The Speyside is situated between the Scottish cities of Inverness and Aberdeen. The region has the distinction of being among the most revered of the whiskey producing appellations in the world. Speyside malts are famous for their elegance and sophistication. At the heart of that tradition is the renowned Glenfiddich 12 Years Old Single Malt Whisky.
So how does a whisky ascend to the very pinnacle of Speyside malts? The Glenfiddich story begins in the summer of 1886 when William Grant and his sons began work on building their distillery by hand, stone by stone. After a year of work it was ready and William named it Glenfiddich, Gaelic for "Valley of the Deer." The first drop of spirit exited their copper stills on Christmas Day 1887.
During the dark days of Prohibition, Glenfiddich was one of the few distilleries to actually increase production, such that when The Repeal was enacted in 1933, Glenfiddich had a sufficient supply of aged whisky to meet surging demand. The brand was the only distillery to have skilled coppersmiths on site at all times to tend to the various uniquely shaped and sized copper stills. In addition, Glenfiddich was the first distillery to build a dedicated cooperage on site with the purpose of maintaining the distillery's ever expanding volume of aging whisky.
Glenfiddich malts are distilled from specially sourced barley ground into rough flour and mixed with heated, fresh water from the nearby Robbie Dhu springs. The mash is transferred to large wooden vats, heated and yeast is added to precipitate fermentation. After the mash has fermented, it is twice distilled in the distillery's copper pot stills.
Glenfiddich matures its malts in charred, American white oak barrels and Spanish Oloroso sherry oak casks hand selected by the head cooper. Prior to being put in wood, the newly made spirit is rendered to 63.5% alcohol with fresh spring water. The barrels are stored in the distillery's dark, damp warehouses where they are imbued with the character of the Speyside.
When the whisky has reached optimum maturity, the selected casks are emptied into large, marrying vats made of Portuguese oak. Various whiskies of the same age or older are rested for up to 9 months mellowing and developing harmonious consistency.
Glenfiddich 12 Years Old is the world's bestselling single malt Scotch for good reason. The famed malt has a rich amber hue, a lightweight, satiny textured body, and a generous nose saturated with the aromas of grain, malt, honey, apples, pears and cinnamon. The brilliant array of aromatics goes a long way toward explaining the whisky's tremendous success. Its palate features the satisfying flavors of caramel, chocolate, citrus zest, roasted almonds, spice, malt and butterscotch. The finish is long and delicious.
At least once in the life of every whisky enthusiast he or she deserves to cross paths with an extraordinary malt like Glenfiddich 18 Years Old Single Malt Whisky. The critically acclaimed malt has an amber/copper hue and a glorious apple, sherry, malt nose. The aromatics do an excellent job of preparing the palate for the approaching flavor extravaganza. On the palate, the 18-year old gem delivers a delectable offering of toffee, sherry, dates, raisins, cinnamon and spice. The long, elegant finish brings forth the added flavors of ginger and dried fruit.
Glenfiddich offers the best example of why the Speyside malts are in such heavy demand. These sensational whiskies should be on every malt aficionados bucket list.