Innovate or die. That’s the stark truth in today’s age of disruption. In the world of whisky, one legendary brand is rewriting its rulebook and exploring new frontiers with new releases birthed out of a series of groundbreaking collaborations.
The brand in question is Glenfiddich. Two years ago, it launched the Experimental Series to inspire unusual and unexpected ways of making and drinking whiskies. “Only by unlearning what we know and collaborating with like-minded mavericks can we try new things, experiment, push whisky boundaries and challenge traditions,” says the brand’s Malt Master Brian Kinsman. Since then, it has pioneered some progressive concoctions, including the Glenfiddich IPA Experiment and the Project XX (pronounced 20).
Beer aged in old whisky barrels isn’t new, but the opposite was unheard of—until Kinsman met Speyside craft brewer Seb Jones. Together, they created the first single malt scotch whisky finished in IPA craft beer casks, alongside a new craft beer, which was used to season the oak with extra hoppy notes. The Glenfiddich IPA Experiment is bright and zesty on the nose, with hints of ripe green apple, William’s pear and spring blossoms. It exudes a vibrant, citrus-y taste at first sip, and finishes with long-lasting sweetness of vanilla with subtle green hops. Drink it over an ice ball, with a twist of blood orange, rimmed around the glass before swimming in the malt.
The second undertaking of the Glenfiddich Experimental Series was more ambitious than the first. For Project XX, Kinsman invited 20 whisky experts from around the world to the brand’s Conval Warehouse, and gave them free reign to choose any single cask that intrigued them the most. The final 20 malts, which were matured in anything from port pipes to virgin bourbon barrels, were then blended together to create a small batch vatting. The result? A surprising schizophrenic firewater that it has a curious and strangely harmonious blend of candyfloss, cinnamon spice, almonds, rich port tannins and liquorice flavours at the top, but the warm summer fruity character of a classic Glenfiddich at its core. Nose the malt first before tasting it neat. Add a few drops of water to open up some of the subtler flavours if you like. If you want to go a little further, put a single flake of sea salt on your tongue before taking another sip.
There’s more to the Experimental Series. The third, created in collaboration with Canadian winery Peller Estate and named Winter Storm, saw rare, 21-year-old Glenfiddich whiskies aged in French oak Icewine casks. Peller Estate’s Craig McDonald describes it as “a unique balance of the warming soul of whisky and the frozen cold of Icewine”. Fire & Cane, the newest in the series launched in July, is a peated no-age-statement single malt that is first matured in bourbon casks, then finished in rum casks.
Unfortunately, Experiment 3 and 4 are not (yet, we hope) available in Singapore, but you can find out more about 1 (IPA Experiment) and 2 (Project XX) and where to try them in Singapore via Glenfiddich SEA’s Facebook page. Be sure to also pop into the Glenfiddich Experiment Series website to learn more about these amazing bottles.