Reviewed by: Nick
Choosing one whisky for a group of people is no easy task. Especially when you take six whisky fans overseas for a week with only a single bottle of duty free to see the group through the jetlag and toast the new surroundings.
However, that’s exactly what has recently gone down for m’colleague and I, alongside four other intrepid travelling companions on an adventure to Vietnam. Accompanying we Waffle boys was ‘Studley’, a relative whisky novice, ‘Susej’, who loves whisky so long as it’s cask strength or peated, ‘Marx’ (later renamed ‘Trotsky’ – see if you can guess why), a Scotsman who would happily drink anything whisky-themed, and ‘Money Penny’, another Scotsman who doesn’t recognise Tasmanian stuff as proper whisky. And to be perfectly honest, Ted and I were just happy with anything that wasn’t red label.
Ultimately, as trip organiser, the decision fell to me. So what did I do? I ignored all of their preferences and picked something that interested me.
I plumped for a duty-free exclusive Glenfiddich called the Select Cask: an entry level in the same vein as the 12 Year Old – but with an x-factor. It is part of a series called the ‘Cask Collection’ where each bottling is solera matured with different barrel types – in the case of this bottle: ex-red wine casks.
While I have an up and down relationship with wine barrelling in whisky, I also claim that the regular Glenfiddich 12 is rather… well… boring. I was eager to find out if this variation in maturation would fix this. Turns out… it did.
The nose is an intriguing mixture of pear and custard mixed with burnt toffee aromas. It’s gentle but encouraging. The palate displays vanilla fudge notes and dark fruits although it also reveals a rougher, spicier edge. I can assume – as there is no age statement on the bottle – some of the spirit is considerably younger than can be found in the 12 Year Old. However if this is the compromise for an entertaining dram, I’m not going to argue. The finish is short with hints of blackberries and the faintest trace of oak.
This, however, is just my own version of the tasting notes – I was only one of six on the trip. So what did the others think? Well, Studley was tipsy after one dram, Susej drank it like it was water (which was also his tasting note of choice), Marx downed it happily (while he still could) and even Money Penny raised a glass to the trip with it. And Ted? He didn’t mind it either. Maybe the hint of rawness put him off slightly, but the good times we had with it persuaded him to see it in a positive light.
After all, it is those memories which form the most significant opinions. We can talk about barrel types, limited releases and young spirit all we like. But in the end, the six of us boys had a memorable holiday and this bottle was there for every moment of the crazy ride. It could really have been any bottle. But I picked this one and am happy I did. Turns out choosing one whisky for a group of people is easy after all.