Glenfiddich Rare Collection Cask No 20050

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Fifty years ago, in 1969, the single malt market was very different from the one of today. For starters, single malt whisky was barely marketed outside of the UK, blends ruled the market with even greater dominance than they do now (in 2018, approximately 92% of all exported Scotch was blended whisky), and the notion of ‘whisky tourism’ wasn’t even thought of. Unless you were Glenfiddich.

Pioneers of many things over the years, from the famed story of Sandy Grant Gordon travelling to the US with a suitcase full of whisky in the very early 1960s, through to the introduction of the Solera Vat in 1998, and the creation of the first beer cask finished single malt in 2016, Glenfiddich have never given a second thought when it came to bucking a trend. With the news that distillery visits are at an all time high – over 2 million visits were made in 2018 – there really isn’t a more perfect time to highlight another pioneering move made by the brand.

This year marks 50 years since Glenfiddich launched its Visitor Centre. They may be a common sight, if not an essential revenue stream, at a distillery nowadays, but in 1969 no Visitor Centres existed until Glenfiddich opened theirs. To celebrate this anniversary, the brand has released a single cask bottling, hand selected by Malt Master, Brian Kinsman. Commenting on its release, Kinsman said: “This whisky is inspired by the 1969 bottling gifted to VIP guests at the original visitor centre opening. 30 years old, it is a true connoisseur’s choice, with a host of seductive flavours and subtle aromas.”

The technical spec: this single American Oak Hogshead was laid down on Christmas Day 1987, exactly 100 years to the day since spirit first flowed from the stills. It was bottled at 30 years old at a natural cask strength of 56.7% ABV, and is limited to only 200 bottles which are exclusively available from the distillery’s website.

I’m salivating already.

Glenfiddich Rare Collection Cask No. 20050
1987 Vintage, 30 years old
Single Cask American Oak Hogshead
200 bottles
56.7% ABV
£1,600 here

Nose: Initially, loads of poached apples and pears along with stewed apricot and peaches. Then peach melba, yoghurt coated banana and grilled pineapple. Everything is covered in a dusting of cinnamon, toasted walnut and praline, with some sandalwood and polished, worn leather underneath.

Palate: Apple pie, rhubarb crumble, lemon zest and a root ginger spice. Then a buttery note – chocolate eclair sweets? – and a faint floral note, possible jasmine, and a touch of Turkish Delight. Lots of baking spices then surge forward with more of that aromatic woodiness and antique Chesterfields.

Finish: Creme caramel, fleshy stone fruits and toasted vanilla pods, with a touch of espresso and cask stave.

Overall: Sublime. Absolutely sublime. Immediately recognisable as a Glenfiddich, but with layer upon layer of fruits and spices, and a depth of complexity that only cask strength whisky can bring. Easily the best new release I’ve tasted this year, and I’ve been fortunate enough to taste some stunning liquid over the past seven months. The price is well out of my range, but hey, there’s never going to be a 50th anniversary of Glenfiddich’s VC again. Here’s to the next 50 years.



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