The first products of a brand-new initiative called the Glenfiddich Experimental Series have just been revealed by the Speyside distiller. The two no-age-statement whiskies see the company approach whisky creation in a more unusual manner, 'collaborating with trailblazers beyond the world of whisky'.
'The objective to innovate has been [at Glenfiddich] as long as I have,' says Glenfiddich malt master Brian Kinsman. 'We've always tried to do unusual things, and for the past three or four years we've been working to do it, try it, and only if it's good enough, launch it. Of the many experiments we've got in the warehouses, we have these as the first two.'
The first is the result of a collaboration with Speyside Craft Brewery, which designed an IPA to season used Glenfiddich American oak barrels. The IPA is stored in these casks at the brewery for a month, before being transferred back to Glenfiddich, where the whisky used for Glenfiddich IPA Experiment is then added to the barrels and left to mature for a further three months.
'We were involved in thinking about what kind of finish we wanted to achieve for this whisky with the beer - fruity, delicate and floral. And IPA with its citrusy, zesty character seemed a good fit,' explained Kinsman.
It is certainly a delicate, fruity whisky, with plenty of apple and pear, vanilla fudge and jasmine flavours before a drying, slightly malty-hoppy finish comes in - just like after you've had a sip of beer.
The second release, Project XX (Project 20, rather than 'XX') is a more powerful whisky in abv (47%) and flavour. Made from a blend of 20 casks selected by the 20 Glenfiddich brand ambassadors of 2015, who were let loose in a warehouse full of unusual Glenfiddich casks, it contains everything from ex-bourbon and refill American oak casks through to refill sherry and port casks.
It's a heavier, more woody whisky, with characters of wood varnish, rye bread, dried cherries and figs, jaffa cakes and sweet spice intermingling with a distinct cereal flavour.
Neither expression is a limited-edition whisky, with Kinsman explaining that Project XX will continue by using similar casks to recreate the flavour of the original blend.
Keep an eye out for future instalments of the series.
IPA Experiment 43% abv, £45/70cl; Project XX 47%, £50/70cl, William Grant & Sons UK, 01698 843843