Glenfiddich 14 “Rich Oak” was introduced to sit between the legendary 12 and the highly regarded 15, presumably to lure Glenfiddich loyalists to start climbing the ladder.
It spends its 14 years in traditional ex-bourbon casks before being subjected to two different finishes: a few weeks in virgin Spanish and American oak. No word about drippy sherry casks, no “first-fill” this and “select reserve” that – just finished in some virgin casks. Refreshing, really. Let’s see what a couple of months in some brand new wood can do:
“Rich oak” is a pretty decent description. It’s rich, and, er… oaky. Spices, candy apples, tropical fruits and old furniture. No vanilla to speak of, but I’m convinced there’s at least some sherry hiding in there. While not the most complex nose – it can be dissected and inspected quite easily – but full and intense. Powerful!
Glenfiddich 14 shows how potent virgin casks can be, and presumably how careful you need to be with them in blending Scotch. This is a challenging pour. Absolutely raw, rough wood flavours, and a sharp bourbon-esque sweetness. Loads of citrus (sour, even), sherbert, watermelon, nuts and some classic Glenfiddich apples. Tasty, but overwhelming – it hits the tongue hot and never lets up. Think less “oil painting” and more “finger painting” – it feels somewhat directionless and undefined, lots going on but not saying very much. If this makes any sense at all.
I’m not crazy about the finish here – unfortunately it develops into something quite palate-searingly bitter, and the woodiness becomes almost stale on the tongue, like licking granny’s favourite armchair. Of course, this has the pleasant side-effect of making you drink more of it (by design, no doubt) but if you’re looking for a creamy, lingering experience this isn’t it.
I’m happy to report that a few drops held up pretty well, as did some ice – those intense flavours give you a lot of room to work with despite the standard ABV. The unpleasant finish is tamed, and it becomes significantly more sippable. Water recommended!
I’ve got mixed, but leaning-towards-positive feelings about Glenfiddich 14. On the one hand it’s a really rich, potent little dram that gives you a lot of whisky for the money. On the other it’s a little too feisty and fiery, like a child continuously screeching for attention. Charming at first, but it gets old fast.
Although mood plays a big part here, I’d say it’s more enjoyable for a whisky lover than the 12, which will always be an easy-sipping single malt for newcomers and diehards. The 15-year-olds (both the Solera and the Distiller’s Edition) are truly something special and worth the price bump.
Would I buy a bottle? Probably not, but I look forward to tackling it again in the near future. Cheers!