Brian Kinsman, Malt Master at Glenfiddich, is a man driven by a nigh-on obsessive pursuit for perfection. “For this project I looked back at whiskies which were 20, 30 years old”, he says, speaking to Esquire at the launch of the company’s new online portal, the Glenfiddich Gallery. “I found myself deep in the warehouses, testing these old barrels. In some cases two barrels were all filled on the same day, and have turned out completely different whiskies. Looking at how they matured, where they’ve been kept, what the cooper did at the time - there are so many variables. And for me, that’s the nicest thing - researching those little gems, discovering what’s different.”
Kinsman’s extensive research of the archives unearthed 36 whiskies - “I had to stop somewhere,” he says - which will be made available for the first time via the Glenfiddich Gallery. The service is beautiful and interactive, but also practical; via the answers you give to four questions set by Kinsman, the service matches your palate to a rare, exclusive whisky that you’re (very nearly) certain to love.
It also gives you a result, placing your palate in one of four quadrants - Esquire favoured ‘Spicy & Vibrant’, which sounds about right. Given their age and rarity, the whiskies themselves range in value from £390 to considerably more (congratulations and commiserations in equal measure to the rarefied Glenfiddich Gallery user who discovers that they have a £100,000 palate…) and the offerings can be augmented further with a bespoke colour pattern and label.
It’s an intriguing proposition for both connoisseurs of the spirit and for their friends - what do you get the whisky obsessive who has everything this Christmas? A hitherto-unreleased, uniquely-packaged rare whisky matched perfectly to his-or-her tastebuds, quite possibly. As for the future of the Glenfiddich Gallery? “Oh, we’re going to keep adding to it,” says Kinsman, a man just getting into his stride. “Those warehouses have got many, many more great whiskies in them.” Sláinte to that.