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Glenfiddich 15 Year

Review: Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Single Malt 90.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted January 7, 2010

The 15 Year Old  Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky utilizes a  Solera aging system which has no counterpart in the world of  Scotch whisky. The whisky is a blend of aged malts which were independently aged in three different types of  oak casks.  Some of the malt blend is previously aged in reused American bourbon oak; some is previously aged in reused Spanish sherry oak; and some is aged in new virgin oak.  The blended single malt is then aged for a final time in a large Solera vat, reputedly made of Oregon pine. This solera vat is never emptied.  When whisky is drawn from the vat, it is always left at least half full.  This means that there is always a small  portion of the whisky in the vat getting older and older.   The whisky drawn from the vat  is allowed to settle in a Solera tun for a period prior to bottling.

This aging technique is reminiscent of the manner in which brandy and cognac are aged, but the use of a pine pipe is very original, and I was rather pleased with myself as I noted a piny flavour haunting this whisky in my tasting notes prior to doing this research.

In the Bottle 5/5

I love the care and attention to detail which the Scottish display in the presentation of their Single Malt whiskies.  The tin sleeve,  which houses the 15 year old Glenfiddich, is a brilliant copper colour which shares the contours of the Glenfiddich whisky bottle.  Inside the sleeved container is a nice black booklet which contains information regarding the core line up of the Glenfiddich Scotch Whiskies.  The bottle and label are distinctive and stylish, and the final piece of the puzzle is the high quality corkage.  A perfect Presentation.

In the Glass 9/10

The liquid in the glass is copper coloured with amber flashes.   Swirling the whisky inside reveals only traces of oil on the sides of the glass, but it does induce oak and honey aromas to strike my nose along with citrus fruit and mild licorice.    The nose is rich, with a typical Highland spiciness.   A light touch of alpine meadow forest rises from the glass as well with a persistent floral nature which is appealing.

In my Mouth 53/60

The Glenfiddich 15 year old  feels soft on the tongue, yet it is has a spicy pep and is full of flavour.   Oak is at the forefront, doing a nice little tango upon my palate with honey, butterscotch, and vanilla.  Light, lemony  citrus notes and some hot cinnamon sit in the background adding depth to the profile.  There is something very exotic clinging to the taste buds as well, almost like an old fashioned ginger snap cookie.   This is a rich and vibrant flavour profile with excellent balance.  The only element which is perhaps a little too aggressive is the woody oak  which has hints of  a  spicy alpine flavour at the very back of the profile.   Considering the pine Solera aging vat which houses the whisky for part of its life, this is not surprising.

In The Throat 14/15

This has a long finish, full of spice and toffee.  Hints of bourbon and heather trace their way down my throat with a light hint of juniper right at the very end.  Complexity and balance!

The Afterburn 9.5/10

This is a huge step up from the Glefiddich 12.  Extremely complex with well crafted balance.  Just about a perfect Highland Malt.

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


Suggested Cocktail

Alpine Meadows 

1 oz      Glenfiddich 15
1/2 oz Tangeray #10 Gin
1/2 oz Triple Sec

Build on one ice cube in a glen cairn glass

Garnish with a small wedge of lime.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide 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 more 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)


3 Responses to “Glenfiddich 15 Year”

  1. The Glenfiddich 15 is actually superior to the 18yrs.

    By the way, Glenfiddch has dropped reference to the ‘solera’ blend in its latest packaging. Not sure why. Maybe they are no longer utilizing that process.

    • I am by no means sure of this, but my understanding is that the Oregon Pine pipe still finishes the whiskey in the same way, I believe the reference to the word solera was dropped on the label because the method they are using to age the whisky is not a solera method in the strictest sense. (The Scots are sticklers for accuracy in labeling their whisky.)

  2. […] The Rum/Whisky Howler Blog enjoys the “light touch of alpine meadow forest” rising from the nose, and the balanced spiciness. […]

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