In one regard, whisky is like music. Just as everyone can find a song for every time they’ve lost and every time they’ve won, there is also the right whisky for just about any given occurence. Some are made to embrace the occasion, some are made to celebrate the occasion and some are made to crown the occasion. The new Grande Couronne 26yo by Glenfiddich falls into the latter category – at least that’s what the marketeers at the distillery’s parent company William Grant & Sons say about the Dufftown giant’s latest special edition. Sure, when such words come from a professional wordsmith rather than a fellow drammer, we often get a little suspicious. But in this case I must say: The slogan is spot on. The soon-to-be-released pinnacle of the three-piece Grand Series is lush, sumptuous and rich with intense, lasting flavors and aromas. But hey … I am rushing ahead a bit too much at this point. So first things first …
On Thursday, 15 April 2021, me and several dozen other guests (journalists, bloggers, tradesmen, bar folks, etc.) were invited to take part in the virtual Grande Couronne launch event for Germany. Fitting to the cause, the 75-minute celebration was more of a gala than a regular tasting. The programme was both glamorous and informative: There was charming moderation by brand ambassador Markus Heinze and expert mixolgist Chloé Merz. There were live broadcasts straight outta Dufftown with Glenfiddich’s brand ambassador Struan Grant Ralph and malt master Brian Kinsman. There were easy-going musical interludes by the band Babel Collage. There was a super-tasty, pre-mixed welcome drink designed by Stephan Hinz from Cocktailkunst. And there were, of course, three excellent whiskies from Glenfiddich’s Grand Series – paired with three mouthwatering chocolate compositions from Berlin-based pars Pralinen. A grandiose set-up perfectly fit to make the launch of Glenfiddich’s new luxury bottling a top-class, memorable experience!
The stars of the evening – no doubt – were the three single malt Scotch whisky expressions that we savored: Glenfiddich 21yo Gran Reserva (with a rum cask finish). Glenfiddich 23yo Gran Cru (with a cuvee cask finish). And the soon-to-be-released Glenfiddich 26yo Grande Couronne (with a cognac cask finish). In the following portrayal of these excellent malts, I will only briefly come to speak about the Gran Reserva and the Gran Cru. I found them both excellent as well, but for reasons of brevity and focus, I will give the spot in the limelight to the Grande Couronne. So here we go! While we tried try dram number one, the Glenfiddich 21yo Gran Reserva, Struan introduced it as “a beautifully finished whisky with a very tropical flavor profile and nice oak influence”. With its lean, fruity and elegant character, it marked an ideal starting point for our three-stop whisky journey. Dram number two was the Glenfiddich 23yo Gran Cru. It was soft, silky and full of differing facets. The French wine casks, in which it was finished, gave it an impressive depth and a magnificent flavor profile rich with caramel pudding, cherry jam, grapefruit peel and toasted wood.
Then came the moment: the long-anticipated uncorking of the Grande Couronne! As Brian told us, the whisky spent most of its maturation time in European and American oak casks before it was transfered into French cognac casks for more than two years. Despite its considerable length, the finish was “more for resting than transforming the spirit”, as Brian put it. The idea was to induce a subtle but meaningful deepening of the flavors and aromas; or as Brian said at one point: “to elevate the whisky’s inherent decadence”. So how did I like it? Well … I liked it very, very much! The Grande Couronne’s opulent nose impressed me with full, yummy notes of candy apple, pastry, orange, vanilla, quince jelly and even a fleeting puff of perfumed tobacco. The palate started sweet and sugary; then, it quickly turned towards light fruits and fluffy cake. After a while, sturdier notes of milk coffee and cinnamon dust joined in, too. The long finish produced mouth-coating sensations of heavy marmalade, toasted oak, spritzy lemon, juicy mango and tard zest. From the whisky’s many qualities, its baffling complexity was probably the one that impressed me the most: The plethora of different notes interplayed wonderfully with each other, creating a sensorical joy ride with ever-changing focal points. I cannot help but repeat my statement from the beginning: In case of the super-classy Glenfiddich 26yo Grande Couronne, the term “Crown the occasion” is more than a mere advertising claim. After all, this is exactly the kind of bottle you put onto the table to toast an especially rare, cherished and memorable moment!
Glenfiddich Gran Reserva (Single malt whisky / 21yo / Speyside/ Rum cask finish / 40% / EUR 165)
Glenfiddich Gran Cru (Single malt whisky / 23yo / Speyside/ Cuvee cask finish / 40% / EUR 250)
Glenfiddich Grande Couronne (S. malt whisky / 26yo / Speys. / Cognac cask fin. / 43.8% / EUR 500)
Dancing Deer (Glenfiddich 21yo, sherry fino, apricot, orange, pineapple flambé, orange twist)
Red Creme Rose (Creme brulee w/ soft aromas of smoked wood & sugared cherry blossoms)
Green Turqois Gold (Chocolate couverture w/ aromas of fresh baked tullies, citrus & bergamot)
Creme Gold Ivory (Dark chocolate w/ aromas of hey milk, espresso, brown sugar & pepper)
Glenfiddich @ Web: https://www.glenfiddich.com/ (Distillery)
Markus Heinze @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/markusheinzeGF/ (Brand ambassador)
Cocktailkunst @ Web: https://www.cocktailkunst.de/ (Mixology)
pars Pralinen @ Web: https://parspralinen.com/ (Chocolate)
Babel Collage @Web: http://babelcollage.com/ (Music)
Hopf Strategie @ Web: https://hopf-strategie.de/ (Marketing & strategy)
*** I got the invite, the drinks and the other treats for free from Glenfiddich. Thank you. ***
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It was definitely not my regular kind of evening with a dram, a beer and a show on Netflix.^^ The “star of the evening” was absolutely sublime. However, with a EUR 500 price tag, it’s far outside my reach … so I am all the more glad and thankful I got to try it in the course of this tasting.
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