In true maverick spirit, Glenfiddich, the World’s Most Awarded Single Malt Scotch Whisky pushes the status quo, elevating ordinary celebration moments to extraordinary ones with the launch of its newest range, the Glenfiddich Grand Series. Each imbued with intriguing and indulgent finishes, the Gran Reserva, Grand Cru and Grande Couronne are a beautifully disruptive series of single malts that oozes opulence and is designed to elevate occasions and celebratory moments in a whole new way.
We talked to Brett Bayly, Regional Brand Ambassador for Glenfiddich in Southeast Asia, to find out deeper about the brand and the new series. He took the time to answer some questions about all things whisky, but more specifically Glenfiddich whisky.
1. Behind every brand there’s a story, could you tell us how you resonate with the story of Glenfiddich? What is it about Glenfiddich that you love?
Glenfiddich have marked themselves through the decades, as Mavericks in their field. They have pushed themselves, pushed those around them, and really aimed to continue the development of the world we play in. I’ve always been someone with a certain drive, that never can sit still.
I need to develop, I need to evolve and break down my own personal rules, so I’m unconstrained in thinking, to help with my creativity, and abilities. I think this mentality from the distillery is what I first fell in love with, even before I began working with the brand. Their undying conviction towards this has really led the Single Malt Scotch category for so long, and I really aspire to live that in my own life also.
2. Could you tell us more about the Glenfiddich Grand Series, what makes it different from the other Glenfiddich series/collections?
The Grand Series are crafted to elevate traditional celebratory occasions in a new, relevant and compelling way. Whether it is a personal, social or formal celebration, the Grand Series are there to elevate the occasions.
- Gran Reserva: Raised in Scotland. Roused by the Caribbean – Adding an indulgent finishing touch to any moment, the Gran Reserva transforms the uncommon into the unequalled.
- Grand Cru: The finest flavours from Scotland and France fused through the art of experimentation – The Grand Cru is as far from ordinary as whiskies come. Daring and unexpected, this is an expression that redefines moments of celebration with true luxury and elegance.
- Grande Couronne: The crowning glory to your celebrations – The crowning glory to any occasion and the epitome of true opulence is the Grande Couronne. Its very name, meaning crown in French, seals the promise of the pleasure to come; the pinnacle of the night’s revelry.
(find the full details of each bottle here)
What makes the Grand Series different from other Glenfiddich collections? The Grand Series is truly designed with occasions in mind. We often select a whisky to share with friends, based on a few traditional factors. First, we decide based on our own favourite, trying to induct our friends, family and colleagues into the brand we personally align with. Second, we select based on trying to impress via age statement. And third, we select based on what someone has told us is good as a recommendation.
While all three are relevant to some degree, The Grand Series throws this playbook out the window, and really focuses on why, where, who, when, what, and how we want to consume. Occasions are the absolute reason we pull a bottle off the shelf, and it can sometimes be daunting based on trying to appease those we’re with. The Grand Series speaks to this concern, as it takes the required brain power out, with expressions like the Gran Reserva pulling you into the moment, really forcing you to embrace the occasion, and not worry about what came before, or comes after.
The Grand Cru is designed as the true way to Celebrate The Occasion, with lighter body, playful citrus, a buttery mouthfeel, and something that is appropriate for all palates, meaning it can be enjoyed by all. The Grande Couronne is undeniably rich, and exudes opulence in every drop, and is really designed to Crown The Occasion, of which we look at only the truly remarkable moments in life, we need something special to do so with. This thought process changes how we look at the whiskies, they aren’t an everyday drinking style, they’re really meant for those special moments in life.
3. What do you think about the bartending industry in Malaysia?
I love travelling to Malaysia! Even though Singapore is on the doorstep, there’s a different culture, different mentality, different lifestyle that comes from being in Malaysia, and it really impacts the style of bartenders and bars. I’ve observed over the last 2+ years that I wasn’t able to travel, the evolving scene in Malaysia, primarily KL, where there are fantastic rooftop bars, cigar lounges, cocktail dens, and everything in between!
The talent here is fantastic, and it’s been great to see some of the young guns have stepped out to open their own independent outlets, some of the seasoned pro’s have revisited their concepts and revitalised their offering, the scene is really refreshing to visit.
4. Why was Malaysia chosen as a country to launch the series in? What importance does it serve?
Malaysia wasn’t just chosen to launch in, it was the largest scale launch we have activated so far! The market here deserves this kind of investment, we want to show our commitment to bring fantastic liquids into Malaysia, and to support the growing consumer base for Single Malt Scotch.
I really think that the consideration of markets wasn’t so much about what we thought we wanted to achieve, but rather which markets were ready for this level of execution and concept. Malaysia is constantly maturing as a whisky demographic, the demand for unique and interesting releases is in abundance, and the willingness to learn, and develop thought process absolutely shows.
5. We’ve learnt that the Glenfiddich Grand Series is perfect for celebrating meta occasions. Why do you think that is?
As I mentioned, we have occasions in mind for this series. I think of brands as personalities, and in each brand, an SKU can have its own personality as well. This series is such an exciting extension of the Glenfiddich universe, as it brings these archetypes to life in such a fantastic showcase of what each bottle represents.
The little details on each bottle alone are the starting reference, with Gran Reserva having knods to the Caribbean cigar scene, using a cigar band designed for the age statement. The Grand Cru has the indentations from the cage of a sparkling wine cork, really showing that traditional celebratory marker that we don’t even consciously recognise, but subconsciously know exactly what it is. Finally the Grande Couronne has all the hallmarks of opulence, and luxury, defining it as the top end of our series, reserved for those occasions that deserve nothing less.
Each of the expressions in The Grand Series has been crafted to elevate a traditional celebratory occasion in a new, relevant, and compelling way, bringing forth a crescendo to every occasion.
6. What are your top 3 favourite Glenfiddich from the Grand Series and why?
I have reasons for each one, but I wouldn’t classify any as my favourite, simply because it has to be determined by the occasion! If I’m catching up with friends over a cigar in a nice air conditioned lounge, I’m reaching for the 21 Gran Reserva. If I’m celebrating 2.5 years away from family, and I finally get to see them, I reach for the Grand Cru! Finally, if We’ve successfully launched the Grand Series, and the response was more than we hoped for, then I’ll be reaching for the Grande Couronne with my team.
7. As the Regional Brand Ambassador for Glenfiddich, what’s the most exciting part about your role?
I dare say the opportunity to travel to engage with other enthusiasts. I love to learn from people I engage with, be it sampling a new fruit that is in a cocktail, talking whisky with someone who is also in the industry or a genuine collector, or just getting to dine at some of the amazing places around the region.
I’m undeniably spoilt in my role, and everywhere I go, people go above and beyond to help me enjoy some fantastic experiences! Getting to share a dram or two of whisky is a plus too, don’t get me wrong – haha.
8. You’re no stranger to experimenting when it comes to bartending so we’re sure you’ve gotten a lot of remarks saying what you’re making is uncommon, but to others they might call your creations unequalled. So in your eyes, when does uncommon become unequalled?
I think uncommon means that there are comparable products in the market. If we were simply launching a set of cask finished whiskies, well there’s a very competitive market for that. The thing for me that makes the Grand Series unequalled, is the consideration of personality & occasion that has gone into these.
There’s more in these bottles than just a thought of marrying different luxury liquid styles. There’s fashion applications, there’s food applications, there’s this whole galaxy of event & lifestyle lead potential, that really put the Grand Series in a league of its own.
9. How would you define maturity in whisky? When does a patiently maturing ancient single malt become an extravagance?
When maturing whisky, we are simply talking about the impact of time versus drawing flavour out of a cask. Some whiskies can mature rapidly, depending on climatic conditions, but it really comes down to the selection process by our malt master. When Brian is selecting a whisky that he wants to bring up to a hyper aged level, there is a lot of care and consideration that must go into the process.
The notion that age is better when older simply does not exist, it’s about the purpose of that maturation, so extravagance isn’t how I’d describe longer maturation, its embellishment. We cannot richer flavours as they simply take a longer period to extract from the cask, so notes of chocolate, coffee creme, and brown sugar, will tend to take longer to bring to the palate. Mouth feel that is oily, also tends to be a lengthy process to extract as it includes the impact of the evaporative process that occurs, known as ‘the angels share’ to condense profile into a more viscous texture.
10. What do you think the future of Southeast Asia holds for Glenfiddich?
The future is bright to say the least. There are always new announcements in the company around limited release whiskies, new permanent addition SKU’s, and new lifestyle elements coming in. I think South East Asia is finally getting the recognition it deserves for the demand on liquid moving the market well beyond your entry level 12, 15, & 18 core range.
Profiles have evolved, and we want to ensure we support that from the start. Its’ markets like South East Asia, that will determine elements of our product line up. We’re investing heavily in the region to show our commitment to this, and the aim is to build our reach and share of the market, so we can continue to develop from our local presence here.
11. So what are the plans for Glenfiddich in the coming months?
There is a lot on the horizon, especially now we can travel and actually engage in person! With events, dinners, experiences, and new products, but if I told you now, it would ruin the surprise! If people are keen to keep up with what’s coming, they can follow @glenfiddichsea or @bayly_of_the_ deer on instagram, where we’ll be sure to let you know what’s happening!