The story of Glenfiddich began in the summer of 1886 when William Grant started building his distillery near to the river Fiddich. It had been a dream of his for some time. He quit his job as the manager of Mortlach and decided to make his dreams come true with the help of his wife and nine children. Even to this day, the distillery remains independent, and family owned.
The distillery was named Glenfiddich, Gaelic for Valley of the Deer. The first spirit ran through the stills on Christmas Day in 1887. The Glenfiddich Archive Collection celebrates the history of the distillery with single malt whiskies from as far back as 1973.
I was invited to the distillery just before Christmas to sample these new releases in a very Christmassy environment. It was snowing every day; we enjoyed a Christmas dinner and many drams by the fire, and even saw a few deer near the distillery. All very appropriate for the occasion. Of course, the highlight was the revealing of the Archive Collection.
Glenfiddich Archive Collection
The Archive Collection celebrates the distillery’s long history. It includes three unique single malts, distilled in 1973, 1984 and 1987. The most special within the collection is probably the 1987 Christmas centenary cask, laid down on Christmas Day by the Grant family to celebrate the distillery’s 1st Centenary milestone. It also happens to be my birth year and the year of some great rock music.
The Glenfiddich Archive Collection will be available for purchase from spring 2023.
Archive Collection 1987
Fill date: 25th December 1987
Cask: Refill American Oak Hogshead
ABV: TBC in January once removed from cask (The one I tried was 54.2%)
Availability: Exclusively from The Distillery Boutique in Dufftown
This release had a Christmassy nose with aromas of coffee cake, cooked apples similar to an apple pie with cinnamon spice, clementine peel and subtle caramel. The palate was spiced with warming chilli heat and winter spices. Like the nose, there were Christmassy notes of orange and mandarin peel and dried apple. I also found the palate oaky with some grassy notes.
Archive Collection 1984
Fill date: 27th March 1984
Cask: European Oak Sherry Butt
Availability: Exclusively in Taiwan and China
The colour of this was lovely, with a slight pinkish hue. This was the least favourite of the three for me as I found the nose to be a bit rubbery with aromas of a greasy oven. After giving it some time, I could detect aromas of burnt caramel and some classic sherried notes. The palate had notes of sweet liquorice, some spice and wood. The mouthfeel was fairly dry with some tannins. There was definitely a contrast of sweet and dry on the palate.
Archive Collection 1973
Fill date: 7th May 1973
Cask: Refill American Oak Barrel
Availability: Exclusively in the UK
This was my favourite of the three (an expensive taste, I know!). At this age you’d expect the whisky to be a bit more oaky and not as sweet as it turned out to be, so the aromas took me by surprise. The nose was delicious, with scents of bubble gum, sweet mulled wine, Italian Lambrusco wine and some caramel in the background.
The palate was quite light, and the age was more apparent in the oaky notes, reminiscent of a musty old house. I could also detect that bubble-gum sweetness and some orchard fruits.
A few fun facts about Glenfiddich
1 Glenfiddich was the first single malt to be marketed outside Scotland.
2 Since 2000 the Glenfiddich has received more awards than any other single malt scotch whisky in two of the world’s most prestigious competitions, the International Wine and Spirits Competition and the International Spirits Challenge.
3 Glenfiddich was one of only six distilleries to continue production throughout Prohibition.
4 The triangular bottle shape represents the three ingredients: water, barley and air. The bottle was originally designed in 1956 by famous modernist Hans Schleger, who was also behind the iconic London Transport bus stop signs. Glenfiddich started to use the bottle from 1961 when they launched their Straight Malt.
5 Glenfiddich was the first Scottish distillery to export and market its whisky as a single malt. It was first marketed as Straight Malt and Pure Malt to indicate that the spirit came from one distillery and only contained malt. Eventually it changed into single malt.
Disclaimer: I was invited on a press trip by The Glenfiddich PR company, and all the expenses were paid for.