Glenfiddich IPA experiment


It's time Glenfiddich loosened that Tweed jacket and brought some funk back into their whiskies. I wasn't surprised when they recently revealed a new range called the Experimental Series. It was all turning a little stuffy, predictable and well just going through the motions.

I'm not here to bash Glenfiddich, far from it in fact. They consistently deliver a strong brand, their prices are on the reasonable side of the tracks, which is not something you see much of nowadays. The distillery is a must visit, catering for enthusiasts across the globe and their ambassadors are passionate about the brand. I just felt there was a disconnect with all the hard work on presentation and the final piece of the jigsaw; the whisky. I've tried much of the core range now as you can see from this search with the most recent disappointment being the 18 year old single malt.

So I'm actually quite excited to try one of these two releases that promise to be a little different. The one I'm not covering just now is the Project XX release which will set you back £50 and is the culmination of 20 whisky experts picking a cask each. Then Malt Master Brian Kinsman recreated this unique concept which will form part of the main range rather than being a limited expression.

The mysterious XX is for another time, but for this review we're sitting down with the IPA Experiment thanks to a bottle share purchase. As the name suggests this involves casks that once played host to a Speyside Indian Pale Ale. It's more of a short term finish of 3 months rather than a full maturation period and regulars will know my scepticism of such tactics. The blurb suggests this twist provides a unique finish full of fresh hoppy notes thanks to a thorough series of tests from Brian Kinsman. The beer creation is almost just a waste product as the whole process is designed around the final whisky. It's been a lengthy process as you can see from this Glenfiddich map:


The concept is an interesting bridge between the craft beer scene which has grown in popularity and the whisky genre that is being challenged by smaller distilleries across the world. Glenfiddich needs to tap into the younger more fashionable end of the market and a beer-influenced whisky is an open invitation.

When I'm out in Edinburgh, Glasgow or somewhere else for a drink it's a rare happening. The majority of the time I'll volunteer as the designated driver, as frankly I have better stuff to drink at home. Plus I need to keep feeding the appetite of the Whisky Rover. Actually, thinking about this in greater detail; you don't actually need an alcoholic beverage just good company.

Yet when I am out and about, I'll quite often look for a boilermaker or in Scotland a hauf and a hauf. Both are a combination of a beer and a spirit except the Scots prefer that whisky and a local beer. It gives you the best of both worlds and keeps you upright for the walk home. The IPA seems a logical marriage of both realms so I'm eager to try this concept.

It'll set you back around £43 and is already proving popular at retail - I cannot comment on whether its natural colour or non chill-filtered as I haven't seen these statements. Sadly this means I have to presume Glenfiddich have resorted to their old habits here although it is bottled at 43% and the Experiment XX is non-chill filtered.

Colour: amber
Nose: oranges is the immediate thought, a little toffee, wet cardboard and bread dough. Not inspiring stuff lets try again. Freshly baked shortbread, warm butter, a touch of ginger and what I can only describe as a flat Lucozade. It's certainly not a mad scientist experiment more a botched high school effort.
Taste: those Glenfiddich apples once again and these roll into a prolonged hoppy finish. There's vanilla most definitely. A light caramel, wood shavings and milk chocolate with a hint of Ovaltine.

Overall: a promising experiment on paper has not fulfilled its full potential. Whether its just that it was never going to work, or Glenfiddich didn't allow the IPA casks to really make their true impact is open to debate. It's not a bad whisky just yet again a dull one. Style over substance. I'll stick to my hauf and hauf for now thanks.

Whisky Rover

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