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!
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.
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.
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.
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.