Hello all – it’s been a while!
For those who are keeping score this is the first Whisky Pilgrimage posting in quite some time. Since it has been so long, it is probably easiest to browse through the back-posts and get a refresher on what the Whisky Pilgrimage is all about, the rules of the game, and so on:
Episode 4 – Try it and you may, I Say
What the hell happened?
As you can see, when it comes to meeting schedule I’m starting to close in on a “Chinese Democracy” level of credibility. It just isn’t working out the way that I planned.
In January I was concerned that the 1 bottle / month stipulation was going to be too slow. Surprisingly, it turns out to be exactly the opposite of that. I am enjoying the variety and the focused appreciation borne of this Whisky Pilgrimage, but struggle to keep pace with the schedule. It’s not nice feeling that I’m constantly falling behind…not generating the new content quick enough…and so on.
Having spent about a week cut off from civilization without a drop of whisky in site, I came to a few realizations:
- All Things Whisky is about appreciation of whisky, which has nothing to do with the pace at which I move through the lineup.
- Slow as I may go, this Pilgrimage is far more enjoyable when I share stories and details about the journey. Most of the positive feedback I’ve received has to do with small observations or side stories. And as you might have guessed, these are the things I most enjoy writing about
- So, for better or worse, schedule be damned. Onward with enjoying this all day by day without any artificial pressure to keep to a clock. The world has enough of those already, I needn’t add another!
Where do we go from here?
Despite my laissez-faire attitude towards the schedule we still have a journey to take, and we can’t get there without at least a bit of a plan. One step in front of the other. What I would like to do is continue on with three bottle cycles as planned, keeping in the $150 range for the cycle. Rather than arbitrarily cutting off at the 1 yr mark though, I’d like to add to the queue over time based upon my own personal interests and recommendations from readers. We currently have the following…
- Aberlour 10: $32 (warm, inviting whisky – best value of the bunch)
- Macallan 12: $55 (bold, rich, and demanding)
- Glendronach 15: $72 (warm, sweet, rich – best of the cycle, and worth saving for)
- Glenfiddich 15: $48 (a complex, interesting whisky – good value)
In no particular order, I would like to add Irish and Bourbon to the above list. I’ve never properly been able to get my head wrapped around Irish whisky, and this is exactly the sort of boundary smashing I had set out to accomplish on the Pilgrimage. I am a bit more familiar with Bourbon and will try and plan this cycle to hit right around summertime so that I can enjoy the odd mint julep outside on the deck on those hot summer days.
Any other recommendations or ideas you may have will go on a waiting list, which I’ll revisit from time to time.
And finally, what of Speyside?
Ah, Speyside. I am now on the 3rd and final bottle and have still yet to make up my mind on this region. Complex and subtle whisky requires equally complex and subtle thinking, and I am just not there yet. I will continue to try as I would like to put these thoughts to paper and get some conversation running that might help me to guide me out of the fog.
In the meantime, let’s get you all caught up. My Speyside selection #2 was none other than the ubiquitous Glenfiddich 12.
Glenfiddich 12 is undoubtedly one of the most recognized single malt scotch bottlings in the world and despite my reasonably broad level of exposure, I knew very little about it.
Personal confession: aside from the odd drink on an airplane, the only other notable occasion in which I had consumed Glenfiddich 12 was as the primary ingredient in a shooter called “The Douche Bag”. This charming drink consists of 1 oz of Glenfiddich 12 followed by a 1 oz chaser of pickle juice.
DO. NOT. RECOMMEND.
It’s every bit as nasty as it sounds. Having sampled roughly a 1/2 dozen in one terrifying sitting, I consider myself somewhat of an authority on the matter. Do the right thing and leave the Douche Bags, to well…the douche bags. No more need be said.
Obviously my Glenfiddich 12 education was lacking, and at $32 per bottle this was easily corrected.
I should admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the old ‘fiddich 12. It is a straight-arrow whisky with some nice light floral tones. This type of whisky is particularly nice before dinner on a hot summer afternoon – it is fresh, clear, and not too overpowering. I enjoyed several drams of it in this way and was never disappointed with the experience.
On the downside, you really have to dig in and concentrate to pick up on the complexities, and that job is made more difficult due to the addition of water to bring this down to 40%. Some whisky can handle a bit more water – Macallan 12 in my opinion gets a lot out of a low ABV – but in some cases, the water just cuts the legs right out from underneath a dram. I fear that water is getting the best of this one. If anybody has spent some time with a higher ABV Glenfiddich, I’d be interested in hearing about that.
Glenfiddich 12 is a very friendly introduction to scotch and I can understand its popularity as a first time purchase, a general bottle for the liquor cabinet, etc. However, if you’re picking this one up for yourself, there are much better options even at this price point (Aberlour 10?) and if you’re willing to spot the extra $15 or so, the Glenfiddich 15 is a far superior drink.
Next up will be the revealing of my 3rd Speyside whisky. Other topics to be addressed soon are the long-promised whisky cooking adventure, and my thoughts on Speyside on the whole.
In the meantime I’ll keep moving forward with this journey. If there’s anything that I’ve learned in the past 8 months, slow-footed and haphazard as it may be…this is certainly a journey worth taking.
Thanks for reading along.
A most sincere apology to Clint. He had passed this little missive on to me a few weeks back and I have been delinquent in getting it up here on ATW for all my online mates’ benefit. Sorry, Clint. Good times following you along this path.
One further apology…been fighting off a two week cold. Picked it up in my last days on Islay, and can’t seem to kick the last of it. This has both hindered my motivation and made me question my nosing/tasting ability. (Having said that…everything else seems to taste normal…why wouldn’t whisky?).
More to come. Including all trip details.
I don’t think you need to indulge in any kind of navel gazing regarding your schedule of postings and tastings. The fact is that much as we all enjoy writing, we have lives, wives and kids, need to earn bacon and are wrapped up in jobs, all at the same time. Juggling all these things and still trying to put out a posting or a tasting on some kind of regular plan is (as I have discovered on Liquorature) something of a pipe dream. We do what we can do when we can do it.
As always I enjoy your write ups and look forward to whatever discoveries you come up with on your journey
An interesting take, and of interest to me because it was my first single malt. This is real scotch, but not complicated. On a recent revisit, I still found it fairly edgy for an un-sherried Speyside, but I like Glenlivet more overall. Like you, I did find that water doesn’t help much, and a recent revisit to the Snow Phoenix (47.6% – with a much-improved nose and palate) and the 18 made me think higher ABVs might be a big help to this range. On that note, the Distiller’s Edition 15, at 51%, is in Ontario and might be something to look out for if it comes into wide release. You can do better at price-plus, but I think the 100% malt content alone puts it easily above most blends (a big can of worms, I’m interested in opinions). I haven’t tried it in the summer, but it might well be light enough to shine there.
I’m working in the yard and enjoying my last 1 1/2 drams of Clynelish 14 (God, it’s tasty!). I saw your comment and thought I’d add in. Glenlivet was my first real malt about 30 years ago which I drank along with Chivas and Crown Royal. Had Glenfiddich regularly in bars also. However, a VP introduced me to Glenmorangie and I dropped all the others, as I thought it was much better, and I stayed with it solely until 2-3 years ago. Back then single malts were hard to find where I live, even Glemorangie. We are very lucky to have such a wonderful variety available to taste and discuss. I just bought my son a bottle of Glenlivet 12 with two tasting glasses, along with a bottle of Nadurra, making clear the 12 can be mixed, but not the Nadurra. I see many get picky about certain bottles, but imagine having only Glenlivet and Glenfiddich basic bottlings to choose between. By the way, I now have about 35 single malts in my cabinet, but no Glenlivet nor Glenfiddich. The same goes for beers. We have huge choices now which didn’t exist even ten years ago. This is great but also makes forums such as this so useful. I appreciate the thoughtful analyses by all as it helps in choosing what to buy and what to avoid.
On another note, I have been enjoying a bottle of Longmorn 16 lately, which cost $72 before tax. I just picked up three bottles of the 15 for $39/ bottle before tax, and wondered if anyone had tried either.
Just discovered thus pilgrimage and enjoying what is read so far, what happened?
The author sort of…went his own way. Now accepting applications for guest writing spots. 😉