Glenfiddich Experimental Series
One great thing about having a brand with a lot of heritage, is that you have a wealth of historical resource to call upon. But one potential hindrance in this weight of heritage is a tendency to live in the past. The world’s most awarded Single Malt Whisky, Glenfiddich have challenged the category with a new approach, one that seeks to find new derivations of the Scotch whisky that has been the source of their family’s livelihood since 1887.
The Glenfiddich Experimental Series – spearheaded by Glenfiddich Master Distiller Brian Kinsman – was created with the objective of finding unusual and unexpected new variants. To achieve this Brian enlisted the collaborative expertise of trailblazers from the whisky world and beyond; the result is two new expressions of whisky, both as disparate in concept as they are similar in basis.
GLENFIDDICH IPA EXPERIMENT
The Glenfiddich IPA Experiment encompasses the brand’s ethos of ‘integrity’, choosing to partner with a local Speyside craft brewer rather than opting for a brewery with more established fame.
“The idea behind the Glenfiddich IPA Experiment was quite unusual but one we were quite passionate about – we wanted to play with the flavours to see what we could create. ”
~ Brian Kinsman
The result is a novel single malt whisky imbued with elements you would associate with a IPA, such as zesty citrus and tangy hops transferred through the oak casks that had previously housed a bold Speyside IPA.
But of course, creating the perfect “IPA Single Malt” isn’t a case of simply combining the Glenfiddich signature hues with just any IPA derivative, so Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman set about creating the perfect IPA to partner his single malt charge. Multiple brews and American Oak casks later, the required finish was created. The new Speyside IPA was kept in the oak casks allowing the flavour profile to truly set in before filling the casks back up with whisky to access the IPA hues.
The result was rare liquid, embodying the Glenfiddich signature, albeit with a zesty citrus note followed by soft, sweet vanilla and a hint of fresh hops.
GLENFIDDICH PROJECT XX
“Diversify your portfolio to reduce risk” investors will tell you, but in whisky terms a mêlée of casks can complicate the end product and dilute its resulting ‘personality’ – or so I thought. Rather than seeing this as a problem, Brian Kinsman saw the opportunity and invited 20 whisky experts – from 16 countries around the world – to explore and each select a cask from a warehouse at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown.
“It has the warm summer fruity character of a classic Glenfiddich but then its ‘multiple personalities’ are revealed as the flavours of candyfloss, cinnamon spice, almonds and rich port tannins kick in with the odd hint of liquorice.”
~ Brian Kinsman
It was Brian’s ambition to create a remarkable single malt, and remarkable is what he achieved, combining the collective intuition and knowledge of these 20 experts, accumulated through lives spent introducing single malts to whisky connoisseurs, enthusiasts and novices, around the globe.
“Taking part in the creative process of selecting the 20 casks that evolved into Glenfiddich Project XX was incredible. Brian has produced a one-of-a-kind whisky which is unmistakably Glenfiddich in style, but with the complexity and depth imparted by 20 different barrels of varying size, shape, wood type and origin.”
~ Struan Grant Ralph, Global Brand Ambassador, Glenfiddich
Project XX as it was called (pronounced ‘twenty’), is one of the most ambitious malt experiments in Glenfiddich’s 130-year history, with the final flavour profile exceeding even Brian’s expectations.
What is clear is through this experimentation and collaboration is that Glenfiddich have unearthed a whole new dimension for the Single Malt category, one that has scope for further growth and characterisation. Following Glenfiddich’s success, I hope this idea of experimentation becomes a permanent fixture; reinventing the category of single malt whisky iteration upon iteration. Wouldn’t that be great?
The Glenfiddich Experimental Series launched this September 2016 and is available from all good Whisky retailers.