Subscribe to Cigar Aficionado and receive the digital edition of our Premier issue FREE!

Email this page Print this page
Share this page

Glenfiddich Gives Bourbon Its Due

Jack Bettridge
Posted: January 10, 2014

Whisky makers don't often give shout-outs across national borders, but Glenfiddich, the brand that fairly made the market for single-malt Scotch whisky in America, raises a glass to its kinship with American Bourbon in the second of its Age of Discovery releases.

Age of Discovery Bourbon Cask Reserve is a 19-year-old single malt aged entirely in ex-Bourbon barrels, a first for Glenfiddich. It follows an earlier Age of Discovery release that was finished in former Madeira casks. The company, which began exporting single malts to the United States in the 1960s, calls the latest issue "a toast to the American Bourbon industry."

In an instance of reverse emigration, the vast majority of casks used in Scotland today are born in the America as Bourbon barrels. The United States regulations for straight whiskey require that new charred oak barrels be used with each distillation. Stateside distillers can reuse them for blended spirits, but most are sold for aging other spirits, mostly Scotch.

Interestingly, the Age of Discovery marks the first time a Glenfiddich has been fully aged in Bourbon barrels. Single malts may be married from cask to cask, using wood used in other maturation, for instance former Sherry or Port casks. Another development of the last few decades has distillers "finishing" their spirits, which is a term for applying a short extra maturation in a different type of cask.

The imagery on the package, which maps the Mississippi River and includes such nineteenth century icons as paddle wheels and steam trains, is meant to recall the journey that Bourbon originally made from its birthplace in Kentucky downriver to New Orleans. It is said that this is one of the early instances when the beneficial effects of aging was noticed. By the time the raw, new-made whiskey made its way South, it improved in flavor. (Bourbon Straight: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey by Charles K. Cowdery is a good read on the history of the era.)

The name Age of Discovery is perhaps quite apt as many anecdotes of people first noticing the amelioration of wood maturation come from the era when long voyages of exploration and colonization kept spirits in casks for months or years as they tossed on the water.

Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman has said, "This release celebrates the adventurous spirit we share with intrepid explorers." Whatever the prompting for this thawing of whisk(e)y relations, we toast it for creating another fine union between cigars and spirits.

(Cigar pairings on next page)

Glenfiddich Age of Discovery Bourbon Cask Reserve (80 proof, or 40 percent alcohol by volume; 19 years; $149.99 a 750-milliliter bottle)

APPEARANCE: Light brassy color, slight greenish hue. Slow, fat legs.


1 2 >

Share |

Comments   2 comment(s)

hanging chad January 10, 2014 2:24pm ET

Is Glenmorangie Original 10-Year aged entirely in Bourbon casks?
What other Scotches age, or "finish" in Bourbon casks?


JACK BETTRIDGE — NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES,  —  January 10, 2014 4:14pm ET

Yes, Glenmorangie Original is all from first- and second-fill American oak. Glenfiddich's entry level, a 12-year-old, is a mix of American and Sherry wood. Because of the wide availability of Bourbon barrels, just about every Scotch maker uses them in part. The anomaly for Age of Discovery is that it is the distillery only whisky exclusively aged in American wood. In the cases of finishes, the whisky is first aged in former Bourbon wood and then treated to a finish in something else like Port, Sherry, wine or even rum casks--not the other way around. Glenmorangie is credited with originating the process.


You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In If You're Already Registered At Cigar Aficionado Online

Forgot your password?

Not Registered Yet? Sign up–It's FREE.

FIND A RETAILER NEAR YOU

Search By:

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

    

Cigar Insider

Cigar Aficionado News Watch
A Free E-Mail Newsletter

Introducing a FREE newsletter from the editors of Cigar Aficionado!
Sign Up Today