Glenfiddich's Distillery Edition has gone through a few phases - first released in the 1990s, it disappeared until the 2000s when it was reintroduced. It has been produced regularly since then, but the bottle itself went through a refresh some years ago, while the liquid inside has nominally stayed the same.
While superficially similar to the standard 15 Year from Glenfiddich, the DE is composed from a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks married together, instead of the solera system of the standard 15 Year, and bottled at 51% without chill filtration.
Thanks to Michael Kravitz for this sample.
Glenfiddich 15 Year Distillery Edition (2013)
Nose: fresh honied malt, light fruity sherry, raspberry/blueberry, a touch of chocolate, floral vanilla, a little mint/pine. After adding a few drops of water the sherry gets kind of sour and washes out most of the other components.
Taste: mildly sweet up front, undergirding malt throughout, sherry roundness balanced with moderate oak starting around the middle, a little mint at the back. After dilution it gets a little bit softer with much more sherry influence and expanded oak, while the mint slides in behind the oak at the back and gives more vegetal character going into the finish.
Finish: sherry residue, light chocolate-y oak, dry malt, a touch of chili pepper and mint, a little drying
While my perception of this whisky has changed significantly since I first tried it more than five years ago, it remains the one and only Glenfiddich I would buy with my own money. It reminds me a lot of Balvenie Doublewood or Founder's Reserve, with the moderate sherry influence over clean Speyside malt, but with much more presence from the higher bottling proof and lack of chill filtration. And considering the price inflation from its sister distillery Balvenie's releases, Glenfiddich DE has remained rather reasonable given its age and strength (compare to Balvenie 12 Year Single Cask, which is younger and lower proof for about the same money). While I wouldn't call it flashy, this is a solid malt at a respectable price if you can get your hands on it. Quite a shame that Glenfiddich's importer has stopped bringing it to the States, so our only chance will be in duty free shops abroad.
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