Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Lady In Waiting – Glenfiddich 125 Year Anniversary Dinner

The peated Glenfiddich 125th Anniversary Edition. Check out the legs on this one.
Recently, 15th October 2013, I had the pleasure of attending the Glenfiddich 125 Year Anniversary Dinner held at Centennial Parklands Dining, Centennial Parklands Sydney and hosted by local Whisky Specialist at William Grant & Sons James Buntin. You may know James from around the local whisky traps as his energetic nature, slicked locks, and pruned beard are hard to miss at any whisky event. But if you don't you will at least recognise his legs as I swear I have seen him in a kilt and sporran more often than anything else. Be sure to check out more about James over at The Whisky Ambassador.

James presenting the Glenfiddich 125th Anniversary 1987 Vintage Reserve
As part of the celebration we were treated to a 3 course meal and the opportunity to taste the very limited edition Glenfiddich 125th Anniversary 1987 Vintage Reserve. Only 286 bottles have been released globally with only 8 bottles allocated for sale in Australia. Valued at $1,200 a bottle it is not exactly the grab and dash kind of buy but certainly it is a whisky to purchase and drink if you have the ready cash as it tasted pretty darn good and it would be a real shame to see these beauties collect dust on a shelf somewhere.

Ideally Centennial Parklands was a fantastic location, not only because of the scenery, classy restaurant, attentive waiters and excellent chefs, but also because the parklands is also celebrating it's 125 year anniversary. Seems an ideal choice.

cocktails and pipes to get things started
A breakdown of the evening started being piped in the door and presented with the cocktail 'And see my baby' as an aperitif. A combination of Glenffidich 15yo mixed with Pedro Ximenez and Plum Bitters it was enjoyable. In fact I had this whisky before at the Glenfiddich Pioneers party but I can tell you the one we had there had a few more wee drams muddled into it in comparison to this reserved lass. Still a nice cocktail to get things started. Following cocktails was a brief presentation by Anthony Dunsford, Director Visitor Experience at Centennial Parklands and then onto an introduction by James Buntin before we were seated and served a 3 course meal of Glenffidich infused goodies paired of course with Glenfiddich. After our meal the highly animated head chef Paul Kavanagh gave us a breakdown of the meal before divulging just how much 21yo went into the desert, which was a lot. The menu was as appeared:

Welcome Cocktail
"And see my baby" by Adam Bastow (Finalist of the Glenfiddich Pioneers Cocktail Competition). Glenfiddich 15yo stirred with Pedro Ximenez and plum bitters.

Glenfiddich 12yo cured salmon, beetrootbeetroot relish and citrus aioli. Served with Glenfiddich 12yo.

Oregano and Glenfiddich 18yo glazed chicken breast, potato fondant, sauteed spinach and roast vine cherry tomato. Served with Glenfiddich 18yo.

Vanilla creme brulee, orange chocolate and raspberry garden with a honey and Glenfiddich 21yo infused ice-cream. Served with Glenfiddich 21yo.

Tea and Coffee
Dark Truffles. Served with Glenfiddich 30yo.

PR Release of The Glenfiddich 125th Anniversary 1987 Vintage Reserve

The Glenfiddich 125th Anniversary 1987 Vintage Reserve is claimed as being "one of the rarest whiskies ever released by the whisky maker " and is the most recent addition to the Glenfiddich Rare Collection. This whisky was laid down in 1987 in a single European oak sherry cask and is bottled at 55.2% ABV.

Unlike some other events over the years this time round I had a good amount of time to really take in the star whisky of the night Glenfiddich Anniversary Vintage. The evenings prior meal was so well balanced against the accompany whiskies that I do not feel I had suffered and bleed of flavours into my pallet. My tasting notes for the Glenfiddich 125th Anniversary 1987 Vintage Reserve is as follows:

Colour was pretty amazing and reminded me of a dark coffee liquor with a high viscosity seen in the glass on swirling (many whisky specialists will tell you a swirl does nothing for a whisky in the glass but I have personally found a lot can be deducted in a short swirl such as alcohol content (climbs the glass), colour, and or course more surface contact equals greater amounts of bouquet). On the nose christmas cake, ginger and of course sherry. Taste had a sense of sweet maple syrup and moved like silk across the pallet before excited green citrus peel, then a rich ginger spice intensity roared in the throat. For a 25yo I failed to sense any lumbering old oaks coming to the forefront tainting the flavours which is impressive for its age. Balance was pretty good and I drunk my dram way to quickly even though I think I was still the last to actually drain the glass. I honestly do not think anyone realised its alcohol was so high, and I certainly did not. Even now with still dirty glass claimed on the night still in its box for me the whisky fairies smell of a super spicy ginger. James was noted as saying this was possibly the best whisky he has ever tasted (hope I got that right). I would have to say it was pretty spectacular but I am not sure I could have had too much of it too often as the sherry flavours were very frontal. But was it the star of the night? For me maybe not, as the lady in waiting seemed to have just as much appeal.

Glenfiddich 125th Anniversary Edition and package
As part of the 125 year Anniversary Glenfiddich has also released the much more accessible and affordable Glenfiddich 125th Anniversary Edition (similar name as the Anniversary Vintage but not to be mistaken for. Bit of a stupid marketing mistake really) at around $150 a bottle. With a No Age statement and bottled at 43% ABV this is like no other Glenfiddich whisky you have have probably tasted, but then when it is the first peated Glenffidich you would expect so. On nosing and tasting I had all the seaside familiarities of a Laphroaig but not so intense on the salts. The nose also delivered creamy floral notes with a medicinal smokiness a bit like burnt pine needles. To taste again the creams and honeys that quickly turned to smoky hot spice remaining on the tongue a good 10min to 15min after tasting. Peat was fresh I guess you could say and not so astringent as Islay peated whiskies. In my hastily jotted notes James had indicated this was smoked using Speiside peat taken from the local forests. Though James's verbal tasting commentary mentioned it did not have the medical qualities found in a Islay I would have to say contrary and that the salts and brine are surely there. This whisky was exciting. Right from the start of the night I held onto the empty glass to nose as we tasted other more standard Glenfiddich expressions to see how different it really was and I can tell you those around me I forced the glass on surely were agreeable to the concept. Of course by the end of the night when the bar opened this was the only whisky I chose to explore more even though a bottle of 30yo was sitting right next to it begging to be sampled. Right now this bottling is only available duty free but indications on the night is that we will see it on our shores soon at your local Dan Murphy's.

Also on the cards was the ever present Glenffidich 12yo, 18yo, 21yo, and the classy 30yo but still the peated 125th Anniversary Edition took the podium for me.

Some of the action at the table
I have clearly mentioned in past posts I am not a Glenffidich 12yo fan by any means choosing a Glenlivet 12yo over it any day, yet in my limited experience it is clear Glenffidich pick their casks well and the whisky retains a graceful vibrancy even in their elder vintages which is something many other whiskies do not fare so well in.

An excellent job and really appreciate the invite to the party by way of William Grant & Sons, Glenfiddich, and Weber Shandwick.

The Baron