Friday, 22 February 2013

The Glenfiddich Distillery

Driving through the Scottish highlands
The second day of our road trip was going to be an exciting one. We had a big day of driving ahead as we had plans to go up and through the Scottish highlands. As Aussies, we don’t get to see much snow, and to be honest we hadn’t seen a great deal of snow since being in the UK. But driving into the Scottish mountains, that was all about to change. As we climbed into the highlands, the picturesque snow capped mountains of Scotland came into full view. Cara was going crazy with the camera. As the road winded through the country side, there was another gorgeous photo opportunity around every corner.  We were heading toward a little place called “Dufftown”. Not many people have heard of Dufftown, but most people would have certainly heard of what it is famous for. Dufftown is home to the famous, Glenfiddich Distillery.

William Grant, The founder of Glenfiddich.
This distillery is full of so much history and tradition, and with it being one of the oldest distilleries is Scotland, I was looking forward to the visit. It all started in 1886. William Grant and his family built the distillery by hand, one stone at a time. It was officially opened a year later. He named this new distillery “Glenfiddich” which is a gaelic word, that translates to “Valley of the Deer”.  As the whisky became more popular and sales increased over the years, there was a set back in the 1920’s.  This set back was prohibition. By this time, William Grant’s grandson, Gordon was running the company and surprised everyone when he decided to increase the production of whisky during the prohibition era. This meant when the law was overturned, Glenfiddich was one of the only distillers in Scotland to be able to meet the high demands for aged malts. After the second world war, Glenfiddich installed the first of it’s copper stills. These were handcrafted and uniquely designed and shaped to be one of a kind. The demand for Glenfiddich increased every year and in 1961, they decided to re-brand Glenfiddich with a new cutting edge bottle design. The company released the first of it's (now famous) triangular bottle design. From that time on, Glenfiddich has produced and bottled hundreds of different age types and commemorative editions. Possibly the most famous is the "Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve”. A malt which was created to honour William Grant’s last remaining grandchild. She lived to be the oldest person in Scotland. There were only 11 bottles of this whisky made and in 2011 they were all auctioned to raise money for charity. These bottles of scotch sold for over $600,000, breaking world whisky auction records. Today, Glenfiddich is still most awarded and recognised scotch whisky in the world.

After a interesting and detailed tour of the distillery, Cara and I were able to try 3 of their most popular whiskies. The most common 12 year old, along with the 15 year and 18 year old whisky. All three age types having differing characteristics.

Glenfiddich 12 Year Old:  Aged in American bourbon and sherry oak casks, this malt is said to have the flavour and aroma of pears. Along with this, it has a subtle taste of butterscotch, which gives it  a sweetness.  It also has a slightly smokey finish, makes for a long lasting after taste.

Glenfiddich 15 Year Old:  This whisky is again aged in American bourbon casks. The added 3 years of maturation makes it a much richer and deeper amber colour compared with the 12 year old. This whisky was my favourite of the three. It’s slightly sweeter due to it’s vanilla and honey flavours. There are also elements of cinnamon and marzipan, which gives the whisky a mild spicy after taste.

Glenfiddich 18 Year Old: Also aged in American oak, this whisky is known for having the aromas and flavours of baked apples and dried fruits. Due to it’s longer ageing, the oak and smokiness comes through much more. This whisky (more so than the others) really warms your insides on a cold winters day.

We had a great time at Glenfiddich. We learnt lots about the families whisky traditions and we could clearly see how passionate the people are about producing arguably some of the best whisky in the world.  The day was getting on and we still had lots to do. So we set off for the city of Inverness, which was our stop for the night. 

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