Last night saw the Cape Town launch of Glenfiddich's new 26YO Excellence Whisky at the celebrated Pot Luck Club Restaurant.
It feels strange calling something that's 26 years old 'new'. Ian Millar, the Global Brand Ambassador, was on hand to take us through some of the Glenfiddich range, starting at the 12YO and culminating in the 26YO, and he had a novel way of putting that much time into perspective.
"Consider how many years you spent at school," said Ian. "Most people start at about age 5 and leave high school around 17 years old. Those 12 years feel like a lifetime, yet that is how long our youngest single malt sits in a cask."
If you'll pardon the expression, a sobering thought.
As we made our way through the range to progressively older whisky, the investment of expertise and time became ever more palpable in each expression. The thing about time is that it's incorruptible; you can't buy it will all the money in the world, nor can you imply age with flowery language or marketing gimmicks. Like a golfer's score or a batsman's average, it is irrefutably quantifiable. A number that simply is.
|Ian Millar, Global Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador|
"Now try to imagine what you were doing 26 years ago," continued Ian Millar. "In fact, are there any of you in this room who were not born yet? If so, kindly hand your glass of Glenfiddich 26YO to the person sitting to your left."
Ian's comment, although made with tongue firmly in cheek, further illustrates the point. This is not to say that older is automatically better (see a previous post on the merits of aged liquor), but it almost always is.
Time in the barrel softens the whisky, often imbuing it with a delicate and floral character. This is certainly the case with Glenfiddich Excellence, a whisky created to honour Glenfiddich's line of continuous family ownership since William Grant founded the distillery in 1887. 26 years maturing in American Oak ex-bourbon casks have left it with hints of spring blossom, violets, sweet peas and a subtle green leafiness on the nose, and a balanced flavour of dry tannin and soft brown sugar vanilla, with undertones of spice and liquorice shining through.
Hold on tight or risk
Just before it was time to finally taste the 26YO, Ian issued a warning: "In Scotland, any whisky left on a table is considered to be in neutral territory and is therefore fair game."
Needless to say, everyone suddenly gripped their glass of the precious liquid a little tightener.
The evening was a real treat. While the whisky flowed, a steady procession of waiters made their way to the tables throughout the night – under the watchful eye of Luke Dale Roberts himself – with food fit for a king. If you have not been to Pot Luck Club in Cape Town's Old Biscuit Mill, I'm not surprised because the waiting list is long! But if there's one thing you can learn from the makers of Glenfiddich, it's that patience is a virtue, so give them a call on 021 447 0804 and book a table now.
|Luke Dale Roberts, head chef and owner of Pot Luck Club|
If you are interested in purchasing a bottle of Glenfiddich Excellence 26YO, I am reliably informed that the recommended retail price will be somewhere between R4,000 and R4,500. For a whisky of that calibre it is good value, so break out those piggybanks!