy smoke, reminiscent of dried tobacco leaves, finishes everything off.

The finish is long and warming.  The gingerbread note leads the way and is balanced by plenty of drying wood spice (cinnamon and nutmeg especially) and sweet, juicy dried fruits.  There are also hints of marmalade and faint cigar smoke.

What's the verdict?
The Spirit Of A Nation is a superb and highly complex whisky that demonstrates how good older whiskies can be.  The maturation mixes sympathetic use of the original ex-sherry cask with the innovative use of the fresh cask for a short period.  The old Glenfiddichs that we have been lucky enough to sample are usually of a high standard and this one is no exception.

It is also for a worthy cause and will raise plenty of money for Walking With The Wounded.  Glenfiddich have put their full marketing weight behind WWTW and this has helped substantially raise awareness of the charity both in the UK and across the world.  Hats off to Glenfiddich for that ...

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