Glenfiddich 26 YO – Self Indulgence

The other day, I was in the car driving the way I always do, like a bat out of hell with rocket boosters.  I was in the virtually traffic-free fast lane on the ring road and needed to get into the lane next to me, which was completely stationary but had access to the empty turn-off.  My lane was short and ended in a wall.

What I did would have been really cool, if it hadn’t been ridiculous.  I continued in the fast lane until the last moment, touching my brakes intermittently, pretending to be lost and unsure.  Then, at the last moment, I slowed right down and slipped into the lane, thanking profusely the car behind me, which had saved me from my simulated incompetence.  I jumped the queue and no one was upset.  At that time, I didn’t worry too much – I was late for my meeting and I had to get there on time.

On another occasion, I was waiting in lane for a turn-off.  My lane wasn’t moving, but the one next to me was flowing freely.  So freely, in fact, that another car decided to grab the opportunity.  He took the parallel lane until the last minute and then very quickly, and without indicating, swung in front of me.  I was furious. Dear driver, you’re not clever you’re a cretin, I thought.  Then I remembered the day on the ring road.  I might have been late that day, but it was my own fault.  I should have left the house earlier.

The truth is, we are all a little bit hypocritical.  Our hypocrisy appears in a wide variety of shapes and forms.  The traffic is one of them.  Another is when shopping.  At the supermarket I always convince the mother of my pups to buy the cheapest, non-label brand of shampoo, bleach and fabric softener.  But when I buy whisky online, I filter the shops by price, starting with the most expensive.  Everyone is like that – all that changes are our priorities.  We are simultaneously ultra-critical and self-indulgent.  A combination which is as hypocritical as it is natural.

OK, as long as I can buy an expensive whisky afterwards.

I’m very permissive in relation to my spending on whisky and even have the most surreal justification of it all: it’s for the blog.  However, in many cases, not even this hypocrisy suffices.  Glenfiddich 26 years is such a case.  It is the distillery’s most exclusive expression in Brazil and perhaps the most expensive single malt sold here at the moment.  I’ve always wanted to taste the wonder.  Lack of courage and credit, however, superseded self-indulgence. I didn’t think I would ever taste this malt.

Until one day, a golden opportunity arose.  At the invitation of the brand ambassador for Latin America, Christiano Protti, and of Caruso Lounge, this Dog took part in a most arduous task… especially as it was a rainy Monday.  I had to taste the complete Glenfiddich line available in Brazil, ending in the incredible 26 year old – all at a fitting dinner prepared by MasterChef Irina Cordeiro.  I was even entitled to a cigar at the end.  Everything, from starters to spectacular end, was flawless.

But let’s get to what everyone wants to know about: Glenfiddich 26 years.  Glenfiddich 26 years is aged exclusively in American Oakbarrels.  They are very special American Oak barrels, made by the Kelvin Cooperage in Kentucky, which, like Glenfiddich, has been run by one family since its foundation in 1963 – a Scottish family, incidentally.  This is an important detail, not because it makes any difference to the spirit (although the cask quality has some influence), but because it carries an important message.  It reflects the values of Glenfiddich itself, which despite being one of the largest distilleries in Scotland, is still owned by the founder’s family – the Grants.

William: founder

By the way, speaking of aging, Glenfiddich 26 years is the first expression of the distillery that uses exclusively American Oak.  For many, this could give the impression of a one-dimensional, simple whisky.  However, that is not the case here.  Although delicate, Glenfiddich 26 years shows incredible complexity.  Its beginning is quite fruity with a certain taste of honey and very pronounced brown sugar.  The taste though develops rapidly, giving rise to something resembling pineapple and leather (seriously).  The finish is medium and floral with plenty of vanilla.  It is perhaps the most elegant of whiskies in the Glenfiddich line that this Dog has ever tried.

Indeed, it’s strange how a whisky that has only been aged in one barrel can develop such complexity.  Much is said today about finalisation.  Whiskies that spend the last years of aging in barrels previously used for other drinks for example, in order to add to, and complement, the flavours.  This is a way in less time and with a certain technique, to create a complex and at the same time accessible product.  Glenfiddich 26 years, however, is the opposite of this.  Its complexity comes from time – from more than two and a half decades of oxidation in one type of carefully chosen and mixed barrel.  That is the most incredible thing about it.  As tempting as it might be, there are no shortcuts and the result is impressive.

In Brazil, Glenfiddich 26 years is a steal at an average R$ 4.500,00 (almost £1,000.00).  This makes it the most expensive single malt ever reviewed here and sold in the country.  It’s pretty expensive.  For the same amount, you could buy seven bottles of Glenfiddich 18 years or twelve of the all-time favourite Glenfiddich 15.  And if you’re throwing a party, twenty-two bottles of distillery’s starting expression, which is 12 years old.  All this means that a measure of the beautiful firstborn is equivalent to an entire bottle of his youngest brother.

All this doesn’t matter very much though as Glenfiddich 26 is really a statement.  A statement that everything that is well made will always have its place, that patience and attention to detail can still create extraordinary, luxurious and amazing products.  Even when the technique can – and often does – equate to time, or when it is easy to switch from the left into the right-hand lane.

GLENFIDDICH 26 YEARS

Type: Single Malt Whisky with age statement – 26 years

Distillery: Glenfiddich

Region: Speyside

ABV: 43%

Tasting notes:

Aroma: fruity, with clearly apparent vanilla and a certain floral citrus – nectarines and apple.

Flavour: fruity and citrus, with vanilla, cinnamon and apple.  The taste of the wood is very clear in the forms of tannins and a hint of chestnut.  The whisky starts off more bitter and becomes progressively sweet until practically finishing in vanilla and cinnamon.  Long finish

With water: water reduces the tannin tones and strengthens the fruit and floral flavours (vanilla).

Price: R$ 4.500,00 (four thousand and five hundred Brazilian reais)

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