glenfiddich WINTER STORM


For his latest experiment, Malt Master Brian Kinsman found his inspiration in the freezing vineyards of the renowned Peller Estates winery near Niagara, Canada. When he returned to the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, his memories of the extreme conditions and the unique production process of the intensely sweet Icewine led him to experiment with several French oak Icewine casks. What he found fascinated him.

Ingenious Idea

“Only the rarer whiskies, those aged for 21 years, could cope with the extra Icewine intensity. Having more tannins, extracted from years in oak, these malts brought out a uniquely fresh lychee note instead of being swamped by sweetness.” ‒ Malt Master Brian Kinsman



Brian experimented with several French oak Icewine casks from the Canadian winery, filling them with different Glenfiddich aged malts for up to six months. Only the rarer whiskies, those aged for 21 years, could cope with the extra Icewine intensity.

Glenfiddich Malt Master, Brian Kinsman, is constantly on the lookout for ingenious innovations in Scotch whisky. This latest expression was the result of a trip to Canada in January 2016, when he visited Peller Estate, a renowned winery in the Niagara Peninsula. We talked to Brian to find out how the experiment unfolded:

glenfiddich malt master brian kinsman examining ice wine grapes

What inspired you about Icewine?

“Beth Havers, our Glenfiddich Ambassador in Canada, first drew my attention to Icewine many years ago – and we’d discussed how it could be an interesting experiment a few times since. But it was the first time I’d been to an Icewine vineyard, and it really got me excited about the possibilities it offered for Glenfiddich. I didn’t know too much about Icewine or its production before, but I was particularly fascinated with how temperature played such an important role in the final flavour of the Icewine – the intense cold causing such an intense sweetness.”

How did the experiment come about?

“As the Head Winemaker, Craig MacDonald, said to me when I was in Canada, a great Icewine is the perfect tension between sweetness and acidity. That got me thinking about trying to create the perfect tension between a Speyside malt – with its classic crisp fruit flavours – and the intense hit of tropical fruit that Icewine can bring. I asked him whether I could take some of his French oak Icewine casks back with me to Scotland to experiment with. Luckily he said yes!”

What whiskies did you experiment with?

“I filled the different Canadian Icewine casks with different aged Glenfiddich malts for up to six months – the same time the Icewine takes to mature in wood. What became clear quite quickly was the intense sweetness from the casks overwhelmed whiskies that had more delicate floral flavours. Only the rarer liquids, which were more robust, complex and had more tannins from being in oak for so long, could cope with the extra layers of fruit sweetness. The most successful was a 21 year old Glenfiddich.”


Can you describe the taste of the final liquid?

“The taste is a perfect combination of both pioneering liquids – a rich malt with more rounded orchard fruit imbued with a unique layer of tropical sweetness. The heightened candied sweets and oakiness of Glenfiddich are complemented by mouth-watering tropical fruit notes and a luscious sweetness from the unique Icewine cask finish.”


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