Glenfiddich Winter Storm Review - Scotch whisky with a great Canadian twist

 Photo courtesy of Jamie Johnson (@bourbonthing)

Photo courtesy of Jamie Johnson (@bourbonthing)

Winter Storm is the third of Glenfiddich’s Experimental releases (which includes IPA, and Project XX). This one has a Canadian twist, and it starts with Canadian Brand Ambassador Beth Havers. It was Beth that suggested Canadian ice-wine casks as a potential finishing barrel. Brian Kinsman, malt laster for Glenfiddich, ran with the idea. 

Ontario’s wine region is known for its bright rieslings, dry merlots, and especially for ice wine. The latter is a sweet, concentrated wine produced while grapes remain at sub-freezing temperature. Sugars don’t freeze, and so when the grapes are processed, it’s easy to separate sugars from water from water. 

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of ice-wine. It’s too sweet for my palate. The concentration of sugars from the way it’s made creates syrupy wine. It’s often low in alcohol content (usually contains 10% or less alcohol). This lack of booziness is a unique characteristic compared to many other fermented sweet products (such as ports and sherries) that top over 14% or more.  

Peller Estates was selected for the collaboration, and the project began! Not to be overshadowed by the ice wine cask finish, Glenfiddich 21 year old single malt scotch was selected for this release. Spoiler: The Glenfiddich 21 Year Old stood out beautifully, the ice wine influences are gentle, and the whisky is terrific. 

Canada’s own, Beth Havers, has had a number of influences in Glenfiddich’s production over the last year. Between Winter Storm, and her selection of port pipes for Glenfiddich Project XX, these flavours can directly be attributed to her experience in the whisky industry.

Note: The second batch of Winter Storm is coming out, but because of the rarity in the casks used to make this whisky, there won't be additional releases.

Glenfiddich Winter Storm
Glenfiddich Distillery
Category: Single malt scotch, 21 year old, Ice wine finish
Score: 93

Nose: Familiar Glenfiddich nose, with a ton of brown sugar, candied orange peel, blood orange citrus, dark chocolate, olive oil, and all those great notes. It's a wonderful journey of citrus and sweetness, the perfect start to a sweet single malt. 

Palate: It’s all about the back-palate citrus, with lots of candied lemon notes, brown sugar, and light spice. Pear. Cinnamon. Sichuan pepper. The finish is insanely long, unique, thick, and tangy. My immediate thought with this complex finish is sweet and sour candies. Both of those notes come through so nicely.

★ ★ ★ ☆ Excellent, a near must-have in its category
Brian Kinsman's finesse is ever-present here (the malt master for Glenfiddich). The ice wine finish is subtle. Consider this more like a truffle topping on a delicious pasta dish; where truffles add an aroma and subtle flavour that compliment the main dish, but aren’t the dish itself. While I have trouble recommending a whisky at this price point, if you’re in the market for a $300 whisky, this will be a fun addition to the whisky cabinet.