Boozehound: Glenfiddich 18 Year Old Scotch Whisky review

Glenfiddich distillery pot stills
Copper pot stills at the Glenfiddich distillery in Scotland. — photo by Jack Shainsky

This week we’re plunging directly into the world of single malt Scotch.

Of all the types of whiskey out there, single malts tend to be the most expensive in the whisk(e)y category and the intimidation factor can be high. Compared to a good old-fashioned handle of Jim Beam bourbon or Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey, single malts, with their fancy packaging and expensive price tags, can seem to be more of an inconvenience than anything else. So, is it really worth the price tag?

I think it all depends on what you look for in your booze. If you’re in the mood for a mixed drink or if you’re looking to have a party and get hammered, pass on the Scotch. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something to sip and savor, then you may enjoy a good single malt.

Single malt Scotch is like a really long book that you can’t put down and don’t want to end. To be considered single malt Scotch, the liquor must be made from only one grain: malted barley (other whiskeys, like Bourbon, use a mix of grains like corn, wheat and barley). Single malt’s are also made in pot stills (as opposed to the big, commercial column stills) at a single distillery. The result is a handcrafted whisky that you’ll want to appreciate until the very last drop.

While the extra attention and care in the production process means the price might be a little hefty, a bottle of single malt lasts if you take time to enjoy the nuances of flavor and aroma, as well as the pleasant buzz.

Despite what some purists might tell you, there is absolutely no wrong way to drink a single malt. Figure out what works for you: If you like it with a touch of water, an ice cube or straight out of the bottle, there’s no wrong answer when you are in the presence of a tasty Scotch.

So how do I review whiskies? Well, there are four main factors: color, aroma/smell, palate/taste and finish. Together, paying attention to these four aspects should give you a good idea of what a whisky will be like. Now that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business and take a peek at the Glenfiddich 18 Year Old.

Glenfiddich is part of the reliable trifecta of Glens (along with Glenmorangie and Glenlivet) and available at most liquor stores that have decent whisky selections. Glenfiddich means “valley of the deer” in Gaelic, and you will notice the presence of the stag on all their bottles. The Glenfiddich distillery has a history that dates back to 1886 and offers a range of whiskies that includes a 12-, 15- and 21-year-old, in addition to extensive special edition and vintage whisky selections.

Aged in Spanish oloroso wood and American oak bourbon barrels, Glenfiddich 18 Year Old is an award-winning single malt and the perfect drink to ward off the season’s lingering chills while welcoming its oncoming warmth.

Golden in color, there’s a subtle darkness to this whisky giving it an amber-colored tint. The aroma is subtle and sweet, with notes of apples, cinnamon, brown sugar and molasses. The apples and cinnamon that are evident in the smell show up in the taste. Overall, Glenfiddich 18 Year Old has a light body and goes down easy. The warming sensation from the alcohol is gradual, pleasant and makes drinking Glenfiddich 18 Year Old a very pleasant experience, indeed.

If there’s a mild downside to this whisky, it’s the price: The older they are, the more money they cost, and the 18 Year Old will set you back $83.99 at the Hy-Vee Drugstore up on Rochester. Because of that, I’d say that if you’re looking to break into single malts and get your feet wet, save your money and go cheaper. But if you’re a single malt fan and haven’t gotten around to trying this one yet, what are you waiting for?

Grade: A+

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