Whiskies I’ll Never Own #2: Glenfiddich 21 Gran Reserva Rum Cask

At the same time that I sampled the Johnny Walker Blue Ghost & Rare, I had the opportunity to give Glenfiddich’s 21 Year Old Gran Reserva Rum Cask release.

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Glenfiddich’s 21 Year Old Rum Cask finish

Let me start off by saying that I quite enjoy some releases from Glenfiddich and William Grant & Sons, particularly their slightly older or bolder releases.  For pure value, the Glenfiddich 15 Distiller’s Edition remains one of my absolute favorites.  The Glenfiddich IPA experiment was a worthy effort, even if they didn’t take it as far as I would hav eliked.  The “Storas” 21-year old blend released by William Grant & Sons was slightly overpriced (in Ontario?  Colour me shocked.), but was a lovely rich, leathery, cool weather sipper.  So, all that being said, I was quite excited to try a 21 year old Glenfiddich with an interesting finish.

What was I less excited about?  The price tag!  This Glenfiddich bottling sells for a groan-inducing $478.10 here in Ontario.  Ouch.

Ok, ok… It’s pricey, but who knows?  Maybe it’s worth it.  Let’s see.

Nose: Very gentle and notably sweet, rich and sugary.  Notes of banana, coconut and vanilla.  Not a ton that rises about the sweetness on the nose.

Palate: Oh ya, that is sweet!  The rum cask influence is hugely evident.  A little let down by the thin, light mouthfeel, especially after having just tried the notably heftier Johnny Walker Blue.  Cane sugary sweetness, caramel and tropical fruit.  That coconut remains prominent, as does the banana.   Behind the bold rum influence lurks what you would expect from many Glenfiddich’s: Green apple, something akin to light fig, a light cereal note and an oaky, spicy bite.  Nothing too heavy on the spice, just a light, peppery bite that develops through to the finish.

Finish: The finish isn’t anything particularly spectacular.  Shorter than one would like, the tropical fruits fade away, leaving sweet can sugar, caramel, and a light pepper/ginger spiciness.

Ok… I see what they’re doing here.  It’s nice, no doubt, but man would you hate it if you don’t like sweet whiskies.  Sadly I feel like the underlying spirit is a bit neutered by the 40% ABV, and is absolutely dominated by the rum finish.  At 46% (or dare I dream) higher, this could really sing.  As it stands, I wouldn’t mind owning a bottle, but it would have to be less than half the current selling price.  There’s just far too many older, bolder, more interesting releases in the $400-500 price point to ever make this worth that.

Still, enjoyed the sample dram!  Cheers!

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