Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New release - Glenfiddich 'Age of Discovery'

The Age of Discovery is a new release from the famous Speyside distillery of Glenfiddich.  The bottling was originally released at this time last year, but exclusively to the travel retail/Duty Free market - now it gets a full general release.  The Age of Discovery is bottled at 19 years of age (Glenfiddich's first ever whisky at this age) and has been matured predominantly in ex-bourbon American oak casks.  However, it has also been matured in ex-Madeira wine casks, which is also a Glenfiddich first.

Glenfiddich is the most well known whisky distillery and single malt brand in the world. It sells the most Scotch single malt of anyone, and by a mile. The distillery is located on the outskirts of the town of Dufftown in the Speyside region of Scotland. The name is taken from the Glen Fiddich, the valley in which it lies and translates as 'valley of the deer' from Gaelic. The distillery is massive and has a capacity of 10 million litres per year, making it Scotland's largest distillery.  Glenfiddich remains one of Scotland's few remaining family owned distilleries and was constructed by William Grant in 1886.  It remains owned by William Grant & Sons to this day.

The Age of Discovery name draws inspiration from the Madeira casks in which the whisky has been part-matured.  The name links to the 15th century Portuguese explorers, who led the original 'age of discovery' by pioneering trading routes with India, Thailand, Malaysia and China. These epic journeys are depicted on the elaborate packaging, which also boasts a smart black bottle.  The Age of Discovery is bottled at 40% ABV and is available now from various specialist liquor retailers at a recommended price of £90.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is highly scented with a number of delicious, fragrant  aromas.  This is full of sweet caramel sugars, wood spices (think of cinnamon and nutmeg) and tangy citrus notes, which are reminiscent to dried orange peel (very similar to marmalade).  Underneath are aromas of vanilla, honey, a hint of floral honeysuckle and a pleasant whiff of musty earth.

On the palate, this whisky is delicious but has two contrasting set of characteristics which end up combining very well.  At times it feels rich and sweet, and yet at other times it feels delicate and fragile with a lovely surprising subtly.  Let's begin with the richer, sweeter elements - these include sweet fudge, butterscotch, brown sugar, orange zest, honey and vanilla.  The more subtle, delicate notes combine superbly and include some gentle, soft dried fruits (imagine sultanas, fig, pear and apple), uplifting wood spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, plus a slight vegetal/herbal edge - we couldn't quite put our finger on it, but someone around us at the tasting said sage.

The finish is slightly on the short side, given the richer notes present on the palate, and this is slightly disappointing.  However, the quality of the whisky is evident as the wood spices come more to the fore and the marriage with the sweeter notes is again very good.

What's the verdict?
Glenfiddich have done well with the Age of Discovery - it is a lovely single malt whisky and one which is worth trying.  Rarely have we sampled a whisky that has such a fragrant and tempting nose, that then follows that promise up on the palate and also somehow combines the rich, sweet elements with the more delicate, subtle ones in such a positive way.  This makes the Age of Discovery one of the more impressive cask finished whiskies that we have tried to date. Delicious.

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