Glenfiddich is using the latest release in its Grand Series to pay homage to Japanese culture in the year that the country's whisky industry marks its 100th anniversary.
The Glenfiddich Grand Yozakura is the first single malt Scotch whisky to be finished in casks that formerly contained Awamori, a traditional Japanese distilled spirit. Awamori is made using long-grain indica rice and traditionally stored in clay pots; only a small proportion is matured in oak casks, making these casks exceptionally rare on the secondary market.
It is the latest release in the Grand Series, which also includes the Grand Cru
, finished in French cuvée casks, Gran Reserva, finished in Caribbean rum casks, Grand Couronne
, finished in Cognac casks, and Gran Cortes, finished in Palo Cortado sherry casks.
The 29-year-old Grand Yozakura is being launched to coincide with the Japanese cherry blossom (or 'sakura') festival. Considered a time for renewal and optimism, some believe the festival is best viewed at night, where it is known as the Yozakura or 'night sakura'. The packaging for the expression was designed by Japanese artist June, whose work is known for incorporating Japanese cultural cues and landscapes, with a bespoke topper and a traditional poem printed onto the outer case.
A bespoke design inside the Glenfiddich Grand Yozakura carton
Brian Kinsman, Glenfiddich
malt master, said: "We are always looking to experiment with new finishes so when the chance arose to acquire rare ex-Awamori casks we saw an opportunity to push the boundaries and experiment with this highly unusual spirit. This is the first time that single malt Scotch whisky has been finished in these rare casks. We always learn something new when we lead with innovation so taking a risk is worth it, and in the case of Awamori we trialled a very small number of casks at a younger age first.
"Awamori is much like whisky, with a diverse range of flavours. Since embarking on this fusion, it’s been fascinating to focus on the oak and how it has been changed and adapted by contact with another spirit. The six-month finish in ex-Awamori casks complements the smooth Glenfiddich taste profile, elevating the finish and lifting the flavour to a new level, accentuating the mouthfeel characters and zingy herbal notes unlike any in the series, or anything I have tasted before."
Claudia Falcone, Glenfiddich global brand director, added: "The Grand Series underpins Glenfiddich’s spirit of innovation and Grand Yozakura is no exception. It is perhaps the most ground-breaking expression to sit alongside the series so far, whilst also being the first limited-edition release. Bringing together two scarce components accentuates the anticipation and sense of occasion, paying homage to the brand’s innovative nature when it comes to creating dynamic whiskies of the highest quality."
Glenfiddich Grand Yozakura is available from 28 March in luxury whisky retail outlets and premium establishments including Harrods, with a recommended price of £1,500.