A really strange thing happens when global economies shake and international uncertainty prevails: high-end lipstick sales shoot through the roof. It’s called the lipstick effect, and it’s certainly not limited to cosmetics…

A quick glance at the exploding premium drinks market is testament to this. Of course, right at the forefront of this trend, you’ll find the granddaddy of premium drinks, whisky – pushing the premium boundaries like never before to ensure its hard-earned position at the top of the luxury drinks category remains untouched.

Closer to home in South Africa, the ever-growing demand for top-end luxury products can be attributed to a burgeoning emerging middle class. Aspirational and looking to stand out, consumers are always on the look out to expand their repertoire and discover new high-end brands that will really set them apart. It’s a field of dreams for a sector like single malt whisky.

A brand at the forefront of this single malt category is Glenfiddich. Founded in 1887, William Grant (with his seven sons and two daughters by his side) set out to fulfil a lifelong ambition. Together they began building his Distillery by hand, stone by stone. After a single year of work it was ready and William name it Glenfiddich, Gaelic for Valley of the Deer. As one of the few single malt distilleries to remain entirely family owned, Glenfiddich is now the world's most awarded Single Malt Scotch Whisky, a true reflection of its founder’s innovative nature, passed down through the generations.

To continue in the tradition of innovation and appeal to a consumer base with an appetite to explore the possibilities, the Glenfiddich Experimental Series was launched – a new range that combines the brand’s passion for pushing Scotch whisky boundaries and collaborating with trailblazers from the whisky world and beyond.

The first pioneering expression in the Glenfiddich Experimental Series release was the IPA Experiment, a single malt finished in IPA craft beer casks carefully selected by Glenfiddich Malt Master, Brian Kinsman and a local Speyside craft brewer.

Soon to be released is the Glenfiddich Project XX (pronounced ‘20’). It’s the ambitious result of a collaboration between 20 whisky experts and Malt Master, Brian Kinsman, who developed one unexpected, extraordinary whisky by bringing together 20 very special single malts. Going against normal whisky making conventions, Brian invited 20 whisky experts from 16 countries around the world to explore and each select a cask from a warehouse at the Glenfiddich Distillery.

Brian’s ambition was to create one remarkable single malt, by combining the curiosity and knowledge of 20 experts. This freedom of choice resulted in a 20-strong collection of some of the most unusual whiskies from Glenfiddich's stocks, amassed and carefully nurtured throughout the brands 130-year-old history.

After each expert had chosen a single cask – from aged malts matured in port pipes to ancient sherry butts and first bourbon casks – Brian skilfully produced the final variant in a small batch vatting.

But that's not all, folks. Over the next few years, Glenfiddich will continue to experiment and push what can be achieved with single malt whisky.

Last word goes to Malt Master Brian Kinsman: "Only by unlearning what we know and collaborating with like-minded mavericks can we try new things, experiment, push whisky boundaries and challenge traditions."


Wade Bales is the Founder of The Wine Society
wadebaleswinesociety.co.za

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