When Struan Grant Ralph, Global Brand Ambassador for Glenfiddich, visited Israel last month, I had a rare glimpse into the Glenfiddich 21 Reserve Rum Cask making process. This expression is made from whisky that is matured in ex-bourbon casks for 21 years and then is finished in Rum casks for additional four months before being bottled to create the final result.
Struan brought with him a 21 year old whisky distilled back in 1996 and then matured in ex-bourbon cask (#201). This is one of the casks that is destined to get finished in Rum casks for the Reserva Rum Cask whisky.
Nose: Sweet honey, oak spices, damp wood, nutty, butterscotch, pears, butter and after a few minutes in the glass some fruit perfume.
Palate: Gentle spiciness, white pepper, sweet honey, oak, butterscotch, nutty, very rich and ends with oak spices and cooked pears.
Finish: Medium length, very soft, honey, oak spices, white pepper and nuts.
This is, just like the 19 year old single cask for Project XX tasted in the same sitting, is is the sort of whisky I wish Glenfiddich would release on a regular basis. So this lovely 21 year old whisky is emptied from casks and then finished in Caribbean Rum casks for another few months.
So far so good, but the final result is bottled at 40% and is chill filtered. I think this bodes ill.
Nose: Gentler than the single cask with honey, oak wood, also some damp oak wood, slight rum impact with coconut, green banana and sweet caramel.
Palate: Weak and somewhat watery, honey, wood spices, nuts, caramel and you just don’t get much (or any) rum impact here.
Finish: Short length, caramel, damp סwood, nuts and honey.
Thoughts: The flavors are mainly still there but it feels so tired and lifeless. Comparing to the cask sample, the final result is a far lesser whisky after it was beat to death by going 40% and chill filtering. My recommendation: If you want to stick with Glenfiddich, a get fill-you-own bottle at the distillery (which I intend to do next time I’m in the area) or grab the Project XX instead (while it’s not stellar it’s a far better choice). If you want a good and matured Glenfiddich, look elsewhere.