Now, I realize a single malt bourbon is a contradiction in terms, but hear me out. Glenfiddich's latest release in their Age of Discovery limited edition line is very special Speyside Scotch. Unlike the vast majority of its compatriots, this whisky is aged entirely in former bourbon barrels, avoiding the double wood (or more) finishing typical of the region. Releasing an entirely bourbon barrel-aged whisky is a first for Glenfiddich, and the result is unique and compelling.
Aged for 19 years and bottled at 80 proof, the Glenfiddich AoD Bourbon Cask is a subtly powerful whisky. Pouring a glowing burnt amber, a mild yet enveloping aroma of luscious oak leaps out of the glass. Scents of rich leather, citrus, vanilla, and honey mingle. The taste continues with many of the same flavors, deepening and filling out into a robust experience that really lets the malt and wood shine. It's a buttery, slightly spiced affair, with hints of caramel and pear, and the lingering finish brings just a hint of the sweet corn mash of the bourbon that inhabited these barrels many long years ago. Our only quibble: it might have benefited from a slightly higher proof.
Overall it's a whisky that pays tribute to the traditions of Scotch, lovingly showcasing a well crafted malt through the prism of well chosen barrels. The utter lack of any sherry notes and the tease of corn on the finish make you wonder what long-lost bourbon bottle was its twin, even as you swear you can taste its ghost. While the Glenfiddich Age of Discovery Bourbon Cask is a Christmas splurge at $150 a bottle, it's lovely stuff.
About the author: Andrew Strenio is a lover of all things potable. Since sneaking his grandmother's bourbon balls, he's moved on to touring distilleries and sipping snifters. He works by day making documentary television and films as an independent producer in Brooklyn.
Tasting sample provided for review consideration.