Review: Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams 2011 Limited Release Scotch Whisky

The story behind the creation of Cask of Dreams is beyond anything else I’ve ever heard of in the five years I’ve been writing this blog.

If you don’t know the tale, draw near, and listen to the story of how you make a truly unique whisky.

Cask of Dreams starts with off-the-rick Glenfiddich, with Malt Master Brian Kinsman picking 14- to 16-year-old casks of the lightest style of whisky he could find.

Meanwhile, Glenfiddich ambassadors took 11 new, unused oak casks and took them to the streets of 11 U.S. cities. No, literally. They rolled them around, had locals sign them, then had a party to celebrate all things ‘Fiddich.

The 11 casks were then sent back to the Highlands of Scotland, and the whisky from those aforementioned casks was put into these new oak casks for finishing. New oak will age a spirit mighty fast, so it was watched carefully, bottling after three months in those “Casks of Dreams” at 97.6 proof. The whisky from those 11 casks was mingled in the final vatting: There’s only one 2011 Cask of Dreams, not 11 of them.

3,500 bottles were made, all to be sold in the U.S.

This is a unique and intriguing whisky. I can’t think of any other release that used new oak at any point in the creation. Notably, there is no ex-sherry wood in this blend, increasingly common for single malt whisky.

It’s really a lovely, and dangerously drinkable malt. Despite a respectable age and despite the new oak influence, it is remarkably light in body, lush with character. Vanilla pops out first on the nose, and that carries over to the body. Here you’ll also find big apple fruit — almost applesauce, with cinnamon notes, especially once you add water — plus lots of exotic cedar box and incense lacing. The finish turns to figs, golden raisins, and some cooked stone fruit flavors. But none of this is overcooked the way some old whiskys can be. There’s no real raw wood influence here, just that smooth vanilla that I chalk mainly up to the years it spends in ex-Bourbon barrels.

Cask of Dreams will be back in 2012, this time with an art-focused bent on the barrels and a more international vibe perhaps. Meanwhile, this bottling is already hard to find. Snap it up if you can.

A- / $100 / caskofdreams.com

glenfiddich cask of dreams 2011 Review: Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams 2011 Limited Release Scotch Whisky

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3 Responses to Review: Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams 2011 Limited Release Scotch Whisky

  1. I love the idea and the theory behind this, but I have a major concern – In cognac more than whisky, the ambassadors, distillers and warehouse managers sing the praises of the casks breathing with the atmosphere, the outside of the cask affecting the flavour as much as the inside. The same is (as far as i can tell) true for whisky casks too – so if these casks have been rolled around city streets, written on with (presumably) ink, sat on, jumped over and all manner of abuse, how much of those less delectable flavours could possibly get through? Clearly you like it, and I’m sure it’s good, i’d just worry about those tainting influences…

  2. Ben – That comment normally applies to gaseous elements getting through the cask, hence the sea air influence in many whiskeys aged for a decade or more 100 yards from the ocean. But I don’t believe that Sharpie ink can get through a barrel wall and into the liquid inside, particularly given that the whiskey is inside for just a couple of months, any more than, say, dust from the warehouse can get into the whiskey.

  3. Thanks for the feedback – makes a little more sense to me, something still just doesn’t quite sit right with me about it though – i’ll need to get a bottle next time i’m in the states to confirm… (as a slight p.s. – The Balvenie New Wood did use completely new white oak, toasted and charred, but never having held any other liquid…)

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