Review: Glenfiddich Cask Collection


Nowadays when I'm confronted with the fearsome sight that is a travel retail exclusive, the belt drive activates in my head and the stylus drops onto a classic Iron Maiden track. You know the one, so sing along:

'Run to the hills, run for your life'

That's the catchy part but further on there is an actual whisky reference that fits nicely in with many travel retail exclusives:

'Selling them whisky and taking their gold'

And so it often is the case these specially created whiskies for airport retailers are often conceived with profit in mind. I was very disappointed by the Old Pulteney Noss Head Lighthouse release, which was very young and lacking depth. Am I being harsh criticising travel retail? No, I believe some honesty is required especially if you're standing now at an airport reading this in search of reassurance - let us continue onto the Glenfiddich Cask Collection. I'm tired of scoring whiskies as everything seems to start in the 70's or 7 depending on the table used. That's rubbish as frankly there is more mundane and dreary whisky nowadays and it's spreading like an infestation.

Well, lets dig out the weedkiller and set the record straight for a change? I'm honest as whisky costs good money and its my money on the line as well. Some other 'blogs' and I'm really starting to loathe that term, just avoid reviewing poor whiskies. I can accept we all have a different opinion and that's to be valued but when confronted by what is a poor whisky and I'm the only voice during a Twitter Tasting voicing concerns then its very disappointing.

Firstly, lets be fair as the Glenfiddich has created some enjoyable exclusives for travel retail including the 125th Anniversary Edition. So I was eager to try out their new range dubbed the Cask Collection and purchased this 3x5cl set for the full vertical experience. Remember folks I tend to purchase my whisky rather than play the PR marketing game. This keeps me independent, which I value greatly and hopefully you'll appreciate such a stance. 

Select Cask
Price: £39.99 for a litre
Strength: 40% vol
Additional: a Solera vatting of bourbon, European Oak and red wine casks.

Colour: brushed copper
Nose: vanilla, honey, apricots, caramel, red grapes and coconut.
Taste: mostly what was on the nose plus custard tarts and candied orange peel with a very short black pepper finish. 

Conclusion: the entry bottle in the range so lower expectations. A playful nose but not much depth or character on the palate. There are better blends out there for a fraction of the cost.

Reserve Cask
Price: £49.99 for a litre
Strength: 40% vol
Additional: a Solera vatting of sherry casks

Colour:a creme brulee topping
Nose: walnuts, red liquorice, strawberries and a creamy quality.
Taste: its like a boozy classic homemade trifle with the cream, red jelly, pieces of fruit and alcohol mingling to decent effect.

Conclusion: it's not a great sherry whisky by any stretch of the imagination. Probably ideal for those who like their drams in a tumbler with ice in reality. In a Glencairn the nose is lacking but a pleasant enough sipper.

Vintage Cask
Price: £70.99
Strength: 40% vol
Additional: a mix of bourbon and European Oak casks with a peaty malt

Colour: Nestle Caramac bar
Nose: marizpan, fresh raw pastry, Jacob's cream crackers and there's a buttery element as well. A hint of ginger, lemongrass and leafy salad and damp mossy wood notes that you might mistake for peat.
Taste: much sweeter initially than the nose suggests. Sugary lemonade with a real zing. More honey and vanilla than any peat characterists. In peat terms this is a Fiat Punto rather than a Ferrari. Picking up some red apples and red grapes but at 40% its very threadbare. 

Conclusion: if you want a peated Glenfiddich then avoid this one. Try the 125th Anniversary instead. I don't really see the justification for £70.99 here compared to the other 2 whiskies in the range. Clearly cashing in on the high demand for anything peated currently in the marketplace. Very middle of the road and forgettable.

So the best of the bunch is the Reserve Cask option but its still overpriced by £10-£15. 

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