It’s pretty easy to see why Glenfiddich 12 is the best-selling single malt in the world. They’ve got massive global availability, an army of ruthless marketing suits, a long and reputable Scottish history and an eye-catching bottle that tempts the buyer with promises of dewy woodlands, rolling hills and pristine lochs. It even says “Glen” on the label.
Like countless others, Glenfiddich 12 was my first introduction to single malt. In many ways Glenfiddich (and Johnnie Black!) are to blame for what has no doubt developed into a lifelong passion for whisky… and for chipping away a good chunk of my disposable income in the process. Thanks, guys.
First is the fruit – a big recognisable punch of apples. Then a strong sweetness like white sugar, followed by wood smells – oak, vanilla. And finally some nice stuff going on in the back – lemon, caramel and marzipan.
As always it’s hard to tell if the marketing is influencing the tastebuds, but the first thing I taste is the promised Glenfiddich fruit – apples and pears. Liquorice. And lots of strong earthy/herbal qualities – grass, straw, soil and held together with a caramel oiliness. The finish is a pleasant ride out, herbal and fresh.
Water makes the nose more earthy, like pine needles. And as for the taste… a little less pleasant. Becomes more medicinal and herbal, reducing the fruit and emphasising the liquorice.
I really like the Glenfiddich style, which in my mind represents Speyside itself. And the 12-year-old feels like Speyside bottled in its purest form – ridiculously easy-drinking, like earthy apple juice spiked with alcohol. While it could never be considered challenging or complex, the 12 wins me over with its uncluttered, crisp freshness – a reliable Speyside fix and great value to boot.