French Cognac casks are the star of the show for the newest expression from Glenfiddich, which was unveiled earlier this year, but is now seeing a wider release and an appropriately lush redesign. As the latest, and reportedly final, addition to an elegant 3-part Grand Series, the world’s most awarded Scotch whisky has crowned the short collection with the Glenfiddich Grand Couronne, aged for 26 years. 24 of those years were spent across American and European oak casks, while the final 2 years were spent ageing in ex-Cognac casks. The Dufftown distillery is understandably putting plenty of weight into this release, ensuring it meets the high standard already set by previous Grand Series expressions: the Gran Reserva 21 years, and Grand Cru 23 years.
And by weight, we mean the distillery has truly rolled out the gold carpet for a redesign of the Glenfiddich Grand Couronne, hooking up with contemporary artist David Aiu Servan-Schreiber to give the liquid an appropriately opulent vessel for its limited 50-bottle run. Individually numbered by the artist, each of these bottles come with unique sleeves, designed by David to mirror the marriage between Scottish heritage in the whisky-making, and French flair in the extended finishing.
David’s striking sleeve for the expression features emblematic crackles to reflect the smoked wood grains of the finishing casks, and a gold filigree pattern artwork sprawled across the sleeve in perfect symmetry. It certainly adds a sense of occasion to what will be an extremely rare bottle of single malt whisky to come across in subsequent years. Collectors should be ferociously vying for one of these expressions if they haven’t snapped their prize already.
As most whisky enthusiasts would note, 2 years is an unconventional amount of time to spend maturing in Cognac casks, with the length of the finish, according to tasting notes, adding extra layers of sweet toasted oak and smoother finish of cafe creme, brown sugar, and soft spice.
With its name being the French expression of “Great Crown,” Grande Couronne rounds out of the special-occasion Glenfiddich Grand Series, following the Glenfiddich Grand Cru which was aged for 23 years across American and Oak European casks, before being finessed in French Cuvee oak casks. Both the Grand Cru and Grande Corounne are similar in their marriage of Scotland and France, while the outlier of the series is the Glenfiddich Grand Reserva, which was mellowed for 21 years in bourbon casks before finishing in Caribbean rum casks.
A round of whisky writers from around the world has had a chance to preview the Glenfiddich Grand Couronne 26-Year-Old over the past few months. Some have described the nose as being “vibrant and lively” with “an abundance of toasty oak sweetness reminiscent of a French patisserie,” while others have drawn out polished wood and warm honey with floral impressions and lemon cream. Most seem to agree that the palate is deep and indulgently sweet, typically with liquorice root, dark chocolate, candied orange peel, and “a patina of salt that lingers on the lips.” All tasting notes online indicate a surprisingly long finish of sweet oak and the aforementioned notes of cafe creme, brown sugar, and soft spice.
While the 2 other expressions of the Glenfiddich Grand Series were bottled at 40% ABV, the French crown skews slightly higher with 43.8% ABV. It seems bottles are already thought to come across, but Frootbat currently has one going for $1,331. And it definitely sounds like the newest Glenfiddich whisky release is worth your time, assuming you aren’t already stuck into your Australian whiskies or are currently saving up to splurge on some Japanese whisky.