The Whisk(e)y Week That Was

15 Jan

Snow Phoenix

This past Monday (10-Jan-2011), I attended Glenfiddich’s launch of the Snow Phoenix single malt. If you were not aware, the genesis of this expression was somewhat newsworthy. The Winter of 2010 (last year) was particularly harsh in Scotland, so much so that the accumulation of snow and ice on the maturation warehouses became too much for some of the structures to handle, and some collapsed. Quoting William Grant & Sons, the company that produces Glenfiddich (and many other spirits):

In January 2010, after weeks of heavy snow and record low temperatures, four feet of densely compacted snow covered the Glenfiddich distillery roofs, which housed hundreds of casks of fine aged whisky, gently maturing in semi-darkness.

On the evening of 7th January, in the most remote part of the distillery estate, a number of warehouse roofs dramatically collapsed under the weight, leaving the maturing oak casks exposed to the night sky.  In wintery conditions and temperatures of -19˚C, distillery staff swung into action, working round the clock to clear the snow.

Glenfiddich Malt Master, Brian Kinsman, commented: “Standing amongst the wreckage and exposed casks, we were working out our next steps and assessing the situation.  I was thinking about how the casks, some of which were very old, contained some beautiful whisky and it occurred to me that they would create a fantastic non-aged single malt. A limited edition bottling from the whiskies in the damaged warehouses would be an appropriate way of celebrating the pioneering spirit of the distillery team at this moment in Glenfiddich’s history.”

I have to say that in my opinion, the Snow Phoenix expression is as good — or better than — the Glenfiddich 15. It’s going to be appearing soon in the US at a very aggressive suggested retail price: $89.99. There is no age statement, and Snow Phoenix is being delivered in a beautiful commemorative presentation box. The price is designed such that you could purchase one to collect, and one to drink (most limited- or special-edition whiskies cost [well] over $200). I expect that the supplies of Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix will disappear rapidly: There are only 12,000 bottles coming to the US. Worldwide, I believe that there are less than 50,000 bottles, and I believe that some has already become available at travel retail (duty free) shops. Given the price, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Greedy Angels

Since I am semi-active (last week I read about Twitter addicts who wake up 2-3 times per night to check their @replies and DMs and who sleep with their smart phones under their pillows; those people use Twitter 1000x more heavily than I do!) in the Twitter whisk(e)y community, I was invited to a Twitter-based live Scotch whisky tasting next week. Four sample bottles were shipped to me in early December, but only three made it. I can only attribute this to exceptionally greedy angels, taking their share (and more).

I can’t imagine what my California mailman must have wondered as he was delivering the very wet Royal Mail envelope that reeked of whisky, and sounded of broken glass. You’ll have to wait until 20-Jan-11 at 19:30 GMT to see what we’re tasting. Even I don’t know. 🙂 The hashtag for the event is already active: #wk209. Here is the wreckage of my shipment:


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