Solera refers to the technique of fractional blending, in which a vat is constantly topped up with new liquid (typically fortified wine or brandy) as a proportion is drawn off for bottling. (It’s like filling a gas tank when it’s still three-quarters full rather than completely empty.) This ensures that the vat’s contents represent a blend of older and younger liquids while maintaining a certain consistency of flavour.
It’s not the norm for whisky, where generally small casks are pulled from the warehouse and blended together all at once for bottling, but Glenfiddich employs the solera system for this excellent and well-priced malt. Whiskies that had spent 15 years in a variety of woods – namely former American bourbon casks, Portuguese sherry casks and new oak – were married in a giant vat made of Oregon pine. The vat is always kept partly filled, so the bottled contents have spent at least 15 years in oak but there is always a proportion that’s been floating around in that Oregon pine for much longer.
The result is a rich and rounded spirit, with succulent fruit and smooth caramel, vanilla and raisin. It gets oaky, smoky and toasty in the second act. Very easy to drink, and especially attractive as an after-dinner dram. For each bottle sold, Glenfiddich donates $2 to Wounded Warriors Canada, the non-profit organization that assists injured Canadian Forces members. $75.99 in B.C., $67.95 in Saskatchewan, $69.95 in Manitoba, $71.75 in Quebec, $64.99 in New Brunswick, $64.95 in Prince Edward Island, $65.99 in Nova Scotia, $56.95 in Newfoundland.