It is generally acknowledged that the Glenfiddich 12 year old entry level malt is a bit simple and unchallenging for most malt drinkers, but the older Glenfiddichs offer much more in the way of flavour and complexity. So in theory, your 15yo should be a notch above "ordinary"!
I believe the Glenfiddich solera works in much the same way that a sherry solera system is operated. Instead of all the casks being combined for a single, once-off vatting which is subsequently bottled, the solera is a large vat which is continuously topped up with new malt each time a portion of it is drawn off for bottling. So at any one time, the solera has a portion of whisky that has recently been added, combined with portions that have been in the vat for considerably longer - arguably a portion from the very first original filling should still be present. So the solera is a constant work in progress, with the new and old constituents continually being married and altered with each subsequent top-up. "The Living Cask" by Loch Fyne Whiskies operates in much the same fashion.
I don't know whether the Glenfiddich Solera Reserve has more of a sherry influence than the regular 12yo, but many seem to think it is smoother, sweeter, and creamier than its younger stablemate. When I last had a bottle, about 18 months ago, I recall finding it a little out of balance, but I've read other posts on this forum from people who enjoyed it tremendously. I suspect your conclusion of "decent, but not great" is appropriate.
Hope this helpful.
I found it a little too fruity for my liking . The sherry is fairly pronounced and that throws a glenfiddich somewhat off balance.
Would rate it way below the 18yo on complexity and richness... perhaps a notch below the 12 yo too?
I'd agree that it is below the 18yo, in complexity but it is miles better than the 12yo. The 12 is very light, almost too light, while the Solera gives a bit of oomph, possibly due to the sherry... and then you have the 18yo...stewed apples and granny's homemade crumble..Yum!!
It's hardly challenging or complex on the palate, there are hundreds of better drams out there, and yet the simple, humble Glenfiddich 12yo is still the biggest selling malt. And so knowledgeable malt drinkers shun and resent it.
Michael Jackson says something similar of the Glenlivet 12yo in his book....because it is so widespread and readily available, people assume it must be ordinary. When, in fact, it is actually a very good dram. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that a garden variety malt - one that is mass produced and widely available - can still actually be very good.
People who shun or resent Glenfiddich 12yo because of its lack of sparkle or "oomph" on the palate fail to realise that it is precisely because of this that it sells well. By offering something plain and simple, you are more likely to be attractive to a greater cross-section of the market.
I would agree with M J on the Glenlivet too. Personally, I find it rather unremarkable. I re-visited the malt last week hoping to discover something I might have missed out the last few times that I tried it but continued to be disappointed at the absence of any oomph whatsoever. Seagram's marketing muscle may have a bit to do with its recent popularity.
Having said that, most of us owe Glenfiddich a lot. In a generic sense, they are the ones who popularised malts which in turn spurred distribution and reach for the others, which have since gone on to become our favourites.
Imagine having to make trips to Scotland to buy our Bowmores.
solera is a great intro to single malts for non-malt drinkers.
their 12 is simple, yes but also very cheap and price/quality like one of the best; we pay like 20$ a bottle or less. the 15 CS isnt all that special but still sweet and decent. The Solera, erm i probably will hurt alot of people's feelings here, but its for me personally the worst fiddich around. it has complexity that only the 30Y can beat, but i found it very unbalanced, probably due to the 3 cask system.i have tried it 5 times now and gave up. however i do believe everyone here saying that on Cask strength it rules, when i visited Glenfiddich i didnt ask to try it so i take your word for it. as for the rest, the 18 is in my opinion very very good, the 21 year wich is finished on a rum barrel is by far the best fiddich around, even more it is one of my favorite speysides. the 30Y is complex and balanced but i expected it to be different. however if in the right mood its a suberb dram.
also i had no idea in the US JW black was so popular, for me i like it alot too, but my friends all hate it. they are all the time worshipping Famous grouse wich i think is good too, but black is better.
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