Keen observers – ‘fans’ is pushing it a bit – may have noted that I started with the 15, proceeded to the 18, and have now come back to the 12. Why did I do this? A stroke of genius, perhaps, or a brilliant overarching conclusion that finishes with the 12 year old? Well, no. Quite simply, it’s because I was planning on going in chronological order, but lost the notes I’d made on the 12 year old. Hang on, you make notes? I’m afraid so. And someone, somewhere, will have found them lying around my university’s campus. Even more worryingly, they can be traced back to me. How? Alas, because I hastily made them on the back of an invoice. Snigger all you like.
Yet those ‘keen observers’, and perhaps even the person who’s doubtless stolen my identity, may have picked up some clues about the 12 year old in my previous two Glenfiddich reviews. Some whiskies elude the nose, and take time to reveal their character; this one reveals it almost instantly. Thwack! comes a full-bodied smell of pear. If you like pears, you’ll absolutely love this smell; if you hate them, avoid this whisky at all costs. It’s so strong and recognisable that you’ll be amazed it’s actually whisky in the glass. Adding a touch of water – which I do with almost every whisky – calms it down slightly; you no longer feel like you’ve stuck your face in a tarte tartin, and it allows some of the oak to emerge. Pleasant, just unidimensional.
Its taste is very fruity and very sweet. The pear still tries its best to dominate, but it’s mellowed by other aspects finally coming through – it slowly develops a soft, woody flavour, which is warmed by the emergence of butterscotch. It’s slightly too saccharine for my palate; ideally, some spice or something else other than sweetness would balance this whisky perfectly. The finish is once again dominated by – yes, you guessed it – pear. But it deserves some credit here: it’s long, fruity and the oak returns with a final delicate flourish. The palate has been left in a nicer state than before the whisky went in.
There’s nothing wrong with this whisky by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s a crowd pleaser. But it’s just too sweet. It doesn’t offer anything new; it struggles to excite time and again – one dram suffices. The Glenfiddich 12 is the world’s best-selling single malt and it’s undoubtedly a pleasant drink – especially if sweetness is your thing – but there are better. If you opt for a dram, its ubiquity guarantees you’ll find it close to hand.
Nose 17 Taste 18 Finish 19 Balance 17