A Glenfiddich was the first single malt whisky I ever had. I was young and knew nothing about whisky so of course I thought it was good. A lot has changed since then, some of it even to do with whisky, so I thought it was about time I revisited these whiskies and determined once and for all whether Glenfiddich is good.
Overall, Glenfiddich whiskies are good. Most of them are easy and enjoyable to drink and do not have any unpleasant tastes, although some suffer from being a bit too weak, simple and not as good as they could be. I would recommend the Glenfiddich 15 Year Old and the Glenfiddich Fire & Cane as being the most flavorful whiskies and best value for money.
There are 27 different Glenfiddich whiskies over five ranges. I examined the Core Range (5 whiskies) and the Experimental Series (4 whiskies) as the Special Editions were not readily available and the Rare & Vintage whiskies are rare and vintageous which is a fancy way of saying ‘I’ll definitely review them when I’m so wealthy I can afford $2000 for a bottle of whisky’.
If you’re interested in buying Glenfiddich whisky online then visit Tipxy.com (affiliate link) and check out their selection
How I Determined Whether Glenfiddich Whiskies Are Good
I didn’t want to present just my own personal opinion about these whiskies but rather a more general consensus, so I gathered a team of experts (translation: anyone who would help me with this project and who knows a thing or two about whisky) and amalgamated all our tasting notes. I left out those aromas and flavors that were found by only one person and focused on those experienced by more than one member of the group. Descriptors that appear earlier in the coming lists were detected by more people.
Everyone scored each whisky out of 100 and I calculated the average.
The notes after each table are my summary of the general consensus unless otherwise indicated.
While there was some disagreement, the combined results present a pretty clear picture of these whiskies.
Here’s what we found:
Glenfiddich 12 Year Old
- Price: $49.99 approx. for 750ml & $89.99 approx. for 1.75L
This is the most well-known of the Glenfiddich range. It’s matured for 12 years in American oak and European oak sherry casks and then mellowed in oak marrying tuns.
|Color||Amber, golden, yellow|
|Nose||Pear, apple, vanilla, honey, oak, floral, sherry, bananas, malt, cinnamon, cereal, peaches, caramel, toffee, white wine|
|Taste||Honey, oak, vanilla, pear, apple, cinnamon, brown sugar, pepper, cake, walnuts|
|Finish||Short: Oak, spice, malt, honey, lemon zest, apple, pepper, pear|
|Average Score – 78|
On the negative side it’s light bodied, oily, thin and watery and the finish is too short and fleeting.
Nonetheless, the consensus overall was that it’s a clean and easy whisky which is pleasant to drink but perhaps a bit too simple. It lacks complexity and has too few flavors.
It’s a good whisky for beginners especially considering the price. You can buy a bottle here.
Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve 14 Year Old
- Price: $58.99 approx. for 750ml
This whisky seems to be exclusively for the US market. It’s matured in ex-bourbon American Oak casks for 14 years and then finished in charred new American Oak barrels from The Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s a scotch whisky with a Kentucky finish for people who love Scotch and bourbon. It has the classic Glenfiddich flavors of apple and pear with caramel and vanilla from being finished in the new barrel.
|Color||Burnished amber, yellow gold, deep gold|
|Nose||Vanilla, oak, apple, pear, fruity, cinnamon, strawberry, caramel, sugar, peach|
|Taste||Vanilla, apple, oak, caramel, baking spice, brown sugar, char, cinnamon, peach|
|Finish||Short: Vanilla, oak, cinnamon, caramel|
|Average Score – 80|
Once again, the finish goes flat fairly quickly and although the extra 3%ABV does make it more flavorful than the Glenfiddich 12 or 15, it’s still not a very complex whisky.
Nonetheless, it’s still quite enjoyable and easy to drink.
Being finished in charred new American oak casks definitely gives this whisky sweeter more bourbon-like notes but they complement the classic Glenfiddich flavors and don’t overwhelm them, leaving the light fruit notes intact.
The idea behind this whisky seems to have worked and so it’s perfect for bourbon drinkers who want to try single malt scotches.
You can buy a bottle here.
Glenfiddich 15 Year Old
- 40% ABV
- Price: $72.99 approx. for 750ml & $86.99 approx. for 1L
This whisky is aged in European oak sherry casks and new oak casks, and mellowed in the Solera Vat which is a large oak tun. The reason for this is that the tun is never emptied and has been kept half full of whiskies since 1998 which means that the Glenfiddich 15 is potentially blended with some older whisky.
|Color||Amber, dark gold, dark orange|
|Nose||Caramel, oak, sherry, pear, vanilla, honey, cherry, cake, strawberry, toffee, spice, pineapple, banana, plum, grass, orange, malt|
|Taste||Oak, cinnamon, apple, honey, sherry, strawberry, brown sugar, toffee, white, pepper, floral, lemon, malty fresh grain, citrus, ginger, vanilla|
|Finish||Short: Oak, spice, apple, pepper, pear, wood|
|Average Score – 85|
This whisky is quite flavorful for its relatively low ABV and is certainly better than the 12 year old, but it probably would have been even more flavorful had it been bottled at a higher ABV. So despite being more complex it loses some of its excitement for having a low ABV.
On the upside, it’s relatively affordable as it’s not that much more expensive than the 12 year old. You can buy the Glenfiddich 15 year old here.
Glenfiddich 18 Year Old
- 40% ABV
- Price: $118.64 approx. for 750ml
This whisky is matured for 18 years in Spanish Oloroso wood and American oak casks.
|Color||Burnished gold, bourbon brown, light gold|
|Nose||Vanilla, oak, malt, cinnamon, honey, apple pie, green apples, melon, pear, sherry|
|Taste||Oak, cinnamon, vanilla, apple, honey, brown sugar, allspice, raisin, baked apple|
|Finish||Short to medium: Oak, spice, sweet, honey, smooth|
|Average Score – 91|
This whisky has a thicker mouthfeel than the Glenfiddich 12 or 15 but it’s still a bit thin. Once again, the consensus was that the finish is too short, and it would benefit from being less watery and bottled at a higher ABV.
It’s still an easygoing whisky with nothing unpleasant about it and it’s definitely tasty but it’s not that challenging. The flavors could have been bigger. On the other hand the oak, sherry and apple notes are more prevalent, making this whisky an improvement on the Glenfiddich 12.
The major problem is that it’s a bit pricey for what it is. Meaning that if you’re prepared to pay this much for a single malt whisky, you could probably do much better.
You can buy a bottle of 18 year old Glenfiddich here.
Glenfiddich 21 Year Old
- 40% ABV
- Price: $209.99 approx. for 750ml
This whisky is aged for 21 years and then finished in Caribbean rum casks
|Color||Light amber, deep gold|
|Nose||Banana, floral, fruit, sweet, wood, honey, oak, apple, peat, sugar, orange|
|Taste||Vanilla, honey, fruit, ginger, banana, caramel, wood, spice, apple, sherry, malt, spice, pepper|
|Finish||Long: Smooth, dry, orange, chocolate, pepper, spice, wood, oak|
|Average Score – 80|
The Glenfiddich 21 is surprisingly flavorful for 40%, it’s light and sweet with a long finish, it has a decent mouthfeel, and its age gives it a smooth character.
However, the consensus was that it would have been better at a higher ABV, so the lack of complexity does not do this whisky justice. It’s too light and thin with a weak watery feel and no body.
And when you take the price into account, once again you have a bottle that’s expensive for what it is.
You can buy a bottle of 21 year old Glenfiddich here.
Glenfiddich Project XX
- 47% ABV
- Price: $79.99 approx. for 750ml
This whisky was created by 20 (hence the name) whisky experts who chose 20 casks, after which the Glenfiddich malt master Brian Kinsman had to make something ‘nice’ with only these barrels. This is why it’s part of the Experimental Series, but did it work?
|Color||Rich gold, deep caramel|
|Nose||Vanilla, honey, raisins, apple, caramel, pear, honeycomb, floral, dried fruit, banana, prunes, cinnamon|
|Taste||Cinnamon, oak, apple, brown sugar, sherry, almonds, honey, raisins, pear, spice, vanilla custard|
|Finish||Medium to long: Oak, raisins, apple cake, cinnamon, honey, nutty, chocolate|
|Average Score – 81|
The higher ABV helps so there’s an extra richness of fruits and caramel. There’s a lot happening and a good balance between the sweet, spice, and fruit notes and it’s fairly complex, although it’s not amazing. It doesn’t stand out like the IPA or Fire Cane (coming up).
Does this mean the experiment worked? Well, this whisky is not a crashing disaster, so perhaps yes. Something decent was made out of almost random haphazardness. On the other hand, 21 experts were involved so perhaps we should have expected something far superior.
You can buy a bottle of Project XX here.
Glenfiddich India Pale Ale Cask
- 43% ABV
- Price: $69.99 approx. for 750ml
This is the first single malt scotch to be finished in craft India Pale Ale barrels. An India Pale Ale craft beer was specifically created to imbue these casks with hoppy flavors.
|Color||Polished copper, deep gold|
|Nose||Apple, malt, honey, vanilla, melon, caramel, pears, hops|
|Taste||Malt, vanilla, apple, toffee, citrus, caramel, honey, hops|
|Finish||Medium: Vanilla, malt, citrus hops|
|Average Score – 71|
As a whisky this is a simple and fairly decent expression. It’s light and summery with citrus freshness and a creamy mouthfeel, and you can still detect the standard Glenfiddich notes. It has no bad tastes but on the other hand it’s nothing super special.
As for the question of the India Pale Ale influence this was the one thing not agreed upon at all. Some picked up on it and for them it made this whisky unique as it felt like drinking beer, whereas others felt the influence only on the nose but not in the taste or finish. Some even felt the IPA influence was not existent at all.
If you’re not a fan of beer, like me, you may want to keep away from this whisky, but if you do like beer and want to move to whisky, this experimental creation might well be for you. You can buy a bottle here.
Glenfiddich Winter Storm
- 43% ABV
- Price: $285.97 approx. for 750ml
This whisky is aged for at least 21 years in ex-bourbon casks and finished for up to six months in Ice wine casks from Peller Estates.
|Color||Gold, light amber|
|Nose||Fruity, honey, sweet, oak, lychee, dried apricot, orange, pineapple, white grape juice, malt, lemon custard, wine, apple|
|Taste||Fruit, apple, white grape, citrus, minerality, white pepper, luscious, tropical fruit, sweet, powdered sugar, oak|
|Finish||Short to Medium: Oak, pepper, sweet, bitter|
|Average Score – 82|
This is a nice easy sipper with a medium body that’s tasty and highly flavored for 43%ABV. It has enough complexity and contrasting aromas and flavors but would have probably been even more complex at a higher ABV (though that might have meant the white wine would have been overpowering, which is probably the reason why it’s watered down).
Once again there was no consensus as to whether the Ice wine added anything, with some saying it didn’t and that this whisky tasted the same as the Glenfiddich 21 and others picking up a strong Ice wine influence.
The real problem was the price and no one feeling that you were really getting value for that amount of money. But if you want to pick up a bottle you can buy one here.
Glenfiddich Fire & Cane
- 43% ABV
- Price: $44.38 approx. for 700ml
This Glenfiddich whisky is peated, matured in bourbon barrels, and then finished for about three months in Latin rum casks.
|Color||Amber, pale gold|
|Nose||Slight smoke, banana, vanilla, brown sugar, caramel, honey|
|Taste||Smoke, peat, caramel, apple, brown sugar, molasses, toffee, vanilla, lemon, honey, pepper, rum, cinnamon, malt|
|Finish||Medium: Smoke, honey, fruit, brown sugar, toffee, pepper, apple|
|Average Score – 76|
Although the body is somewhat thin, and the flavors could have been richer, this is an easy and pleasant whisky being fresh, fruity and super sweet with a light syrupy texture.
The peat is quite light being present on the palate but not the nose. We’re not talking about an Islay peat monster. It’s also a sweeter peat compared to the more medicinal Islay peat, which compliments the fruitier and sweeter notes of the whisky. Which makes this Scotch the perfect introduction to peated whiskies.
The rum finish made the whisky sweeter, amplifying the sweeter aspects of bourbon cask maturation.
While the peat and rum combination works well overall, making Fire & Cane one of the more interesting Glenfiddich whiskies, their effects are somewhat muted. On the other hand, considering the relatively low price it’s excellent value for money. You can buy Glenfiddich Fire & Cane here.
You can find Glenfiddich whiskies at Tipxy.com (affiliate link)