Monday, August 09, 2010

The One That Started It All

Glenfiddich was the dram that started it all. The single malt revolution began in the fifties and sixties when William Grant & Sons expanded their production of the drink, and introduced advertising campaigns, a visitors' centre and from 1961 packaged the Scotch in distinctive triangular bottles. For many young men (and it was mostly men then) setting out on their lifelong whisky journey. Glenfiddich was the dram of choice. It was revolutionary.

At the Glenfiddich tasting held in Uisque Beatha brand development manager Andrew Torrance and Jamie Milne, the UK Brand Ambassador, took us through half a dozen of the range.
Andrew asked first for club members to describe Glenfiddich. Accessible, approachable, simple were among the terms used and reinforced members' views that, even if it is the best selling single malt in the world, it probably got there by the strength of marketing rather than any complexity of the malt.
We tried the 12, 18, 21, 15 and Rich Oak, in that order and finished with what many felt was the dram of the night - a cask strength seven year old which proved age isn't everything. At 59.4% this seemed to me to be the sort of stuff Glenfiddich should be producing.
The new run-finished 21-year-old met with a mixed response. Some liked it, others thought it was the least best(!) dram of the night. Club secretary Andy  felt that the range was stronger than he remembered but there was nothing that struck him as fantastic or one that he would consider buying. He added: “The Rich Oak was a great dram and stood out from the range but again I doubt I’ll be buying a bottle. I am very interested in the future non-coloured and non chill-filtered releases as I feel that this is the way forward for the brand but they still have a lot of work to do.”
 Jarkko mentioned the malt was revolutionary when it was introduced to the world and it seemed to me, at least, that perhaps Glenfiddich has been playing safe since then. The range is good, with the older the better, but perhaps we need more of the single casks.

Mark agrees. He said: “They are still too heavily into mass-market appeal and need to get more one-offs and experiments into the marketplace. But it sounds like they might be heading that way with the limited release coming out this year. They need to come out of their comfort zone without doing a Bruichladdich.”
Having said all that, of course, taste is highly subjective and the venerable Glenfiddich is still the top award-winning whisky across the globe in blind tastings. It pumps out excellent, straightforward whiskies, which are carefully made. And it remains the world’s favourite single malt Scotch whisky. So that’s us telt!