Review: Glenfiddich Grand Cru 23 Years Old
Recently, Glenfiddich dropped its latest expression with minimal fuss or fanfare, though it’s got quite the pedigree: A 23 year old single malt finished in “French cuvee casks,” which I’m told is the barrel that holds the wine before it goes into the bottle to become Champagne.
I’ll let Glenfiddich do the introductions:
Today, Glenfiddich, the World’s Most Awarded Single Malt Scotch Whisky, challenges convention once again as it reimagines celebrations with Grand Cru. An exclusive expression that’s been matured for 23 years and elegantly finished in rare French cuvée casks, the new offering fuses together the finest flavors from Scotland and France to create a true taste of luxury made to be enjoyed with others.
Through the art of experimentation, the remarkably rich whisky, already intense in flavor thanks to long maturation in American and European oak casks, is finely finessed with influences from French cuvée casks. Every drop of Grand Cru is the result of up to six months finishing time, adding new layers of luxury with a myriad of aromas, from apple blossom to candied lemon and freshly baked bread. Rich vanilla, sweet brioche, sandalwood, pear sorbet and white grape build a beautiful harmony of flavors on the palate; enhanced by a long, opulent finish. Daring and unexpected, Grand Cru encapsulates the rich spirit of innovation and craftsmanship of Glenfiddich with the celebratory and indulgent character of sparkling wine.
“Breaking category conventions once more, this unusual collaboration presented an exciting opportunity to create a liquid that further proof points our spirit of experimentation,” said Glenfiddich Malt Master, Brian Kinsman. “This is the only Glenfiddich single malt to undergo this exceptional finishing in French cuvée casks that once contained the liquid that goes on to become some of the world’s most extraordinary sparkling wines. We experimented to find the optimal maturation and finishing times, and hand selected the right balance of 23-year-old Glenfiddich casks out of our unique collection of old age malts. Marrying the best of both worlds, the final liquid is exquisite and a special tribute to each individual cuvée cask the malts were finished in.”
“Grand Cru exemplifies the brand’s passion for pushing Scotch whisky boundaries,” said Tracie Franklin, US Ambassador, Glenfiddich. “People immediately associate fine sparkling wines with celebratory, social moments. We set out to craft an expression that honors this, while bringing the substance and smoothness of single malt Scotch whisky. The result is Grand Cru – a liquid that bears the hallmark of quality and innovation associated with the brand and is a true testament to our innate maverick spirit.”
The sleek black glass bottle with its gold Grand Cru print and evocative golden closure are presented in an opulent black box featuring a sparking golden firework design, created to evoke the spirit of celebration and the true taste of luxury contained within.
On to the tasting!
On nosing the whisky, one doesn’t get the impression of anything wine-related but rather bourbon, the cask type which Grand Cru seemingly has spent the longest amount of time. That said, it’s delightful, a well-aged, simmered-down Speyside with beautiful aromas of breakfast cereal, brown butter, and a bit of bubble gum.
The palate picks up the pace a bit with a slight note of pepper and subtle fruit, simmering down low, followed by the more bourbon-adjacent notes of salted caramel and malted milk. The finish is again quite lovely — cloves and sesame emerging — though the entire experience remains quite a gossamer, almost ephemeral confection. It’s never really a game changer — and it could benefit from a bump in abv — though it’s definitely all too easy to sip your way through a lip-smacking dram.