I've been meaning to finish this one for some time -- I have only half the sample-sized bottle of Glenfiddich 15 left, so I'd better review it before it is gone!
If you have been reading my reviews, you know that I enjoyed the flavor of the Glenfiddich 12 quite a bit, while I found the 18 to be disappointing. I had hoped that I might find the 15 to be just right. Let's see how it fits between the two.
In the glass, the color is very pretty -- a somewhat unusual orange-gold, with a hint of dried clover green. It clings well, with luxurious legs.
So what's on the nose? Right off the bat, there is a potent butterscotch aroma, taking me back to hard candies at my grandmother's house. There are some nice toasted nut aromas, particularly candied pecans. There's a definite toasted coconut note, and marzipan. It's got some peaty phenols in the background, too, that definite Listerine antiseptic note, and some pine forest. Perhaps a little dark chocolate and marshmallow, like a pinwheel mashmallow cookie? Give this one some time to warm and evolve -- there's a lot going on in the nose!
On the tongue, it is quite syrupy; the dry sweetness and butterscotch notes are very pronounced. It is hot and drying, like a brandy, but gently so. There's a little salt and smoke; there's a little bit of lemon, but it's in the background, like lemon oil. There's a bit of cinammon. The finish is quite long, with evidence of all kinds of nuts; I taste those pecans, but also hazelnuts and Brazil nuts. The up front butterscotch is quite different and quite distinctive. The lack of fruit and floral aromas is also distinctive -- I wouldn't use either "honey" or "heather" to describe this whisky. Maybe "treacle," but not maple.
I'm told that the 15-year-old is matured using an unusual scheme in which whisky from 3 different types of casks are used: ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, and new oak. The blend is then aged in a vat made of pine! I'm surprised that I can't taste the sherry much -- I've found whiskies aged in ex-sherry casks to be quite distinctive, sometimes losing some of the other whisky characteristics as they absorb that sweetish, maple sherry note. I usually equate young oak with vanilla, as in a young Glenmorangie, but in this whisky the vanilla is very light. There is a little of that oaky dryness though, and this scheme explains that pine forest note that is always there.
Overall, this is a wonderfully complex balance of flavors. It's sweet, but never cloying; dry, but not burning; peaty, but not overwhelming. The long, buttery, lemony finish is very enjoyable. It would make an excellent dessert drink. I rate it a 9.0 and will probably buy myself a bottle to share with friends.