A few months ago I was in the local supermarket when I saw a mini-pack containing three miniatures of Glenfiddich for less than a tenner. I snapped them up as my only previous experience of Glenfiddich has been the 12, which I've had in bars several times, and the 15-year-old distillery edition which I scooped in last year's whisky advent calendar.
When I took them to the checkout, the young woman at the counter asked me for ID. I stared blankly at her for a few seconds, before she broke the silence by laughing and said: "I'm only kidding. There's no way you're that young!" I laughed along with her - then cursed her all the way home. The cheek of it!
Anyway, 15cl of Glenfiddichs have made their way down my throat and here's what I thought:
Glenfiddich 12 - 40%
On the nose, the 12 is light, floral and delicate. There's also hard boiled pear drops, hints of toffee and caramel, juicy red apples and a slight woody note. It also carries a hard, mineral, flinty smell. Not unpleasant, though.
There really isn't much going on in the mouth. Those apple notes come rolling back - as do the light floral character. I also got a little cinnamon and a papery taste.
The finish isn't complex, but I did get some gooseberries, sharp apples, caramel, some dry wood, toasted cereals and white pepper.
Glenfiddich 14 Rich Oak - 40%
Immediately, there's much more going on here. Underneath the buttery wood, there's a sweet jam taste, baked lemon, dried fruit, gentle cinnamon, citrus vanilla, a wee bit of smoke and blackcurrant Chewits. It's still quite delicate, though.
Taking a sip, it was initially sweet and jammy - but wood - sawdust - cuts right through the pallet. There's also a little baked apple, burned brown sugar and nuts. I also found it a little too spirity for my liking.
The finish was really, really dry, while those apples dropped in again, along with plums, toffee, liquorice and cinnamon. I also found a wee sour note at the back.
Glenfiddich 15 The Solera Vat
Right off the bat there's fizzy orange and blackcurrant sherbet. Wood then start to assert itself, with a hint of butter icing, sweet lemon and apricot jam. There's also a hint of light marmalade spread on granary toast.
In the mouth, it was sweet with orange notes. Quite a nice syrupy mouth feel, along with spicy cinnamon-dusted baked plums.
The finish was perhaps the best part of this dram, with lots of red fruit jam, creamy vanilla, white pepper, nutmeg and red liquorice laces. But the best part was right at the end, with a strong malty chocolate note which reminded me of a Tunnock's caramel wafer.
These three drams might not be the most complex malts on the planet, but they were all enjoyable and very easy going. The Solera Vat stood out from the other two for me and I could easily work my way through a bottle. Good value, too, if you're after a session dram.