«Inspired by the explorers of old, whose discoveries revolutionised our understanding of the world, Glenfiddich Age of Discovery is a rich and delicious 19 year old single malt matured in oak casks previously used to age fine Madeira wine. These Madeira casks add deep earthy aromas of sweet figs and rich grapes to our whisky, and unique spicy notes of cinnamon and black peppercorns.»
It celebrates the remarkable achievements of European navigators of the 15th and 16th centuries, particularly the Portuguese, who explored ‘beyond the known world’ and opened up trade routes with West Africa, the Far East and later the Americas. But it was the discovery of Madeira in 1419 that started it all. The story goes that, the year before, two Portuguese captains in the service of Prince Henry ‘The Navigator’ were shipwrecked on an island which they named ‘Porto Santo’ on account of their divine deliverance from the sea. The following year they returned to annex the island to the Portuguese Crown, and this time they saw what they described as a “heavy black cloud to the south-west”, which turned out to be a much larger island, which they named Madeira, the Portuguese for ‘wood’.
The first colonial settlers arrived in 1420, and within a very short time were making wine. Since the ‘wooded island’ had several excellent harbours, it became a familiar port of call for ships bound for the West Indies and the New World. To prevent the wine from spoiling on long sea voyages a little grape spirit was added to fortify it. Then it was discovered that on such voyages, when the wines were exposed to excessive heat and movement, they improved greatly – as the producers on Madeira found out when an unsold shipment of wine returned to the islands after a round trip!