Written by Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan
23 February 2023
The sun splices the day like a scythe as the Sydney skies darken. I’m cut loose from my middle-class existence and into a Cinderella-like utopia.
Stepping out of my pumpkin onto the landing of the Crown Towers Sydney, I stare up at the glistening building that looks like it has portalled straight out of the exotic sands of Dubai and onto the harbour foreshore.
88 floors later, I’m greeted with a cocktail created by Priscilla Leong, the Australian Bartender of the Year. The long-stemmed saucer is filled with Glenfiddich 21 and garnished with gold dust, geranium mist and a pop of orange blossom honey flavour from the Hamlet cocktail hemisphere.
It’s the perfect accompaniment with which to ascend the gold-edged staircase to the second floor of a 100 hundred-million-dollar penthouse to live out my fantasies as a one-percenter – for the evening anyway.
Glenfiddich has invited me here to experience their Time Re:imagined Collection. This remarkable collection of aged and exclusive single-malt whiskies represents the ultimate expression of time and is the pinnacle of Glenfiddich’s signature distillery style. Each is shaped by the steady passing of time and is presented in a unique casing of bespoke artwork.
The Time Re:imagined Collection consists of three extraordinary single malt whiskies that each capture a moment in time. These whiskies have matured over decades developing a richness and depth of flavour that is rarely encountered.
Ross Blainey the Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador takes us on a whirlwind tour of these three single malts beginning with a 30-year-old Scotch priced at $1,690 per bottle.
The Glenfiddich 30 Year Old depicts the moment when Brian Kinsman, Glenfiddich’s Malt Master, suspends the whisky’s maturation to bottle it, capturing the whisky at the precise moment in time, a perfect expression, preserved for all eternity.
The outer packaging design evokes this moment through moving ribbons, each one frozen in time to form elegant cut-out windows, revealing the regal decanter inside. With the moment of maturation captured in all its splendour, the dynamic lines and complex structure create an illusion that the bottle is suspended effortlessly, in mid-air, suspended in time.
The 40 Year Old is next to be showcased, priced at $6,490. He’s a dark mahogany with a nose that is deeply layered expression of dried fruits, dark chocolate, roasted coffee and ripe black cherries. It’s completed with subtle waves of gentle wood smoke, polished leather and cloves.
The taste is luxuriously full and silky smooth with memories of past releases in every nuanced note. Evolving from deep dried fruit notes to rich fruitcake, dates, raisins and stewed apples, before giving way to dry oaky notes, with subtle hints of bitter chocolate and peat.
I am awaiting the Prince Charming of whisky, the 50-year Scotch. He arrives as an antique gold liquid with a rich orange peel and clementine meets Madeira cake and muscovado sugar nose. Caressing my lips gently, he leaves a lingering sweetness which softens into deep silky smooth oak tannin and sun-dried vanilla.
This 50-year-old prince is created from whiskies from three different American Oak refill casks. They were all matured in the same warehouse before being married together and finished in an American oak refill cask for two years. There are only 220 decanters of this precious liquid in this release, making it an extremely rare and sought-after collectors’ item.
Many factors affect whisky maturing in the cask, including climatic conditions: Air pressure, temperature and humidity. The nature of maturation changes with these conditions.
Hot summers speed up the maturation process and cold winters slow it down – dramatically affecting the outcome of the liquid. These climatic conditions are unique to that time and day, they can never be replicated.
The development of the oak character, in combination with these climatic conditions, gives the whisky its unique taste. The outer casing is an artistic representation of the climatic data that created this extraordinary whisky.
The caress from the 50-year-old prince of whiskies is why I have come tonight. Yet while I have delighted in the taste, I’m distracted by the later cocktails that emerge from Wen Wang of Maybe Sammy and Matt Dale who has been awarded the world’s most sustainable bar.
These two cocktails are the Heritage Spritz which uses apple pulp smoked with salvaged 125-year-old railway sleepers using a unique smoking technique. Building into a bright spritz, it’s tall, refreshing and highlights the orchard fruit character of the Glenfiddich 12.
Then there’s the Walther Haze. It’s a stirred-down Glenfiddich old-fashioned-style cocktail using a unique homemade Oolong berry tea vermouth. Combining the flavours of the tea and vermouth over time with heat, this is built into this cocktail with Glenfiddich 15, Campari, Grand Marnier and Chocolate bitters.
I’m distracted for a while but the call of the 50 Year Old is strong. Unfortunately, the 50-year-old prince is nowhere to be seen, no doubt consumed by so many fans. I gather up my glass slippers and flee before I turn back into a middle-class writer.
At the door, our host farewells us. I comment about the Prince’s expensive caress. “He was a special one,” says the host. “He wasn’t $64,800 per bottle. No, he was a special one: $120,000.”
My jaw drops to the floor as the elevator arrives. I drop down 88 floors and back to my station. The pumpkin awaits.
The next morning I sit at my middle-class desk in my middle-class home and dream of a knock on the door by a fairy godmother bringing me the Prince of Whiskies and inviting me to be a keeper of the Quaich. (Another exclusive one-percenter club. There are only about 2,000 keepers of the Quaich and only invitees can join this whisky society.)
Perhaps, when my whisky novel is published, my contribution to whisky could be noticed and my wish might just come true. In the meantime, Slàinte Mhath!