It's fashionable for "advanced" whisky aficionados to criticize big distilleries and turn up their collective noses at all their offerings while lauding smaller craft distillers for being small and having "the courage" to put out 3 year old whisky. I'm not entirely sure "courage" is the reason smaller/younger distilleries are releasing young whisky but hey, I'm not a professional writer or whisky critic. The whisky market is still growing and big players are taking some (measured) risks. Smaller and newer distilleries can't always afford to take the same chances. They don't necessarily have the inventory or sufficient name recognition to gamble on whiskies that may flop.
Glenfiddich is the world's biggest single malt producer. They've got the brand recognition most other distilleries would love to have. They've got tons of inventory, and to their credit, they do their fair share of experimentation.
The conception of Project XX was so "shrouded in secrecy" and according to the Glenfiddich website "the whisky experts taking part didn’t even know about it until half way through the process. Given free reign of our Conval Warehouse, each expert chose a malt which most intrigued them, including whiskies from port pipes, American oak, and bourbon barrels." Now there's no age or specific breakdown of cask types given on Glenfiddich's website. I have to say I've often been disappointed with "secret project" whiskies. When you're as cynical as I am, "secrecy" translates to "they had some sub-par casks they needed to get rid of"...at least in my mind. Like I said, I'm cynical. Be that as it may, I decided to give Project XX a go.
Neat from a Glencairn glass:
- Nose: green apple, pears, nutmeg, cinnamon, some red grapes, vanilla, brown sugar
- Palate: medium bodied, cinnamon, baked apples, slightly nutty (almonds and hazelnuts), Thompson raisins, a bit of chocolate, oak
- Finish: medium length, pears, baked apples, cinnamon, vanilla, a touch of orange zest, caramel, black pepper
This is a spicier, more amped-up 'fiddich and I dig it. Project XX is bottled at 47% abv and it makes me wish that more Glenfiddich offerings were available at a higher strength. I've admitted on many occasions that I have a soft spot for Glenfiddich and Project XX passes the taste test.
- Would I accept a glass if I was offered one? Yes.
- Would I order this in a bar or pub? Sure.
- Would I buy another bottle? There's a good chance I will.