Glenfiddich Fire & Cane is the fourth release in the "Experimental Series". It's matured in ex-bourbon casks for an undisclosed period of time and then finished for 3 months in "South American" rum casks. It's bottled at 43% abv, and there's no mention of chill-filtration or colouring, so I'll assume E150a is added and that the whisky is chill-filtered. This is another time-lapse review. I apologize if this is too long.
Tasting Notes January 7, neat from a Libbey Bourbon Glass
- Nose: sweet, light brown sugar, pears, green apples, pineapple, oranges, a slight suggestion of smoke
- Palate: light body, molasses, more apples, a hint of smoke, some cinnamon
- Finish: relatively short, caramel, cinnamon, oak, a touch of peat
- Thoughts: the peat and smoke are quite subtle from this freshly opened bottle. The rum cask influence is also subtle albeit present enough to make this an interesting variation on the Glenfiddich theme.
- Rating: 86/100
Tasting Notes March 5, neat from a Glencairn Glass
- Nose: sweet, citrus fruits (oranges and lemons), earthy peat, green apples, a touch of woodsmoke.
- Palate: light bodied, green apples, pears, earth, a bit of pepper, tobacco
- Finish: medium length now, some cinnamon, a bit of overripe banana, more earthy peat and woodsmoke, caramel, a slight soapy-floral note creeps in. It's not prominent, but it detracts a bit from what is otherwise a very pleasant experience.
- Thoughts: I don't know if the soapy note is a result of the whisky itself or if my palate is "off" in some way tonight.
- Rating: 84/100
Tasting notes March 14 neat from a Highland Whisky Glass
- Nose: green apples, pears, citrus fruits, brown sugar, a bit of cinnamon, woodsmoke, a touch of earthiness
- Palate: light to medium bodied, pears, brown sugar, vanilla, pineapple, oak
- Finish: medium length, earthy peat, cinnamon, woodsmoke, more vanilla, a bit of musty oak, a touch of liquorice. No soapiness this time. Must have been a one-off last time. There’s some lovely fresh pipe tobacco notes lingering on the tail end of the finish. This one gets better if it gets a good rest in the glass.
- Rating: 87/100
Tasting notes March 19, with water added, tasted from a Canadian Glencairn
- Nose: pears, green apple, earthy peat, brown sugar, oranges, pineapple
- Palate: light to medium bodied, brown sugar, oak, pineapple, fresh tobacco, earthy peat
- Finish: medium length, vanilla, smoke, earthy peat, and yes, that soapy note is back. It could be my palate, or it could be something else entirely. Once again, it's not incredibly prominent, but it's perceptible enough to detract from the overall experience.
- Rating: 84/100
For the most part, I enjoyed this malt. The peat is different from a Laphroaig or an Ardbeg. I'm not sure if Glenfiddich peats their own malt, and I'm unsure what type of peat they're using but it is distinct. It's not as iodine heavy as what you'd find on Islay. The tasting notes on Glenfiddich's (US) website reference a "Highland Peat campfire" so perhaps the peat is sourced from mainland Scotland. The whisky is in rum casks for 3 months which seems like a very short finishing period. The rum influence doesn't dominate yet it is present. Maybe that was the goal. As to the soapy, slightly floral note: this was the biggest question mark for me. I didn't always perceive it, but it was present in the finish some of the time. I'm no expert but Dr Don Livermore's excellent "Canadian Whisky Flavour Wheel" suggests that the note may come from the yeast. Ethyl Laurate, Phenyl Ethyl Acetate, and Phenyl Ethyl Alcohol seem the most likely sources of what I'm tasting. A different flavour wheel, found in a David Wishart article suggests the soapy flavours are a result of an "estery" whisky. I'm not sure what to make of all of this, as I'm left with more questions than answers. This certainly isn't a boring experience.
- Would I accept a glass of this if someone offered me one? Absolutely
- Would I order this in a bar or pub? Yes
- Would I purchase another bottle? I'm not sure. Even after a full bottle, I'm left a bit perplexed, so I'll say "unlikely to re-purchase". There's more sweet than peat, and it's definitely better neat, but for the price there are bottles I like better. I don't regret the experiment but I don't think I need to repeat it either.
Final rating: 85/100