Brian Kinsman, our Malt Master, is constantly on the lookout for ingenious innovations in Scotch whisky. So when he travelled to Canada, he made a point of visiting a winemaker at a renowned winery in Niagara. Despite the freezing January weather, Brian braved the tour of the vineyards, where he learned how the grapes had to be picked by moonlight at -10°C when they were as hard as pebbles. These stories about extreme conditions and the unique production process of the intensely sweet Icewine were inspirational. When he returned to the distillery in Dufftown, Brian started experimenting with several French oak Icewine casks from the Canadian winery, filling them with different Glenfiddich aged malts for up to six months. What he found fascinated him. Only the rarer whiskies, those aged for 21 years, could cope with the extra intensity. Having more tannins, extracted from years in oak, these malts brought out a uniquely fresh lychee note instead of being swamped by sweetness.
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