The practice of gift-giving often extends beyond the simple display of affection and generosity. According to Chinese customs, the bestowal of a gift also symbolises a wish for good fortune and tidings towards the recipient. Similar beliefs take place in traditional Scottish customs as well; Handsel Monday (the first Monday of the new year) sees families and neighbours exchanging gifts for the same reason.
In what is perhaps a fortuitous coincidence, Speyside distillery Glenfiddich announces its Chinese New Year gift sets for 2021. The series comprises four expressions from Glenfiddich’s core range: the 12, 15, 18 and 21 Year Old, presented in a special packaging designed by Chinese illustrator Rlon Wang. Wang drew inspiration from Charles Gordon’s (Glenfiddich founder William Grant’s son-in-law) year-long journey from Scotland to Asia and back; an epic trek stemming from Gordon’s dream of sharing Speyside whisky with the rest of the world. Each set comes with a complement of two Glenfiddich tumblers – perfect for sharing a dram or two.
The Original 12
The bright and vivid colours of Rlong Wang’s designs are sure to attract and entice, while the contents within the packaging pay tribute to Glenfiddich’s enduring legacy of producing exquisite single malt whiskies. The 12 Year Old bottling is the perfect entry point and lays the foundation of the rest of the core range. Matured in American oak ex-bourbon casks and sherry-seasoned European casks, this expression yields a sweet and delicate flavour that balances the vanillin common with American oak against the spiciness inherent to its European cousin.
The Solera 15
Meanwhile, the 15 Year Old stands as a unique offering within Glenfiddich’s core range. The distillate is matured in a combination of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and virgin American oak for 15 years, before being married in a Solera tun. Glenfiddich’s Solera system takes inspiration from the sherry bodegas of Spain, and always retains at least half of the previous marriages inside it. The vat has been in use since 1998 and has never been emptied, resulting in layer upon layer of complex flavours and aromas. At 40 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV), the Glenfiddich 15 Year Old is a smooth ride, punctuated by notes of candied fruits, honey and a gentle oakiness.
The Small Batch 18
The 18 Year Old marks a return to traditional methods, building on the groundwork laid out by the 12 Year Old expression. Matured for an additional six years in the same combination of casks, the whisky now exhibits a richer and more complex body. Where the 12 Year Old comes across as brash, the 18 Year Old displays an even-keeled nature. 18 years is a common “sweet spot” for most whisky maturations, and this is certainly the case for Glenfiddich.
The Rum-casked 21
Rounding out the series is the 21 Year Old expression. This is very much the class valedictorian of the core range, while also being the most senior. Similar to the 18 Year Old (barring three additional years of ageing), this expression also undergoes additional finishing in first-fill bourbon casks previously used to age rum. This imparts a sumptuous sweet intensity to the whisky, conferring notes of toffee, molasses and brown sugar. It’s not all sugary goodness; hints of leather, oak and ginger help to balance out this complex expression for a very smooth and enjoyable drinking experience.
In celebration of this year’s Chinese New Year series, Glenfiddich is also including the option of including a personalised augmented reality (AR) message with your gift. Interested parties can access a special website to craft a special message, where a unique link will be generated upon completion. To share this AR experience, simply present said link along with the bottle.