Glenfiddich 12, 15, & 18 Year

Reviews #17, 18, & 19: Flight of Glenfiddich (12, 15, & 18 Year)


Distillery: Glenfiddich

Region: Speyside

Price: $12 for 3 50 mL samples

Glenfiddich holds a very special place in my heart. The 12-year-old expression was my introduction into Scotch (and whisky in general). I have many fond memories of it along with my roommates and friends in college. It’s been five years since then and it felt just about time to take a trip down memory lane.

A few notes on color: Trying these drams is probably the first time I really thought to myself “man, added coloring really sucks”. I’d been somewhat passive on the subject before (not preferable but not the worst thing in the world), seeing these three drams being almost identical in color was strange and off-putting. There is a noticeable difference between the 12 and 15 year old, however the 15 and 18 were nearly identical (to the point where I almost lost track of which was which).

Review #17: Glenfiddich 12 Year

ABV: 40%

Age: 12

Color: Color: 1.2 Chestnut, Oloroso Sherry, definitely color added.

Nose (according to the wife): Talk about sweet! The nose just oozes sugary sweet goodness. There’s definitely a huge sherry influence in this one. There are some additional notes of cooked fruit, honey, both fresh and toasted wood, along with fresh cut grass. Your nose burns a bit with this one.

Palate: Sweet. There’s lots of the sherry and assorted fresh fruits (perhaps pear). It’s pretty hard to discern what is what in this one. Mouthfeel isn’t too bad but you can tell the flavors haven’t had the time to develop themselves.

Finish: Finish is very short with the hot, spicy burn of a young whisky. The oak influence is strong here.

Conclusion: An easy to drink whisky that’s a great introduction to sherried/lighter scotches. It’s not going to blow you away, but you could do a lot worse. Lately, I’ve been seeing the 12-year-old being sold for nearly $50 a bottle. That is far, far too much for what this is. The $30-35 range is right where this one should sit, especially since it’s a nice “gateway” scotch.

Final Score: 75

Review #18: Glenfiddich 15 Year – Solera Vat

ABV: 40%

Age: 15

Color: Color: 1.3 Chestnut, Oloroso Sherry, definitely color added.

Nose (according to the wife): There is sweetness in this but not an overpowering amount. The main note you get is delicious fresh cut fruit (she thought something “crisp” like Chinese quince or pears. Along with the fruit, there is some honey, maple syrup, and aged wood. The alcohol “burn” is noticeably less. Her favorite nose of the bunch.

Palate: The palate is a near-perfect mixture of smooth, creamy, and just sweet enough. While the 12 year old was just a punch in the gut of sugary goodness, this one is much more subtle. The fresh fruit (I’m thinking pears but the Chinese quince makes sense as well) is wonderfully framed and it really tastes like you’re biting into a freshly cut slice of it. After a bit of water, there is a tad bit of fresh apples along with the other fruits—Fuji apple is what comes to mind. A little bit of honey and vanilla round this one out. The creaminess balances it out the sweetness so it doesn’t overpower you. Fantastic.

Finish: The finish here is a disappointing. It’s medium to short in length. The aged oak influence comes in a bit here and you get a bit of the woody-spice that is very pleasant. However, there isn’t enough of it!

Conclusion: This whisky is so, so close to being great that it is a pity. The nose and palate are on point with a lot of wonderful notes and complexity. However, the finish is a complete let down. If this one was bottled at cask strength—or even at 43% like the 18 year old—I bet that the finish would definitely be better and this would be a top grade dram. Maybe I need to chase down an independent bottling of this to see it’s true potential. I saw this one at Costco the other day at around $55 a bottle, I think I will be adding this to the bar sometime soon.

Final Score: 81

Review #18: Glenfiddich 18 Year

ABV: 43%

Age: 18

Color: Color: 1.3 Chestnut, Oloroso Sherry, definitely color added.

Nose (according to the wife): No sweetness whatsoever in this one. A very strong wood/oak influence is in the forefront—she said it reminded her of old wooden furniture. There is some leather in here as well which leaves off a bit of spiciness and bitterness.

Palate: Much like the nose, there isn’t a whole lot of the sherry influence or sweetness in this at first. The mouthfeel is very thick and heavy, almost oily. It’s slightly bitter with lots of oak-influence spice. The only fruit I can sense is raisins as you get bit of the bitter aftertaste of the raisins. This one was bottled at the slightly higher ABV (43% vs. 40%) than the last two. Unfortunately (and surprisingly), this is the one that needed a bit of water the most. After a little bit of water, the bitterness and oak-influence gives way to a little bit of the fresh, crisp fruit notes (mainly pear) found easily in the 15 year old expression. As heretical as it might sound, bottling it stronger may have made this a worse whisky.

Finish: The finish is the best of the lot though and redeems this whisky a bit. It is nice and long—you get that lovely chest warming feeling from it. The aged oak-influence shows itself again here along with some very slight nuttiness (almonds?).

Conclusion: While the finish here is great, the nose is average and the palate leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not a bad whisky by any means but it leaves a nice mark against the “older is better” mentality on whisky.

Final Score: 78

Final Thoughts: This really was a wonderful trip down memory lane for me. I got myself a gift set with these three (full bottle of 12 + samples of 15 and 18) as a graduation gift and remember being over the moon at having a chance to try things I had thought were out of my reach. While I’ve changed a lot since the last time I tried all three of these (including how much I spend on whisky…), my taste preferences must not have changed a whole lot. The 15 was my favorite then and it is still my favorite of the three now. Hopefully these little sampler sets will stay around and I’ll have a chance to do this again in the future.

Nose Ranking: 15 > 12 > 18

Palate Ranking: 15 > 18 > 12

Finish Ranking: 18 > 15 > 12

Overall Ranking: 15 > 18 > 12

Scotch whisky review #17-19, Speyside review #8-10, Whisky Network review #18-20


Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection.
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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