Glenfiddich gets a redesign!

Alrighty. 🙂

Something we don’t talk about on ScotchNSniff all that much is design. There have been a ton of brands rebranding and changing up their bottle and packaging design lately and though this doesn’t always immediately affect the look of your local store, once old stock is gone, it definitely will. Macallan made their bottles more masculine by bringing the shoulders up and making them wider. Balblair ditched their “vintages” and moved to easy-to-read age statements. Old Pulteney added some gorgeous details to their already nautical designs. There are a bunch of new designs mixing up the look of the whisky market.

One of the redesigns I didn’t expect and was really anticipating was the Glenfiddich redesign. Granted, it’s not slated to come stateside for a few months still, it didn’t stop me from ordering one of the new bottles from The Whisky Exchange! I definitely suffered in shipping to get the bottle here but I’m glad I finally got to see the bottle in person. Glenfiddich re-hired HereDesign to create the new look for the line up and apparently the refresh will happen over a period of a couple of years starting with the 12, 15, and 18 year expressions. HereDesign is the same group responsible for the look of the Experimental series from Glenfiddich and the new Balvenie stories lineup.

When I first saw the new Glenfiddich bottle my immediate thought was “OH NO. The chevron is already used heavily by Macallan!”. Personally, I love the chevron design in Macallan glasses and was really afraid of the Glenfiddich bottle carrying the same marque but Glenfiddich says it’s to represent the Valley of the deer (which is embossed in the glass just above the bottle neckline). And I get it… but I wonder if other people will notice the same detail.

Also, due to the optical illusion created by the chevron shape, I thought the bottom of the bottle below the chevron would be wider than the upper portion but it’s not. It’s amazing how some light on a shape can create spatial ideas in our mind that aren’t always rooted in physical reality but the reality of what our mind is capable of generating!

Another interesting design detail is the red banner at the very top of the bottle. It’s weird because I’ve never noticed red details on Glenfiddich bottles until this one but going back and looking at older bottlings, it IS a common occurrence. It occurs on the newest bottling with the year, a stag, and the “1887” representing the year Glenfiddich was established.

The 12 year statement is huge now and the words about the actual bottling’s makeup are now pretty snazzily printed right across it. In really gorgeous script below is “From the valley of  the deer”, also.

So there you have it! A walk around of the new Glenfiddich bottle that’ll soon be in stores! A number of my friends on IG have asked if I’m being paid for this or if this is all a part of an ad but I’m just a giant GF fan boy that wanted to be first in having a bottle here to talk about. I got a DM from a brand ambassador saying they didn’t even have a bottle yet and that made my life. 🙂

What do you think of the new design? Did they do it well? Poorly? Let me know!

Slainte!

-Sniff

 

SNS in Scotland (Day 3)

Day three.

I know, it’s been hundreds of days since I updated you on the Scotland trip from May of 2017 but I’ve been busy with a lot of things including new youtube videos and tons of IG content so if you’re not following on YT and IG, you know what to do 😉

Day three in Scotland was Glenfiddich Day lol. A day spent at “Disney world” of distilleries. The pictures will do most of the talking but I’ll try to add as many interesting details as I can remember!


A view from the parking lot.


On the far side of the parking lot there’s a really nifty looking tree created from barrel staves. A lot of distilleries have pieces of art at their entrance but this was pretty unique in terms of size.


This mini-lake is actually warm due to its part in the distilling process…


Where I wanted to be 😉


The hustle and bustle of getting ready for visitors.


The entrance of the visitor center reeks of history and polish.


If every bar looked like this….


Ludo, the King of the Ambassadors, is our tour guide for our first stop at Kinninvie. Kinninvie, Balvenie, and Glenfiddich all sit on the same grounds separated by short distances.


Kinninvie is just a warehouse with stills in it at this time.


Back to the tasting room in Glenfiddich for a special tasting…


A mash tun as seen from the tasting room!


Ludo explaining what we’re tasting and why.


Lunch in the Malt Barn.


I ran over to the gift shop after lunch because I knew it’d be closed if we tried to visit the shop after the tour.


The Glenfiddich handfilling station where you can fill your own or have one of the kind employees fill one for you. This week was a part of the Spirit of Speyside week so Glenfiddich only had peated whisky on tap.


A little video about the distillery to start the tour.


Lorna, our tour guide, was an amazing wealth of knowledge.


There are malt mills… and then there are GIANT malt mills.


You can see the tasting room window on the left. This is just a closer view of the mash tun above.


Piping in real spring water!


Big, beautiful washbacks holding what is soon to be a 9% alcohol “beer”, essentially.



In most still rooms, the blue painted things mean “low wines” or “wash still” or the first distillings of that wash (beer) we spoke about earlier. Low wines clock in around 20-27% alcohol and are distillied a second time in spirit stills. Red painted things tend to mean that they’re coming from the spirit stills at anywhere from 70-80% alcohol. Finding the sweet spot of the spirit still’s output is the goal of every distillery.


The grounds are gorgeous.


Water from the Robbie Dhu spring if you’d like some!


The backside of the dunnages.


Heading into the Glenfiddich Solera vatting warehouse.


You’re not allowed to take pictures in the vatting room but I snapped a quick one as we were leaving.


The vent for the kiln styled malting floors of old.


Nifty flowers.


Lorna giving us details about the bottling room.


Lorna walking us through the Solera 15 deconstruction and the process to blend our own 15 year 😀

Et voila. There were some things I left out

It’s been two weeks!

We’re back with our second video and it’s about bottles that are sought after purely because of the hype that follows them. Take a look and let us know what you think! (Or better yet, subscribe to our youtube channel and follow us a little more closely!)

We’ll be releasing videos every two weeks until we can magically grow time to shoot more and shoot more often. 🙂

World’s Best Whisky!!

I stayed up last night thinking a lot about this topic and how we’re kind of fooling ourselves. If you’re trying to find the worlds best whisky, sorry for the deceiving title, but you won’t find it here. What you will find, is the truth behind what will guide you, to find
the best whiskies of the world.

 

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Sniff’s Birthday Extravaganza!!!!

The three topics that kept me up last night were; Rating systems, Personal preference and Hype. I’ll soap box on each one of these separately.

Rating Systems: Rating systems are great aids for those who don’t know what they want and to potentially find the best versions of a certain whisky in a certain category. For example, using the 100 point scale that many reviews use, you could safely assume that a 95 point Islay whisky, like an Ardbeg Uigeadail, would be an exceptional example of a peated northern Islay whisky. What some may call a “Classic”. Without having tasted it, you can trust that the reviewers have or should have determined that the flavors present in the whisky should showcase that of an Islay whisky, to be at least 95% of the best of that style.

This may take into account the many factors of being a classic Islay whisky, BUT, what if you don’t like Islay whiskies?? What if peat makes you cringe? And even though this is one of the best peated Islay whiskies, you hate it. Then that 95 points means nothing to you.

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Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release

One way to get a better idea of if your taste buds are on par with a reviewers, is to drink a lot of the same whisky that they have reviewed, to see if you agree with them. But the thing about drinking a lot of whisky is; 1. You could develop a serious drinking problem, 2. A serious loss of money problem or even more seriously, 3. Be able to determine your own personal preference. The industry would like it if they could continue to think for you, aka “Influence” you.

The best thing I’ve learned about tasting and reviewing a lot of whisky, is that you become better at tasting and reviewing whisky. Just like anything else, practice makes perfect. Or a better saying in this situation would be, practice makes you more educated. But it doesn’t roll of the tongue as easily. The more whisky you taste, the better ability you have to determine what you like and dislike. After gaining the knowledge of knowing what you like and dislike, e.g. Personal Preference, then you can determine for yourself what is the best, for you!

Many people have this idea that they know what’s best for you. Not just random people, but companies. “Our soap is the best for your shower”, “these crackers will cure indigestion” and “our toilet paper will wipe better for you than any other”. When companies do this, it’s called marketing. When randos do this, it’s called hype.

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Glenfiddich 21 The Balvenie 21 The Glenlivet 21

Both marketing and hype are used to increase the perception of the value for things, often to ridiculous heights. Case in point, the 2013 Yamazaki Sherry cask which was named Best Whiskey in the World by Jim Murray (a whisky reviewer). This rocketed the Japanese whiskey scene, calling for thousands of dollars for the 2013 Yamazaki Sherry Cask and even raising the rest of the Yamazaki expressions to crazy inflated prices. The 12 year expression used to cost $65, now if you can find it, will run you $125. The 18 year expression used to cost around $200 and is now hovering between $399 – $450. Is the whisky good? Sure! But is it $400 good for the 18 year or $125 good for the 12 year? Maybe. It really depends upon how much you’re willing to spend for something that is hard to get and if you enjoy it. I love the Hibiki 21 year. I started purchasing bottles at $199 when I first saw it and I continue to purchase bottles when I find it for $350. When is my stopping point? My wife says, now.

Bottom line, use resources like this blog, other blogs and other reviewers to form a general idea of what it is you want to try. We try to use very easy to understand descriptions in order to appeal to the vast majority. Then, use online sites that sell samples of various bottles of whisky, or go to different bars to try different pours without committing to a full bottle. Determine whether you like sweet, peat, salty, medicinal or any other types of whisky and then continue down those lanes until you find your grail. That is the only way to determine what the best whisky in the world is, for you. And that’s why we love this whisky journey that we’re on.

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ScotchNSniff glass

So, what’s YOUR world’s best whisky??
[Scotch]

Rhino Whiskey

We need to address the Rhino in the room.

No, I don’t mean elephant. I’m talking about the Rhinovirus.

rhi·no·vi·rus
ˌrīnōˈvīrəs,ˈrīnōˌvī-/

noun

noun: rhinovirus; plural noun: rhinoviruses
  1. any of a group of picornaviruses, including those that cause some forms of the common cold.

Yes.

Sniff here.

I’ve caught a cold and it’s made tasting whisky impossible. I poured a wee dram of a new bottle of Ardbeg Dark Cove and it tasted more horrible than normal. (Which isn’t saying much for the peated taint of Scotland but it was especially horrible. I actually liked the flavors in the Dark Cove committee release…)  At first I blamed the Ardbeg but after some careful thought…

Nope! I just poured myself some of my favorite Glenfiddich (the 19 AoD BCR) and sure enough the flavors that I know and love are missing completely. Knowing that 90% of what you taste is based on what you smell, none of this should be a surprise, at all.

I guess I’m stuck sipping on Robitussin CF from now until I’m over this bug. Wait… Will ‘tussin taste any better in a glencairn glass??

Ladies and gentlemen… the Robitussin CNPF!

Color: Ruby koolaid red

Nose: Medicinal, definitely medicinal.

Palate: I’m pretty sure this doesn’t have the pizzazz of their grape expression but their standard expression is nothing to scoff at! It’s super viscous, like Pappy Van Winkle 23 but with less complexity and obviously much less age! Again the medicinal notes from the nose are just dousing my tongue!

Finish: This dram has me feeling better already!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this fun post!

Happy Friday fellow scotch lovers!!

-[Sniff]

Scotch VS Scotch : Kirkland 18 Sherry versus Glenfiddich 18 versus Macallan 18

Value is a funny thing.
ˈvalyo͞o/
noun
noun: value; plural noun: values
  1. 1.
    the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
No matter how many reviews we write, I can never get the idea out of my head that the worth that anyone has for a bottle of whisk(e)y is always subjective. We try to give an idea of the value of a bottle based on its flavors divided by its price tag and it seems to be a solid way to give the most objective review that we can. There’s nothing worse than spending $200 (or more!) on a lack luster bottle that you purchased for a special event! And there are few better things that spending $60 on a bottle that brings joy to you and your friends.

All of that said, today’s Scotch versus Scotch is a three way battle between some 18 year old offerings. In one corner we have a bottle from Costco, the Kirkland Highland 18 Sherry. In the second corner we have a bottle of Glenfiddich 18. And in the third corner of our triangle shaped ring, we have the Macallan 18. Two of these offerings are finished in sherry and the Macallan is aged in sherry alone so this should be an interesting comparison. The price differential between these three bottles is also extreme so we’ll get a great idea of the value of each of these bottles.

 

COLOR
The Kirkland (bottled by Alexander Murray and Co) and the Macallan are almost identical in their slightly reddish golden hue. The Glenfiddich is noticeably a few shades lighter in color.

NOSE
The Kirkland 18 Sherry cask smells like barley! Sherry barrels generally impart a nutty and spice filled flavor into the distillate they cradle and the barrels that AM&Co happened to pick for Costco are a pleasant deviation from the norm. There are also toffee notes strewn about the barley but they’re quite a bit more subtle than any typical whisky. The Glenfiddich has the fruitiest nose of the three… but that should come as not surprise to any Glenfiddich fans. Freshly sliced apples are drowning in sherry (sherry apple pie O.O) and soft baked tree fruits are sprinkled in small dashes of sugar! This is heaven! Ahhh, the Macallan 18. World famous for scotch lovers, it reeks of Sherry with bits of toasted oak. I know this bottle far too well. [Scotch] gifted me my first bottle last Christmas and I’ve already got a second replacement bottle for the inevitable demise of this liquid gold. In case you’ve never tasted this sherry and chocolate concoction, I’ll just leave a link to its previous review here.

 

 

PALATE
The Kirkland is light on the tongue with Sherry and barley! If you’ve ever had Korean barley water (보리차), you’ll find yourself right at home! There’s a bit of light fruit which is no surprise considering the distillery chosen to source the 18 year old hooch. There may be some grapes that are also present in the mix. Water brings up some unpleasant oak notes so if you’d like to enjoy this, like the Pappy Van Winkle 23, skip the water! As I bring the Glenfiddich towards my face to sip it, I’m immediately greeted by a bowl of fruit sugar! This pour is the most classy rendition of an apple pie in liquid form. From the soft, luscious baked apples to the cinnamon spices, it does not disappoint. I’d like to pair this with Thanksgiving this year. 🙂  Whichever casks they chose for batch 3454 all deserve a medal! The richness of the Macallan 18s sherry and spices blast to the forefront of your tongue. It’s a small aria in Macallan’s opera of sherry (compared to the NAS cask strength) but along with sherry comes chocolate and oranges and even a touch of oak. Decadent.

 

 

FINISH
The Kirkland finish is sherry spicy with fruity notes. It’s definitely enjoyable as a sipper. The Glenfiddich finishes with oloroso spices and pepper… another solid offering from the valley of the deer. The Macallan lingers like an old friend just in from out of town. A best friend.

 

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Kirkland was $60 for the bottle, the Glenfiddich $80, and the Macallan $200. Not really a fair comparison when there’s more than a 300% difference in price between two of these bottles. That said, each of these bottles holds value for their respective audiences. The Macallan is something people can brag to their friends about trying. The Glenfiddich is something that can be shared with friends at home. And the Kirkland? Obviously a value at its price point and that’s more than admirable.

 

Which is your favorite? Which have you tried? Let us know. 🙂

 

Slainte

 

-[Sniff]

Scotch VS Scotch : Glenfiddich 21 Rum Cask Reserve vs Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask

Happy Friday fellow scotch lovers!

It being Friday, I figure there are few things more fun than sharing some spirits with friends! What are you supposed to share with them though? Rum? Scotch? What If I told you, you could share BOTH with them at the same time? Welcome to today’s Scotch versus Scotch: the Glenfiddich 21 Rum Cask Reserve and the Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask.

COLOR
Their colors are almost identical with just a slight tint of extra darkness edging into the golden Glenfiddich glass. As it turns out, a seven year difference in casks doesn’t always mean a huge difference in color. There are so many factors that go into the impartation of color (e-150a aside) beyond age. Sherry usually imparts a dark redness to the spirit but rum, it seems, is all about golden hues.

NOSE
The Glenfiddich’s nose is filled with butter cookies with a touch of their signature tree fruits waiting in the wing. There are some ripe citrusy notes from what smell like orange peels (with just a small splash of chocolate) to a touch of refreshing lemony-lime notes. It’s a fruity mixed cocktail that instantly transports you to a warm spot on the sand!

The Balvenie in comparison is a glass of brown sugar and fudge warmed over honey. Some fruits begin to appear and I’m sure I can see Glenfiddich on the other side of the same rummy beach.

Going back to the glenfiddich, you can smell the difference in the richness of the nose of each pour. This is one of the best parts of doing a side by side comparison of such contrasting spirits: some of the commonalities melt away and the distinct idiosyncrasies of the whiskies rise to the surface.

PALATE
Initially on the palate the Glenfiddich is light and unassuming. It’s raw sugar cane over baking spices with a slightly tannic mouthfeel. The oak from 21 years of aging in two barrels is starting to show which (most likely) explains the tannins.

Taking the Balvenie to the nose again, I’m anticipating the fudge before I’ve even sipped it! The mouthfeel is a much lighter body than the Glenfiddich. Where the Glenfiddich’s mouthfeel was a Jaguar F-Type, the Balvenie is an Ariel Atom. An Ariel atom filled with creamy, buttery, honey and vanilla cookies! Luscious for something so light and an absolute joy to savor!

FINISH
The Glenfiddich finishes with a bit of spices rising to the surface alongside more citrus. The oak really draws attention to itself as the medium bodied finish dips its toes into the Caribbean sand one last time.

The finish in the Balvenie is a bit lacking (in length and intensity) compared to the Glenfiddich but I’m not sure I’d like an overbearing oak finish to end something so decadent.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Picking the winner for this rum battle is EASY. Do you love big hulking flavors and wine? The Glenfiddich is for you! The rich flavors over slightly tannic mouthfeel will bring the beach home with you. Do you love to gorge yourself on buttery fudge cookies? Then the Balvenie is for you! The decadent nose and palate will set up a rum bakery in your glass.

Do you love all of those things??

(If you do, odds are your wallet isn’t going to like you very soon! 🙂 )

Which is YOUR personal favorite?

Slainte!

-[Sniff]