Most of us aren’t allowed to travel at the moment. But knowing a bit about the human psyche, some of us can get excessive after being unable to do something for a while. So, I assume the moment we are told the coast is clear to travel again, some of us will be more trigger happy with our spending. There’s nothing like still being high on adrenaline in the airport just as you’re about to fly home. I’m doing my part in helping our readers to decide what travel retail bottles can be deemed worthy or not to bring back home.
I know Jason has expressed his disappointment for William Grant numerous times. I don’t like the majority of the stuff coming from the big brands as well. But Glenfiddich has always been okay in my book. I love their 15 year old. I think their 12-year and 18-year are decent and well-priced. Recent label changes have been questionable for me, but they aren’t as unnecessarily flashy as the other brands.
On the other hand, I do think Balvenie is overpriced. I don’t find their regular releases that unique. Most of it may seem new to whisky beginners, but double maturations and finishes all sound gimmicky and normal nowadays. I guess, it’s partially because of that I don’t find them that much better than Glenfiddich to justify the price difference.
As always, the whisky will do the talking.
Balvenie 12 Triple Cask – review
Aged in first-fill ex-bourbon casks, refill casks and 1st fill ex-sherry casks, bottled at 40% ABV.
On the nose: An initial wave of barley & barley husk with oranges and lemon peels. Then it gives way to an undertone of almonds, toffee and honey. There’s a hint of something zesty lime with unpeeled nuts with a surprising uppercut of ethanol at the end.
In the mouth: Hints of vanilla and a lick of cinnamon stick followed by a quick hello of coffee. Different citrus notes follow but different tastes of oranges are the most noticeable. An assortment of something peppery with honeysuckle, something waxy, licorice, apples and toffee at the end.
A very pleasant and interesting enough single malt which is, I think, held back by the lack of ABV. I don’t know how much this costs in Duty Free or other airports but this is scarily priced at £85a litre via The Whisky Exchange.
Balvenie 16 Triple Cask – review
Aged in first-fill ex-bourbon casks, refill casks and first-fill ex-sherry casks, bottled at 40% ABV.
On the nose: An astringent texture with a long scent of honey, followed by a big and quick smell of orange cough syrup and hints of other citrus. There are quick undertones of toffee, coffee and vanilla afterwards. Apples and hints of pineapple come out at the end.
In the mouth: There’s an off taste that reminds me of loose-leaf tea that’s been used too much. Some sort of acidity, mixed with cloves and vanilla. A moving mixture of apple juice, honey, toffee, coffee and thyme at the end.
There’s less dimension in this compared to the Triple Cask 12. This one has less degrees and has weaker citrus flavors. Again, I just hoped this was bottled at a higher ABV. What is it with the majority of travel retail releases being anemic? I’m seeing online that the average price for this is around £100, or was £99.90 on Master of Malt. About a £15 difference for a 4-year bump? Not bad. But I still think this whisky is overpriced for what you’re getting. I’ll think this is more justifiable if the ABV were at least 43% to 46%
Glenfiddich Select Cask – review
Aged in ex-bourbon casks, European oak cask & ex-red wine casks and bottled at 40% strength.
On the nose: An incoherent mix of apples, orange peel oil, dates, honey, hints of simple syrup and hints of red grapes.
In the mouth: Apple juice, dried dates, barley tea, honey, hints of simple syrup, orange peel oil and undertones of grilled pineapple. Harsh tastes of toffee, hazelnut latte and coffee appear at the end.
This tastes young. Despite the age, this is very easy to drink. But is it due to the dilution or was this blend just made to be really easy to drink? There is no coherence in the flavor. Everything is all over the place.
For something worth about $50? I’ll never buy this. The 15-year solera is way better than this and is cheaper as well.
Glenfiddich Reserve Cask – review
Aged in ex-sherry casks and bottled at 40% strength.
On the nose: Dried apricots, honey, cereals, an assortment of bitter notes that make me think of nut skins and thyme, undertones of caramelized apple mixed with stewed dates and apples.
In the mouth: An initial and lingering bitter taste that makes me think of cork, overused tea leaves, burnt BBQ sticks and rubber. Undertones of honey, toffee, roasted nuts and stewed apples at the end.
This is very pleasant on the nose. I was expecting sulfur notes because of the ex-sherry cask influence. But there were not. This was very lacking in texture, flavor, complexity and finish though. It all falls apart after sipping it. $60 and the worst of the batch? No thanks.
Glenfiddich Vintage Cask – review
Barley peated to 25ppm. Aged in European oak casks and first-fill ex-bourbon casks, bottled at 40% ABV.
On the nose: I get pronounced yet balanced scents of smoke, seaweed, brine, iodine and peat. Behind those are subtle scents of prunes, honey, coconut sugar syrup and dates.
In the mouth: The peat and iodine here are more pronounced. The smoke and norid take a more supportive role. They’re accompanied by more undertones of honey, dates, apricots, peppers and something zingy. At the end is something like a mix of date and honey syrup.
I like this out of all the Glenfiddichs. For one, it’s not very common to encounter a peated ‘Fiddich. This is the most balanced and pleasant of the three travel retail ‘Fiddichs here. Yet, I’m curious to taste an unpeated version of this. Because the other 2 ‘Fiddichs disappointed, I have a nagging feeling the peat covered the faults of this whisky.
At £79, I’ll definitely pass on this. It might be worth buying just to have a peated Fiddich in the collection, but that’s it.
These sample bottles were gifts to me some years ago. Commission links are included above if you’re not at an airport.