Even classic Scotch producers are looking for experimental ways to finish their whiskies.
Since the practice was first pioneered back in the mid-'90s, barrel-aging beers in casks previously used for things like whiskey and wine has become one of the most enduring trends in the craft beer world. Probably uncoincidentally, in recent years, whiskey makers have taken a renewed interest in seeking out different ways to finish their spirits as well – including, reciprocally enough, finishing in beer barrels. Even major Scotch producer Glenfiddich has gotten in on the action, last year launching its "Experimental Series." And for its latest release, the brand claims it's made "the first-ever single malt Scotch to be finished in ice wine casks."
Glenfiddich originally kicked off its Experimental Series last fall with the release of Glenfiddich India Pale Ale Cask Finish – adding the world's best-selling single malt Scotch to the growing number of whiskeys jumping on the tasty trend of finishing their products in beer barrels. At the time, the brand claimed it was "the first-ever single malt Scotch whisky finished in IPA craft beer casks." Now, for the brand's third installment in the series, Glenfiddich is trying another first, finishing its single malt Scotch in Canadian ice wine casks.
To create the resulting spirit, Glenfiddich Winter Storm, Malt Master Brian Kinsman visited the Peller Estates Winery in Ontario, Canada. He returning to Scotland with several French oak ice wine casks and began testing out aging different varieties of Glenfiddich in these barrels for six months.
"Only the rarer whiskies, those aged for 21 years, could cope with the extra ice wine intensity," Kinsman said in a statement. "Armed with more tannins extracted from years in oak, these malts brought out a uniquely fresh lychee note rather than being overwhelmed by sweetness."
All that travel and experimentation apparently isn't cheap. Glenfiddich Winter Storm is set to retail for $250 per bottle. However, only 650 cases of this Scotch are set to be released, with the brand stating that "there will be no further releases of the 2017 ice wine vintage," meaning Glenfiddich fans will probably consider this an instant collector's item.