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Glenfiddich 50

by Gavin D Smith, 08/09

Glenfiddich is best known as the world's leading single malt brand, but owners William Grant & Sons Ltd have also been keen to offer a significant number of rare and old bottlings of their headlining whisky over the years.

In 2002 they launched the Glenfiddich Rare Collection, which featured a limited edition of just 61 bottles of 1937 spirit, reckoned to be the oldest Scotch whisky on the market, and each year a Vintage Reserve expression, usually distilled during the 1970s, is released.

Another veteran bottling took place back in July 1991, when 500 bottles of a 50-year-old vatting from nine casks laid down in the 1930s went on sale, and this summer, Glenfiddich has followed up with a second offering of 50-year-old whisky.

Retailing at around 10,000 a bottle, this is the distillery's most expensive expression to date, and just 50 bottles of it will be on sale each year for the next decade. The whisky has been sourced from two casks, laid down half a century ago in warehouse no. 8 at Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown. Prior to bottling Malt Master David Stewart married the contents of the casks for six months in an American oak barrel.

The result is a golden amber coloured whisky with a complex nose, which offers floral notes, tobacco leaf and a hint of smoke. The palate is initially very sweet, with orange marmalade and vanilla toffee, after which aromatic herbs, floral and soft fruits, silky oak tannins and gentle smoke develop. The finish is notably long, with a touch of dry oak and a suggestion of peat.

Glenfiddich chairman Peter Gordon, who is the great-great-grandson of distillery founder William Grant, notes that "At Glenfiddich, nothing is more important than producing the world's best whisky. We're happy to wait as long as we need to - up to 50 years in this instance - to produce the perfect whisky. The Glenfiddich 50 Year Old is the pinnacle of our whisky-making excellence and epitomises my great-great grandfather's vision of creating the 'very best dram in the valley'."

Each hand-blown, numbered bottle includes a leather-bound book detailing the history of the whisky, along with a certificate of authenticity signed by four of Glenfiddich's long-serving craftsmen. Initial availability is at selected international airports, but later this year Glenfiddich 50 Year Old will also be on offer through a small number of specialist retailers.

However, anyone with an eye for a (relative) bargain could do worse than scour the internet for remaining bottles of the previous 50-year-old release. Examples can be found for under 4,900 - less than half the price of the latest offering! See

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