I told you, not long ago, during my visit to Dufftown (epicentre of the world whisky), that I had taken a tour of the Glenfiddich cellar n°8 (epicentre of the epicentre!) - see here the tasting-.
And I also told you that the tasting ended in a club chair with Brian Kinsman (epicentre, of the epicentre of the epicentre!) to taste a high-flying whisky: the GLENFIDDICH 26 year old GRANDE COURONNE.
So here I am, sitting in my club chair, in front of a fireplace above which is a painting of a "dance scene in a living room" by the Austrian artist Johann Georg Platzer (an 18th century Flemish school artist) in a warm atmosphere, ready to taste this beautiful nectar.
I had already had the opportunity to taste it during an exceptional master class evening in the company of Jérôme Kaftandjan (brand ambassador in France) in the private lounge of the Whisky shop in Paris Place de la Madeleine.
Tonight, as the fire crackles in the fireplace, Brian Kinsman presents me with the bottle adorned with golden scrolls and a "26 years" written in large letters!
Before tasting it, he introduces it to me.
The GLENFIDDICH GRANDE COURONNE is the culmination of the distillery's trilogy of special editions.
It follows on from the whiskies I have already had the opportunity to taste: the 21 year old GRAN RESERVA (see here the tasting) and its Caribbean volutes, the 23 year old GRAND CRU (see here the tasting) and its champagne air without bubbles.
This time, it is getting older again with a 26 year old whisky (we can't wait for the next series .....).
As an exception was needed to ensure that the ageing of this whisky was worthy of its luxury, it is logically towards France ( ;-) and I'm not saying that out of chauvinism ! ) that Brian Kinsman has once again turned to France.
After an ageing period of 24 years (after all) in ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso sherry casks, the already valiant distillate has been put into ex-french Cognac casks for two years.
Worthy of its rank, this whisky was then slipped into a case at its height in a box whose bottom is strangely reminiscent of the painting hanging above the fireplace in a very Versailles-like atmosphere.
The liquid that flows into the glass specially designed for him is a light amber colour.
To let him recover from his long sleep and enjoy all that he has to offer, he needs to stay in the open air for a few minutes!
Let's move on to the tasting:
As is often the case with a whisky of this age, the three successive passages, which will take you on a journey, are not going to be marked and frank, but subtle, revealing successive layers as they pass through the glass.
At the first pass the nose discovers a finely woody and sweet distillate. Before entering the glass completely, we discover a beautiful smell of star anise which reinforces the forest and slightly spicy side. Then, the strength of the spice dissipates to give way to a great softness, a certain warmth and already some nice sweet notes.
On the second nose, you have to close your eyes: think of your grandmother calling you as she takes the tarte tatin out of the oven. A warm smell of apple with a good steaming caramel. However, it will retain a certain woody astringency and also a spicy background.
The third pass will oscillate between a sweet warmth followed by a new spicy freshness that will remind us of the time spent in a cognac cask.
In the palm of the hand (if I dared) it is the same thing, first of all it reveals its origins with a fresh barley smell then it shows its age with rather warm sweet notes.
Beware ! the journey deserves to last ! As Richard Paterson, the great sage of single malt, taught me, a whisky of this age deserves one second per year of work in its cask. The journey must therefore last almost 30 seconds here!
This whisky is sweet and soft at the beginning. Nevertheless, spices quickly reveal themselves. Then comes a hint of harshness from the cognac cask.
It then conceals a certain woody freshness (Signature du Cerf) and a return of spices in the cheeks. It then becomes warm, pastry-like and honeyed.
It then regains a certain vigour with even a return of our aniseed and then softens again on new sweet notes. However, with the long Spanish ageing (oloroso), it keeps some spicy banderillas and knows how to remain lively despite its age.
The 26 seconds of travel are over and it is inexorably worth swallowing.
The very long finish. At first on a gentle downhill slope, this finish will be a little more spicy and warm in the throat when the woody side comes up in the mouth.
The empty glass will keep traces of apple and caramel in the long run.
What a beautiful journey in front of this fireplace!