Glenfiddich likes to think of itself as a pioneering brand.
The single malt was first bought to the international market in 1963 and ever since it has owned a position as best known, highest selling and most awarded. It was with no small degree of excitement that I accepted an invitation to join Ian Millar, the brand’s principal storyteller and distiller for the Australian launch of the 14 year old Rich Oak.
The tasting was spread over a delicious dinner at Rockpool Bar & Grill. On the whisky front, we were invited to sample a dram of the 15yr old Solera and given a short but rousing presentation on the Glenfiddich distillery. The next part of the tasting involved the two whiskies that are married together to produce the Rich Oak. Presented at cask strength, the Spanish Oak (58.2%abv) and American Oak (60.2%abv) finishes were discernably different, despite a relatively short period of six to twelve weeks against the virgin wood.
For those of you wondering what the hell that means, you might have noticed a trend in the market to “finish” whiskies in a barrel (cask, hogshead or butt are also common terms) that has contained another product, say port or sherry or bourbon. With Rich Oak, Glenfiddich has set out to showcase what the wood itself, untouched by other liquid can add to the flavour and finish of the whisky. These virgin casks deliver a lot of flavour in not a lot of time and the resulting liquid is quite delicious.
Following on from the cask strength tipple, which was conducted blind (as in blindfolded) we got to wrap our lips around the finished product. Somewhat unsurprisingly, it had wood present in nose and taste, but not in an overly tannic way; plenty of fruity floral notes, an established hallmark of the Glenfiddich family of scotches.
The tasting notes probably offer slightly more in the way of colour to this story.
- Patiently matured for 14 years, Rich Oak is then delicately finished for 12 weeks in untouched American and European oak casks – an innovative first for the single malt Scotch whisky industry.
- Initially spicy oak notes and rich vibrant vanilla. Hints of freshly sawn wood and dried fruits, raisins and apricots. With time, some softer toffee notes appear caramelised pear and gentle fragrant floral aromas.
- Mouth tingling and spicy on first tasting. The rich vanilla sweetness is followed up with zesty fruit flavours and some wood spice. The taste is very lively and the finish lingers for a long time with warming, oak notes.
The Rich Oak will retail in Australia for a touch under a hundred bucks.
The evening continued with the range of Glenfiddich whiskies being offered up. 12yr old, Rich Oak 14yr old, 15yr old Solera, 18 yr old, 21yr old, 25yr old, 30yr old and as an astonishing and final treat the 40yr old.
Best Whisky tasting. Ever.
As a final piece of interest for the event, the brand recognised five Australians. It will be interesting to see how this platform is used going forward, but I for one thoroughly enjoyed talking with Tim at my table about his Everest experiences.
I’ll let their press release tell the rest of the story:
The five ‘Pioneering Australians’, selected by Glenfiddich, were announced as:
· Tim Macartney-Snape, legendary mountaineer from the Southern Highlands, NSW. Tim was the first Australian to summit the world’s tallest peak, and later became the first person to climb it from sea level.
Australian Value: Achievements in life are a product of their talents and efforts
· Nick Galli, designer from Canberra, ACT. Nick designed a new product to prevent spinal injuries for snowboarders called ‘A New Angle’ – a product that he is hoping to adapt to other sports.
Australian Value: Supports Australians love of sport
· Rebekah Campbell, social commerce entrepreneur, lives in Sydney, NSW. Rebekah is the CEO of Posse.com, an e-commerce business which links musicians, venues and events with consumers.
Australian Value: Supports Australians enjoyment of visual and performing arts
· Michael Zarimis, musical inventor from NSW. With no music background, this forward thinking genius came up with the idea of using a digital guitar to bring to life the sounds of electronic music
Australian Value: Australians have a strong record of innovations
· Professor Peter Newman, sustainability expert from Perth, WA. Peter is the Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University and best known for his work in saving, reviving and extending Perth’s rail system
Australian Value: Caring for the environment in the pursuit of public good
The “One Day You Will” campaign aims to inspire people across Australia to pursue their own dreams and fulfil their own pioneering ambitions.
Glenfiddich Marketing Manager Roman Vargha said: “Our mission is to truly be pioneering, by challenging convention in everything we do. Following the success Glenfiddich has enjoyed globally with this campaign, we were keen to find Australian Pioneers that also represented a true Australian value(1).
Each Pioneer was presented with a personalised bottle of Glenfiddich 14 Year Old Rich Oak by Glenfiddich Global Brand Ambassadors Ian Millar and Barry Chalmers, making a rare visit to the country from Scotland to launch the product in the Australian market.
Glenfiddich Global Brand Ambassador Ian Millar, said: “When we began our hunt for our ‘Pioneering Australians’, we searched for five people that were truly innovative in their respective fields. Glenfiddich has sought to recognise these amazing Australians by personally acknowledging this”.
“Congratulations to Tim, Michael, Rebekah, Peter and Nick on becoming Glenfiddich’s inaugural ‘Pioneering Australians’. They are Pioneers in the truest sense of the word.”
(1) As outlined on the Australian Government, Department of Immigration and Citizenship website (http://www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/values/)