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Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Whisky

Review: Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Single Malt  81/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted March 06, 2014

Glenfiddich is credited by most whisky writers as being the distillery which brought Single Malt Scotch Whisky into prominence after World War II. According to Michael Jackson in his wonderful publication, Scotland and its Whiskies (pages 101-103, Copyright Duncan Baird Publishers, 2001), the independent operators of the distillery began to produce and sell their whisky with an emphasis on the Single Malt expression rather than depending upon selling their whisky to blenders. The result of this foresight is that Glennfiddich is now the most popular (by sales) producer of Single Malt whisky with a market share which accounts for over 30 % of world-wide sales. The flagship whisky of the brand is their 12 Year Old Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky.

The 12-year-old expression is a Single Malt Whisky produced from a blend of stocks which were aged in American bourbon and Spanish Sherry oak barrels. I received a sample bottle of the Glenfiddich 12 Year Old just prior to Christmas, and I decided to share the results of my examination here on my website.

Important Note: In June of 2013, Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch announced that $2.00 from every bottle sold of the older Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Solera Whisky in Canada would be donated to benefit Canadian Forces Members as part of their continued support for Wounded Warriors Canada. This program is ongoing and I have been informed that as of the end of 2013, $161,616 have been raised for Wounded Warriors Canada through these $2.00 donations. Founded in 2006, Wounded Warriors Canada is a non-profit organization that helps Canadian Forces Members (be they full-time members or reservists) who have been wounded or injured in their service to Canada.

Glenfiddich_8321_Original.tifIn the Bottle 4.5/5

Whisky producers from Scotland have figured out the importance a good presentation. The handsome green bottle and canister make an appealing display upon one’s whisky shelf.

The word, ‘Glenfiddich’ translates from Gaelic to mean something close to ‘Valley of the Deer’. Thus the word Glenfiddich serves as the inspiration for the deer head logo which sits atop the Glenfiddich name, and serves to make the appearance of the bottle and the canister even more professional and stylish.

In the Glass 8/10

When I pour the malt whisky into my glencairn glass, I see that it displays itself as a pale gold liquid. When I tilt and twirl that glass, the whisky crest which forms inside drops slender legs which trail down at a moderate pace.

The nose is not nearly as complex as I was hoping as the breezes above the glass have an overt grassy aroma with only mild woody scents of sanded poplar and sandalwood sprinkled within. As the glass breathes I sense impressions of some lowland sawgrass, a few crushed gooseberries, and fruit-like hints of spicy raisin as well as sliced green apples and pears. Over time the air above the glass develops more of an herbal quality with indications of lemon balm and heather.

In the Mouth 49/60

The delivery carries a welcome bit of wood and grass spiciness with flavours of lemon grass and citrus zest leading out in front. I also taste some tart gooseberry and dry raisins. There is a sweetness apparent upon second sipping which reminds me of canned pears, but there is also an underlying ‘punky’ quality of lightly fermented (or perhaps bruised) apples and pears which I find unappealing.

Mt thoughts are that the whisky has not really challenged nor rewarded me in any significant way. I feel a sense of disappointment, and that underlying sweet punkiness which is now growing with each sip is perhaps persuading me that the Glenfiddich 12-year-old is for my purposes anyway, more of a mixer than a sipper.

In the Throat 12/15

The exit is short and to the point with sweet flavours of canned fruit (pears) accented by spicy white pepper. Although very smooth, the whisky continues to display a lack depth and complexity, and I feel there was not a sizable reward in finishing my glass.

The Afterburn 8/10

The Glenfiddich 12 Year Old is a simplistic dram which seeks to be smooth and inoffensive. However, at this point in my spirit journey, I believe I require more depth and more challenge when I sip whisky in the evening.

The spirit is probably a very good entry point for someone new to Single Malt Whisky; but for someone like myself who is well upon the path, I would suggest that the Glenfiddich 15 Year would be much more satisfying.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe:

SAM_1027 Mamie TaylorThe Mamie Taylor Cocktail

2 oz Glenfiddich 12 Year Old
2 oz Q Ginger (Ginger Ale)
1 1/2 oz Q Soda (Club Soda)
1/2 Lime (fresh squeezed)

Add the Ice-cubes to a Collins glass
Pour the Whisky over the ice
Add Ginger Ale, Soda and Lime juice
Stir and garnish with a lime slice

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


I am always asked what my numbers actually mean. In order to provide clarification, you may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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