Lead by Malt Master Brian Kinsman, the Glenfiddich Experimental Series aims to challenge preconceptions of how whisky is made and what it should taste like. Having already released two excellent whiskies in the collection, they’re now bringing their newest addition, Winter Storm, to Australia.
The first release in the series was the IPA Experiment. The whisky was created in collaboration with craft beer experts by finishing a Glenfiddich single malt in an IPA barrel. The result was a single malt Scotch whisky with hints of citrus, vanilla and hops. They followed this in 2016 by releasing Project XX, the combined vision of twenty whisky experts from sixteen countries. It resulted in a perfect embodiment of a classic Glenfiddich whisky, while adding subtle flavours of apple, pear and summer fruits. Both IPA Experiment and Project XX have found a home on our bar shelves, so we were excited to see what Glenfiddich had come up with this time.
The concept for Winter Storm came after Brian spent time on a renowned Icewine winery in Niagara, Canada. Here he learned about the risky nuances of the Icewine manufacturing process. First, the grapes have to be picked at night, when the sub-zero temperatures make them as hard as a pebble. The grapes must be frozen naturally to be classified as Icewine, but this is also what gives them their flavour. Very few climates are able to achieve this at the right temperature, and picking must happen before they rot or else the grapes are thrown away. Because the ideal climate for Icewine production is so specific, the casks used to store batches are extremely rare.
Brian took his experiences from Canada back to the Glenfiddich distillery, and experimented with several Glenfiddich aged malts inside the French oak casks from Niagara. After six months he discovered that only rarer single malts aged for twenty-one years were able to cope with the Icewine’s intensity without losing their subtle flavour.
As one of the few places on earth with the ideal climate for Icewine production, Tasmania has become the home of Icewine in Australia. For this reason, it was the ideal place for us to travel, to get a greater understanding of how Icewine was made and to sample some Winter Storm before it officially arrived in Australia. Upon arrival at the Frogmore Creek winery, we were treated to a taster of the IPA Experiment and Project XX, a spread of local cheeses and jams, and of course some Frogmore Creek Icewine. After hearing more about the Icewine making process in Tasmania, an ice sculpture containing the Winter Storm bottle was unveiled. The bottle itself is a gorgeous white ceramic head-turner that is nearly as impressive as the whisky inside. Nearly.
From the first sip, Winter Storm was an instant hit for us, a perfect blend of Glenfiddich’s signature taste and the enhanced sweetness from the Icewine barrels. Sweet tones of fruit and Turkish delight are immediately noticeable on the nose; that fruit flavour carries through on the palate and develops into the surprising sweetness of lychee; while the medium length finish sees the sweetness slowly wind down to a more traditional whisky flavour.
Thanks to early releases around the world, Winter Storm has been garnering rave reviews amongst whisky lovers. As a limited edition run, once it’s gone, it’s gone. The RRP is $350 AUD and since trying it for the first time, we’ve been looking to get our hands on a few bottles. If you see it at your local bottle shop and enjoy a tipple every now and again, we suggest you pick one up.