RKS Spirits: Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch: Memory Lane and Scotch Schizophrenia

Glenfiddich in the scotch world is a tried, true and tested name. The scotch was matured in Oloroso Sherry and Bourbon casks. Glenfiddich has been family owned and run for five generations and counting quite like the Symington’s Port dynasty in Portugal’s Douro Valley.

As memory serves me I recall early experiences with spirits aboard a now defunct charter airline based in Kennedy Airport in New York called Overseas National Airways. There were quite often southern church groups flying on my flights and they would be hollering at the stewardesses (as they were then referred to), “Hey Honey another 7 and 7!” I figured out that this was 7 Up and Seagram’s 7 Rye Whisky. Rest assured in the 1970’s on these charter flights it was the hard stuff and beer (unfortunately predominately Budweiser).

Having this memory on an Air Canada flight this September from Athens to Toronto I ordered a Johnny Walker Black Label Scotch over many rocks as its duration is extended and changes its character as the ice slowly melts. It makes the time pass. I took a walk up the aisle to investigate what passengers in steerage were drinking. Mostly warm beer as airlines, except for Lufthansa, do not understand what a cold beer is. If any spirits were being consumed in the aisle I walked down I didn’t see any scotch. I did see some rum and cokes and the ever-popular Bailey’s Irish Cream. No shouts of “7 and 7 Honey !” The point being scotch was not in heavy demand. Of all the people I know only one appreciates scotch. Wine rules the day but of note in the past few years there has been an attempt by some spirit producers to market the fact that Millennials are now enjoying spirits although based on my observations in Europe the young folk are happily imbibing cocktails. Patio crazed Millennials here in Canada seem thirsty for craft beer, a step up from Bud.

Is scotch a drink for fuddly old men? If so what a shame. Many single malt scotches are complex and multi layered spirits and several blended scotches are not far behind. Single malt scotches are a product of one distillery and aged for a minimum of three years in oak. Blended scotches can be whiskies from more than one distillery.

Good blended scotch and single malt scotch can be served neat , with water or on the rocks. Over the rocks might be the best way to see a schizophrenic side to scotch. As the ice melts and the volume of water increases the scotch takes on different personalities. So with the Glenfiddich why not try it in the three different serving styles.

 Glenfiddich 12 Neat

Aromas of apricot, peach, tangerine and butterscotch. On the palate a glowing warm burn coats the mouth with a long finish where the short flames settle down into embers gently warming the palate. So Glenfiddich 12 as far as aromatics go is intriguing as a wine can be. On the palate a certain spiciness pervades with notes of Seville orange marmalade, honey and sticky toffee with a gentle woodiness folded up nicely in the glow of the aftertaste.

Glenfiddich 12 Over the Rocks  

Ice used should be from filtered or spring water. Chemicals in tap water such as chlorine and fluoride will distort the taste of the scotch. The ice will chill down the scotch and give it a different character. Best to avoid the term “dilution” and perhaps say it alters the taste profile. Large cubes will slow down the volume of melted water. What water does is tone down the intensity of the spirit. The Glenfiddich 12’s aroma does alter with ice as suddenly ginger wafts up to the nose and the woodiness retreats as water tends to supress ethanol molecules and the flavours extracted from wooden barrels. On the palate the alcohol burn is almost eliminated with the scotch becoming a far gentler creature. The length of the finish decreases. I like my martinis shaken vigorously and never stirred. I like my scotch with ice. You can adjust your consumption speed as the ice melts.

Glenfiddich 12 with Water

Water added is a constant addition to the glass unlike ice that increases water volume as it melts. It is remarkable how a few drops of water mellow the scotch aromatically and from a flavour perspective. The warm glowing burn retreats substantially.

However you consume your scotch Glenfiddich 12 is a high quality scotch. Why not give yourself a treat and buy a bottle and give it a taste, neat, over ice or with a few drops of water. You may surprise yourself as to what serving style you prefer. In fact you may discover a style that wins you over Glenfiddich 12! You may decide you have been missing something very special for all these years.

(Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch, $69.95 Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 12385, 750 mL)

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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