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Glenfiddich Fire & Cane Experimental Series #04

A new inclusion on the Malt menu is the blind tasting format. Something that a few of you have requested we try and do now and again. We’re always listening and striving to improve what we can offer, hence today’s break from the norm.

Recently in Glasgow – ok, it was fairly nearby when I wrote this introduction in March – I helped organise a grass roots tasting with all the proceeds going to a local homeless charity. All the attendees had fun and explored some new whiskies. A bonus was catching up with Justine and Noortje and finally getting to meet Phil in person. This allowed me to hand over a couple of blind samples, which we’ll spread over 2 articles.

The brief was pretty simple; review this like any other whisky. Provide your own tasting notes, score and conclusions. Only then, will I reveal the whisky and ask you again for your thoughts. Sounds pretty straightforward huh? Unfortunately, putting together these notes from 3 different sources has taken longer than anticipated, as we’re now into July; it’s time to publish.

You, the lucky onlooker, have the insight of knowing what the mystery whisky is. I wanted to pick a brand. A well-known distillery that wraps itself around marketing and social media. A producer that is not just about the whisky. An obvious selection is Glenfiddich and seeing how we’ve not tackled their latest Experimental bottling. I was intrigued by the Fire & Cane release, given the widespread positivity online. We’ve reviewed a couple of entries in the Experimental series a couple of years ago and this would be a fun candidate to strip back to the bare bones of the liquid itself for a trio of opinions.

Bottled at 43% strength, Fire & Cane features the Glenfiddich peated spirit combined with bourbon-aged single malt, which is then finished in Latin rum casks. Expect to pay £42.45 via the Whisky Exchange or you can save a few quid at Master of Malt who are charging £39.89, which is the same price as Amazon.

Glenfiddich Fire & Cane – Justine’s Review

Colour: Deep gold.

On the nose: Initially, this is very citrusy. There’s lemon juice and tinned mandarins. There’s a slight hint of old leather in the background which becomes more apparent the longer it’s in the glass. There’s a mix of strawberry laces, pencil sharpenings and lemon washing up liquid. However, each of these elements is quite subdued. A few drops of water rouses the pencil sharpenings aromas and delivers some hints of orange peel.

In the mouth: Quite a thick texture. Ginger and dark chocolate. The latter appears more towards the end. This is drying and bitter into the finish. There are slight notes of chocolate orange but, really, that’s all I’m getting out of this!

Conclusions

The palate was disappointing; the nose was more promising (if only slightly). It felt as though a few drops of water would help but they actually killed it.

Score: 4/10

Glenfiddich Fire & Cane – Phil’s Review

Colour: bog standard industrially produced whisky gold.

On the nose: pretty clean and light. Pear drops, peaches, foam banana sweets and simple syrup. Some salted lemons, cask char and bbq smoke. Vanilla essence and butter cream. A tinge of white pepper too.

In the mouth: a very thin mouthfeel to this. Honey, caramel, candied nuts, orange oil. Raw ginger heat with chilli flakes and then a light smokiness and cask char. Now soap….soap and even more soap. Ugh! The finish is relatively brief with light smoke, pepper heat and a bar of Imperial Leather.

Conclusions

Just totally unenjoyable. The nose is okay, hints at a possibly decent dram until it reaches your mouth. If I wanted my mouth rinsed out with soap I’d stick to Fairy Liquid and a glass of water rather than spend my money on this muck. Dear Lord this is awful stuff. Avoid.

Score: 2/10

Jason: I’ve obviously had this Glenfiddich as well and not had the benefit of the blind format. I have to say I’m pretty disappointed by it and the hyped reviews that I’ve read elsewhere since. This is a below average whisky and not something I would return to whatsoever. If I was asked for a score I’d be in the region of 2-3 subject to another pour to confirm exactly which. However, I don’t want this have again as the soapiness is really unpleasant.

There are commission links within this review if you so wish to experience this release. As you can see their existence doesn’t influence our view, we’d also suggest there are far more deserving whiskies out there at this price point.

CategoriesSingle Malt
Jason
Jason

JJ is based in Scotland, which means he’s able to reach out and enjoy a wealth of distillery trips and whiskies. Although, it’s more than likely you’ll find him in the Edinburgh Cadenhead's shop or in front of a laptop.

  1. Avatar
    Alex says:

    What timing! I was thinking about buying this, intrigued by a peated Glenfiddich after reading a number of other reviews, but with these low scores from a blind tasting (great idea too) I’ll give this a miss and spend 40 quid on something else. Even taking into account differing palettes and preferences I think the writing is on the wall for this whisky. I have tried the Project XX and IPA experiments and agree with those reviews on the whole, which reinforces what you say in this review. Great stuff – saved from a dud.

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Thanks, Alex, I’d say this is the weakest of the Experimental series so far. I actually returned to it last night, prior to publishing this article, to give it another chance, in the hope it had opened up and improved. Sadly, nope, it is still pretty poor. Even friends who have been visiting here, have been given it blind, and their feedback has been consistently negative.

      I appreciate everyone has a valid opinion of their own, but this Glenfiddich is wide of the mark. Those giving scores around 90-ish are either looking to butter-up Glenfiddich, or afraid to speak the truth. You’ll find better options for your £40 than this. Thanks for the support of MALT.

  2. Avatar
    Jessica says:

    Yep yep yep spot on. I wont say this is the most disappointed I’ve been having spent money on a bottle of whisky this year, because Ive been more disappointed by more expensive bottles. But this is up there. And while I’m generally sanguine about such things, it’s white telling when Malt’s disparate reviewers so starkly pan a whisky under blind review.

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Thanks, Jessica. It’s a poor excuse for a whisky, propelled and peddled by the William Grant industrial machine.

      Hopefully #5 bounces back. Is it so experimental to ask for something worthwhile?

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Sad to hear that Tom. Sometimes you do question if you’re missing something with a whisky such as Fire & Pain when you see so many positive reviews.

      Then you try it again and it’s pretty poor and should be scored as such. We’ll keep the flag flying for truth and value right here.

  3. Avatar
    Michael says:

    The sad part is: they can make pretty good peated stuff – like the bottling for the Spirit of Speyside Festival 2017 (WB #95918)

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Hi Michael

      Yep, that’s the last great Glenfiddich I’ve had. A distant memory now. Since then the Speyside Festival releases have gone downhill and the prices upwards. Just seems the way of things nowadays.

      Cheers, Jason.

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