Glenfiddich expands Grand Series with Awamori-finished single malt

By Kristiane Sherry |

Glenfiddich Grand Yozakura is the first single malt to use ex-Awamori casks

William Grant & Sons-owned Speyside distillery Glenfiddich has released world-first single malt Grand Yozakura, a 29 year old expression finished in rare ex-Awamori casks.

Part of its Grand Series collection of innovative cask finishes, Glenfiddich Grand Yozakura makes use of casks that previously held Awamori, Japan’s oldest distilled spirit.

Typically soft and fruity, Awamori is made on the Okinawa islands using long grain indica rice and is usually stored in clay pots. A very small portion is matured in oak casks. Traditional Awamori production techniques have remained largely unchanged for over 500 years.

Given tasting notes for Glenfiddich Grand Yozakura include a zesty nose with ripe fruits, caramelised almonds and cinnamon on the nose; and a palate with creamy vanilla toffee, sherbet, green apple and earthy tones. The finish offers long-lasting oak notes.

Glenfiddich Grand Yozakura is described as a “fusion” between Scotland and Japan that celebrates the Hanami cherry blossom festival.

The sakura at the heart of the festival is best experienced after dark in what is considered a fleeting moment that encourages renewal and optimism. Transient in the same way, Glenfiddich says, once the rare whisky has gone it will never be replaced.

The Grand Yozakura packaging brings Scottish and Japanese cultures together with an illustration from award-winning Japanese culture and landscape artist June.

Each bottle features a bespoke topper, and a traditional poem is printed on the outer case.

‘Unlike… anything I have tasted before’

“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,” said Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman.

Brian Kinsman says the Grand Yozakura expression lifts ‘flavour to a new level’.

“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 compliments 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, commented: “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.” 

Gwilym Cooke, Head of Brand Marketing for GTR at William Grant, added: “We are pleased to once again be partnering with key retailers to showcase this latest addition to our pioneering Grand Series collection within travel retail – a vital channel for the luxury spirits business.

“In line with our commitment to innovate this new whisky offers a unique taste experience and compelling story that will be hugely appealing to both new and established whisky drinkers.”

Claudia Falcone describes the release as the most groundbreaking so far in Glenfiddich’s Grand Series.

Glenfiddich Grand Yozakura will be released into global travel retail at selected airport locations in Europe and Asia from late March, supported by a series of high-profile experiential activations. In the UK it is priced at £1,500.

Other expressions in Glenfiddich’s Grand Series include Grand Cru, aged for 23 years in American and European oak casks before a French Cuvée oak finish; Gran Reserva, aged for 21 years in European and American Oak before a Caribbean rum cask finish; Grande Couronne, a 26 year old Scotch matured in American and European oak casks and finished for up to two years French Cognac casks; and Gran Cortes, aged for 22 years in Sherry a Palo Cortado Sherry finish. 

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