Glenfiddich Select Cask Review

“Boring NAS Expression”

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenfiddich Select Cask (Cask Collection)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
ABV: 40 %

Colour: Light Amber

Nose: Young, Malty, Fruity and Sweet with Barley Sugar, Nuts, Buttered Toast, Dried Fruits, Vanilla, Toffee, Hay, light Sherry, light Honey, Toasted Oak, Apple, Pear, Berries, Orange - and Lemon Zest, light Spices and a hint of Milky Way bars. Some Floral tones after a while. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. It's not bad but although it does show some Aromas, I find it quite boring.   

Palate: Light, Young and Sweet with Apple, Pear, Berries, Malt, Lemon Zest,  Toffee, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Hay, light Honey, Raisins, Pepper, Cinnamon, Oak and Nutmeg.

Finish: On the short side with Vanilla, Toffee, Buttered Toast, Nuts, Dried Fruits, Orange- and Lemon Zest, Berries, Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon and a little Menthol.

The Glenfiddich Girls at the Reception in May 2014

I added a couple of drops of water and you get more Malt and Orchard Fruit on the Nose. It becomes Clean and Crisp, not unlike the 12 Years. But Palate and Finish do not accept the added Water very well. You can add some Water for Nosing purposes but better sip it Neat.

Rating: 81 

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 19.5 - Overall: 20.5

Glenfiddich in May 2014 during our Short Visit

General Remarks: The Glenfiddich (Gaelic for Valley of the Deer) Distillery was founded in 1886 by William Grant and is located in Dufftown. It's still owned by the Grant Family today and Glenfiddich is the world's best selling Single Malt. In 2013 the Distillery launched its first NAS Series. The "Cask Selection" consists of three Single Malts, all of them exclusively available in Global Travel Retail. They are the Select Cask, the Reserve Cask and the Vintage Cask. To create the Select Cask, the current Malt Master Brian Kinsman selected special casks (Ex-Bourbon, Ex-Sherry and Ex Red Wine) and married those casks in the famous Glenfiddich Solera Vat. The Select Cask costs around 50 US Dollars (2015) 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good 

Conclusion: You might argue that this Glenfiddich starts on the wrong foot. It's NAS and Travel Retail only. Not necessarily a guarantee for Top Notch Quality Single Malt. And indeed I have to admit that I'm not impressed with the Select Cask. When I make a comparison between the standard 12 Years and the Select Cask, I find the 12 Years Simple but also Crisp, Clean and Fruity. The Select Cask has the signature Pear as well but otherwise smells and tastes a bit young but already tired at the same time. It's not bad but awfully boring. I can not really recommend this. Better stay with the 12 Years!    

Jan van den Ende                                                             January 30, 2015

Glenfiddich 15 Years Solera Review

Country: Scotland
Region: Highland/Speyside
Brand: Glenfiddich (Solera)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years
ABV: 40 %

Colour: Amber/Copper. I suspect above average addition of E-150.

Nose: Typical Speyside Nose with Sherry, Malt, light Oak, Vanilla, Buttered Toast with Honey, Icing Sugar, Toffee/Caramel, Dried Fruits like Raisins and Apricots, Apricot Marmalade and hints of Cooked Fruits like Apples, Cherries and Pears and Fresh Fruit (Peaches). It's okay but somehow I had expected more. A bit simple for a 15 year old Single Malt. But that's to be expected when bottled at 40% only I suppose. What a pity! 

Palate: Sweet, smooth pleasant and dangerously drinkable. I get Sherry, Honey, Butterscotch, Pepper, Cinnamon, Malt, Toffee/Caramel, Orange Marmalade, Licorice and Fruit Cake.

Finish: Fairly short with Pepper, Cinnamon, Oak, Fruit Candies, Honey, Nuts, Malt, Licorice, Cocoa Powder, Grappa and a touch of Mint.

I added a couple of drops of water and you get more Malt, Honey and Peach on the Nose. Bit more of (slightly bitter) Oak on the Palate and in the Finish. Better sip this neat!

Rating: 84.5 

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 20,5 - Overall: 21

General Remarks: The Glenfiddich (Gaelic for Valley of the Deer) Distillery was founded in 1886 by William Grant. It's still owned by the Grant Family today and Glenfiddich is the world's best selling Single Malt. The 15 Years expression matures in Ex-Sherry, Ex-Bourbon and New Oak casks. Batches of them are then married in a huge Solera Vat, made at the Distillery from Oregon Pine and unique in the Scotch Whisky Industry. This Vat is always kept at least half full and the method is used to create a more complex whisky. The 15 Years costs between 35 and 50 US Dollars.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: There are two ways of looking at the Glenfiddich 15 in my opinion. On the one hand it's a great starter for newbies in Whisky land. It's sweet, pleasant  and highly drinkable. A perfect gift for beginning whisky drinkers as well. You can't go wrong with it. And it's relatively cheap! Good value for money no doubt. It's also a step up from the 12 Years. On the other hand, I was a bit disappointed by the Glenfiddich 15 personally. It's certainly a well crafted whisky but I had expected more. I can see why it's a crowd pleaser but in my opinion it lacks character and race. The Distillery is really playing for safe here. Understandable from a market leader point of view but regrettable if you (like me) believe that character, adventure and challenge make Single Malt whisky such an interesting spirit. 

Jan van den Ende              February 13, 2013          Update: January 27, 2015

Catto's 12 Years Deluxe Review

“Catto’s 12 Years beaten by its Younger Brother NAS in the Price Vs Quality Ratio“  

Country: Scotland 
Brand: Catto's Deluxe 
Produced by: James Catto & Co Ltd, Airdrie
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky 
Age: 12 Years
ABV: 40 %

Colour: Straw

Nose: Sweet and less aggressive when compared to the NAS. The probable higher Malt content and the longer maturation did their job. I find Citrus Fruit, Peach, Pineapple, Fresh Herbs like Parsley, Malt, Breakfast Cereals, Buttered Toast, Wax, light Wood, Coconut Shells, Toffee and light Vanilla. The Alcohol is hardly noticeable.

Palate: Light and Sweet Delivery with Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Nut Shells, Refill Oak, Straw, Grass, light Honey, light Vanilla, Lemon Zest and Wood Spices. This is quite a deception after the promising Nose.

Finish: Middle-Long and Sugary Sweet with Fruit Candies, Breakfast Cereals, light Vanilla, Toffee, Butter Biscuits, light Oak and a sprinkle of Pepper & Salt. 

Catto's 12 Years does not benefit from added Water. 

Rating: 79.5

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 19.5 - Overall: 20

Picture Credit: Catto's

General Remarks: The Brand can be traced back to 1861 when James Catto started blending Highland Malt - and Lowland Grain Whiskies in Aberdeen. It's still around and is nicknamed "The Artisan Blend". Today the Blend is created by Catto's Master Blender Stuart Harvey. The 12 Years is a Mature Version of the NAS Rare Old Blend and contains Malt - and Grain Whiskies from the Highlands, Speyside and the Lowlands that matured at least for 12 Years before being married. As we know, the heart of the NAS Rare Old Blend is formed by Single Malt Whisky from Balblair, Balmenach, Knockdhu, Pulteney & Speyburn. In all, the NAS Blend is said to contain 18 Single Malt - and 3 Grain Whiskies. Catto also produces a 25 Years. The 12 Years is sold at around 32 US Dollars. In the year 1990, Inver House Distillers bought the Brand Name but were not given the Recipe. 

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Conclusion: Catto's 12 Years Blended Scotch is not an expensive Whisky. But it's twice the price of the NAS Rare & Old Blend. Therefore I had expected more of it. It's starts off well enough with a Nose that is slightly better than the NAS. Quite Fruity, lots of Cereals and a nicely restrained Alcohol. But on the Palate and in the Finish it's Light, Thin and Sugary Sweet and simply misses Flavour. At this price level you will certainly find weaker whiskies than Catto's 12 Years. But I don't find sufficient Flavours and Aromas that would warrant Catto's 12 years a permanent place in my whisky cabinet. In fact, the NAS has a better Price Quality ratio. And that comes as a bit of a surprise!

Jan van den Ende                                                             January 27, 2015