We in the whisky world loves us some back story. It's not enough that a whisky is just plain good; we want a story. We revel in the tales of the master distiller who happened on an old barrel in the warehouse or the storied legacy of a Bourbon, even if in reality it's only been around for five years. The narrative is part of the experience; it gives us purpose, perhaps the sense that we are doing something more than just drinking something; we are part of the legend.
Well, the folks at Glenfiddich have done us proud with the Snow Phoenix. The much repeated story is that in the winter of 2009-2010, there was so much snow in Scotland that the roof of one of Glenfiddich's warehouses collapsed "leaving maturing oak casks of Glenfiddich exposed to the winter sky." The Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix, "risen from the Great Warehouse Collapse of 2010," is a blend of whiskies from the casks in the exposed warehouse.
Now I love a good story as much as the next person, but I have to say, this is a pretty silly gimmick. None of these barrels was opened or spilled, so none of the whisky within was exposed to the elements. The worst you can say is that some of these barrels were exposed to the cold Scotland air, and my guess is that they were exposed for a pretty limited time, compare to say, Shackleton's Antarctic whisky. Other than causing some clouding, cold air really shouldn't have much effect on whisky, so I'm not sure I see why this would make a difference to the flavor, but it's a good story, and hey, Snow Phoenix sounds a lot better than Whisky That Was Briefly Very Cold.
Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix, 47.6% abv ($86)
The nose is sweet and fruity, like fruit hard candy. The palate follows suit. It comes on strong like strawberry candy, which yields to traditional Glenfiddich malt. The fruit comes off as more cherry like in the finish with a bit of sherry influence as well.
If you like them sweet, this one is for you; it's a bit too much so for my tastes but it's nicely drinkable, and of course, it's got a great story.