The mail today contained an awkward white envelope that had been airmailed to me from London. I say awkward because it was unevenly weighted and whatever was inside moved around quite a bit. As I brought it inside I noticed a more than slight aroma of whisky.
I opened it up to find a letter from the folks at Glenfiddich and a thick piece of oak with the width and height dimensions of a postcard that was once part a barrel of Scotch that had been filled on March 7, 1977. Glenfiddich has released 482 bottles of Glenfiddich Vintage Reserve 1977, priced at $750 each -- if you can find one. As the letter states, "From the cask piece, you can experience the qualities that are inherent in the whisky from years of interaction within the cask."
Now it is not every day that I get a piece of oak via airmail from the other side of the Atlantic. I agree that the aroma from the piece of wood gives me a good idea of what the scent of the actually Scotch must be like. The package certainly caught my eye more than a simple press release. And I understand that if Glenfiddich sent an actual tasting sample of the 31-year-old whisky to every drinks journalist they would not have any of the precious liquid left to sell.
All of that said, I hope other distillers don't get the idea of substituting pieces of barrels for tasting samples. That would make writing about spirits, wine and beer far less interesting.