Glenfiddich 15 Solera Vat

Having reviewed Glenfiddich 18 here I thought I’d best put up my review of what I judge to be the best malt in the core Glenfiddich range: their 15 year old solera.

So what does “Solera” mean? Basically a solera vat is a big container in which spirit is married for a kind of extra maturation. What you do is bottle a certain amount of the vat’s contents and then top it up fresh. Over the years the complexity of the spirit develops as new batches are married with old. It is common for sherry and, I believe, brandy, and here Glenfiddich have done it with their 15 year old spirit.

The result? Here are the dramstats:

  • Price paid £30
  • ABV 40%
  • Age 15 years

Nose: Rich christmas cake, sherry soaked raisins and dark grape. Rich and malty but with dates, a touch of blood orange and a very pleasant note of fig rolls.

Palate: Grape hits first then cherry, blood orange, malted milk biscuits, fig rolls.

Finish: Slight oak then malted milk biscuits dipped in tea with lingering faint fruit and barley sugars.

Verdict: Tasty, a real session dram and excellent for only £30. Even though it’s 40% and chill filtered (and probably with caramel but it doesn’t say) it is very complex and entertaining. Something that shines on the supermarket shelves and should be flying off! One to enjoy whilst making your christmas cake this year!

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Glenfiddich the distillery and the 18yo

Glenfiddich is one of the pioneering single malts. When everyone was pushing blends and malts were unfashionable, Glenfiddich toured the world and gained status as the number 1 selling single malt in the world. A prize that I believe it still holds.

The distillery, sitting just on the edge of Dufftown in Speyside is a must visit. The free tour is interesting and includes three drams from their core range (the 12, 15 and 18 year old expressions).

The real reason to go however is for their excellent cafe. It’s the best cafe we’ve been able to find in the area, serving a good quality range of hot food as well as the more traditional lunch fare of sandwiches and cakes. All of this in front of an open fire and with a bar well stocked with whisky from the grants range. Any tour of Speyside distilleries should plan lunch at Glenfiddich and, whilst you’re there, why not take the tour?

Anyway I digress. The main subject of the review is their 18 year old expression, which I picked up from a supermarket a while ago for around £40. Here are the dramstats:

  • Price: Around £40 (It was over £50 in the distillery shop)
  • ABV 40%
  • Age 18yo

Nose: Vanilla, cinnamon, baked apples and pears, nutmeg. There is also a “crumble note” so that we have all the ingredients of baked apple crumble and custard. Oak steps in to have it’s say and there is nice interplay between the oak and the warm fruit and vanilla.

Palate: Just like the nose with sweet baked apple, mild cinnamon spice and custard, with a wave of pepper leading into the finish.

Finish: The pepper wave lingers and then fades to a drying oak before the baked apple makes a short, but welcome, reappearance with a lingering custard note.

Verdict: If anything warranted the tasting note “smooth” this is it. A real beginners malt with lots to enjoy about a fairly simple nosing and tasting experience and no harsh alcohol burn. If you buy this expecting an easy ride and a pleasant session dram, you won’t be disappointed. If you are looking for complexity in a whisky this is not for you. From the core range, the Glenfiddich Solera 15 is a much more complex, and, therefore, for this reviewer, a more enjoyable and value for money dram. I will be reviewing this very soon.

At £5 more expensive than it’s superior younger sister, the Glenfiddich 18 is not a whisky I will be buying again. However, you shouldn’t let that put you off. It is a good whisky and a very enjoyable drink. At the moment it is my go-to beginners whisky for guests who claim they don’t like whisky. It is a dram that can really get beginners into whisky, more so in my opinion than the 12yo. For you more experienced whisky drinkers, there is more fun to be had for £40 elsewhere.

To end on a slightly more positive note, I want to add that I’ve been back to Glenfiddich distillery, just to visit the cafe, since my first visit. I’ve also recommended it to friends who have then been and raved about it. If you go anywhere near Speyside, do not miss Glenfiddich under any circumstances and plan your day around eating lunch (and dinner?) in the cafe there.