Courier whisky columnist Brian Townsend looks back at one of the good things to come out of lockdown, thanks to an online Glenfiddich auction
Last week I mentioned how the coronavirus crisis had torpedoed many whisky-linked festivals and other events this year.
One of them was the Speyside Whisky Festival, which attracts thousands of whisky lovers from throughout the world and involves a swathe of Speyside distilleries, with events and samplings at many locations along the famous river.
All distilleries involved aim to produce special festival bottlings, sold to fans during the festival. This year, Glenfiddich’s special Spirit of Speyside bottling was distilled on May 24, 2007, matured in an ex-sherry cask, then hand-selected by their Malt Master, Brian Kinsman.
The 450 bottles come in their own select wooden boxes, boasting a hefty cask strength of 65.7% abv and individually numbered and signed by Mr Kinsman.
With the festival cancelled, the 450 bottles were auctioned online by Whisky Auctioneer, of Perth, from May 17-22 and the entire £240,000 auction proceeds went to charities in Speyside and to NHS Grampian.
£240,000! We want to say a massive thank you to everyone who made it possible to raise this amount through the online auction of our Spirit of Speyside 2020 limited edition. 100% of this will be donated to local Speyside causes affected by Covid-19. #SpiritOfSpeyside pic.twitter.com/1KLw9LZgKo
— Glenfiddich Whisky (@GlenfiddichSMW) June 23, 2020
In all there were 13,000 bids. Bottle No 1 fetched top price at £6800, with the remaining 449 bottles commanding bids from £400 to £3200.
Scotch whisky is awash with legends—and Glenfiddich is among the greatest. Opened in 1887 in Dufftown by William Grant, distillery and company have ever since remained a family-run business, now in its fifth generation.
Glenfiddich is today the biggest historical malt distillery, joined by The Balvenie and Kininvie distilleries on the same site and Grants’ vast grain distillery near Girvan in Ayrshire.
Decades ago, Glenfiddich spearheaded the global demand for single malts and for years has been the world’s top-selling single malt. Grants’ Stand Fast is a global top selling blend and the firm’s wide spirits portfolio includes Hendrick’s gin, Sailor Jerry rum, Monkey Shoulder blended malt, Ireland’s Tullamore Dew and Drambuie.
So what does the Glenfiddich Festival bottling taste like?
In a nutshell, it is the best Glenfiddich I have ever drunk, and I have sampled many variants in my time. Sipped neat, it is overwhelmingly strong (hardly surprising, with two thirds of it pure spirit), but with water subtly added, it is superb, with sherry hints from first nosing through to the smooth, head-filling finish.
If you successfully bid for a bottle, lucky you, whether you keep it or drink it.