Single Malt

A Glenfiddich Night for the Ages

Sometimes I’m in the right place at the right time.

Or I’m just lucky.

I recently attended a Glenfiddich tasting at the Bourbon House in New Orleans. Glenfiddich ambassadors Dave Paradice and Struan Grant Ralph led the tasting of four Glenfiddich expressions that heavily feature ex-bourbon barrel-maturation. Just before the tasting started, I met up with the two brand ambassadors to say hi.

Jorge Lauriano, the William Grant & Sons Division Manager for Louisiana, came over to greet me. Then he lowered his voice and asked what my plans were for the rest of the night. It’s that moment he told me he, Paradice, and Ralph were going to host a very private tasting with two local single malt fanatics after the Bourbon House tasting.

“I just dropped off 27 different bottles of whisky (at a local restaurant). Do you want to join us?” Lauriano asked, knowing I couldn’t turn down his invitation.

My answer was a resounding yes. I knew at that moment it was going to be an epic whisky night.

But first, the Glenfiddich tasting at the Bourbon House. Four expressions: Glenfiddich 12-year-old, 14-year-old, 19-year-old Age of Discovery bourbon cask, and a preview of an upcoming 23-year-old expression. The last two were especially delicious. Paradice was on-point with his presentation, with Ralph occasionally fielding questions from the small but sometimes rowdy crowd.

If this wonderful tasting was the supporting act, what followed was the headliner.

We made our way to the restaurant where the six of us began lining up bottles of whisky, mostly Glenfiddich, on a long table. Twenty seven bottles in total. So many that we couldn’t line up the bottles neatly down the longside of the table. With some appetizers served, we began. We did a round robin, of sorts, allowing every person to choose the next pour. As we nosed and tasted, the two brand ambassadors casually presented background on every pour.

Nose, taste, dump, repeat. That was the motto of the night.

I didn’t take tasting notes, but did somehow manage to jot down what we tasted. Here’s what we tasted, with some thoughts on select pours:

  • 15-year-old
  • Reserve Cask (travel exclusive)
  • Cask of Dreams 2011 – love the ex-bourbon cask influence here
  • 18-year-old
  • Rich Oak
  • 14-year-old
  • Malt Master – one of the group favorites
  • Fire & Cane – Smoky with rum-sweetness. Yes please!
  • Vintage Cask – slightly peated and utilizes American oak casks
  • William Grant & Sons Ghosted 26-year-old – very light; paired well with our salad
  • Age of Discovery 19-year-old bourbon casks
  • 40-year-old – decadent, resinous, dark, with a finish that lasts for days
  • Winter Storm – a dessert dram if there ever was one
  • The Original 1963
  • Vintage Cask – Select Barrel
  • 26-year-old
  • Kinnivie 23-year-old
  • 30-year-old – Rich, lively, and without the heavy rancio notes found in the 40yr
  • Vintage Cask 36-year-old (1978) – one of the top pours of the night
  • Project XX – nicely balances the different cask types used

One thing that struck me was the balance of flavors through all the expressions we sampled. Nothing was ever one-sided. Those sherry notes were never overpowering. That Glenfiddich signature vanilla and orchard fruit character always remained at the core.

We didn’t make it through all 27 bottles. Twenty seemed to be our limit. No matter – this Herculean tasting was one of those ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ events, and one I’ll remember for a very long time.

Thanks to everyone for allowing me to take part in a such special tasting and for sharing your whisky knowledge. Especially Jorge. He’s an extremely generous guy who loves nothing more than sharing a great drink (and a dirty joke or two) with people. Thanks for an unforgettable whisky night. Slainte!

Review: The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Back from a little break with a look at this affordable single malt Irish whiskey – The Sexton. Made from 100% Irish malted barley and triple distilled on the North Coast of Ireland (presumably Bushmills), the Sexton is matured for four years in ex-Oloroso sherry casks. For the $27.99 asking price, that’s a steal.

But how does it taste?

On the nose, a slight grassy note is helped along with dried fruit and almond. Not as much ‘green’ on the palate, thankfully. The sherry casks really come into play here, providing hints of berries, cloves, cocoa. There’s an undercurrent of sweet malt running through the entire palate. Not utterly complex, but what’s there is quite enjoyable. The finish maintains the fruit notes found in the palate, with the slightest touch of spice.

I didn’t know what to expect with this whiskey, given the price tag and young age. I’ve gotta say, it’s quite impressive. The sherry casks make up a large part of Sexton’s flavor profile, which means a fruity, nutty, and slightly sweet whiskey. Bonus points for the cool looking, hexagonal black bottle.

The Sexton touts itself as an everyday dram. I agree with that statement. A couple of fingers in a rocks glass (minus the rocks – we’re at 40% ABV here) is what this whiskey is made for. Recommended.

8/10

Thesexton.com

Thanks to The Sexton for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: The Macallan Classic Cut (2018)

I like Macallan.

Let me rephrase – I like whiskies from Macallan.  What I don’t care for is their pricing, which seems geared for the luxury collector instead the whisky drinker.  But, that’s a rant for another time.

So it was with great surprise that I saw this 2018 edition of The Macallan Classic Cut for about $100 on the shelf.  Given that their lovely 18-year-old is inching closer to the $300 mark, I know this NAS release is going to be comprised of mostly young whiskies.  And that’s not a bad thing.  It’s just something to be mindful of… setting expectations, so to speak.

Classic Cut is bottled at 51.2% ABV, a big jump from the 43% ABV of Macallan’s standard releases.  Only sherry-seasoned casks were used in this release.  Based on the color, my guess is most of those casks are refill sherry casks.

The nose features macerated orange, vanilla, and waxy malt, with a tinge of toasted oak. Gone are the dark, heavy sherry notes I equate with Macallan.  Instead, because of those young whiskies used in this bottling, the nose is more vibrant, as is the palate.  The high ABV delivers a burst of wonderful strawberry jam, orange peel, and vanilla.  A bit of spice develops about halfway through, as does a young malt note.  The medium-length finish leaves lingering notes of spiced fruit and spice.  No need for water here, as this Macallan is easily drinkable.

Macallan Classic Cut delivered almost exactly what I expected – a big, vibrant, fruity malt.   I was a bit surprised at the amount of citrus, but liked what I tasted.  I don’t expect to dissect this whisky in a Glencairn glass.  Where it lacks complexity, Classisc Cut makes up for it in delivery of flavor.  That said, I’d LOVE to taste a high proof Macallan with a little more age.  As far as what’s in the glass, I’d give this one a recommendation.  7.5/10