Glenfiddich Gran Reserva 21 Years Old SIngle Malt Scotch Review


My introduction to whisky began with Scotch. Not really understanding what was good and bad, I went for what was affordable, and that wound up being Dewars White Label. From there, I started drinking Chivas Regal. Once my palate developed, I wanted to explore what made single-malt whiskies enjoyable. That rabbit hole began with Glenfiddich 12 Years Old.


Mrs. Whiskeyfellow worked at a liquor store when we lived in South Florida. For my birthday (or Christmas, it has been so many years I don’t quite recall), she gave me a bottle of Glenfiddich 21 Years Old.


If you know anything about Scotch whisky, it stands to reason you’ve heard of William Grant, who founded his distillery in 1866. He and his kids built it by hand using stones in the Valley of the Deer area. Inspired by the locale, he named it Glenfiddich, the Gaelic translation of the valley. The distillery opened on Christmas Day the following year.


As many folks know, Prohibition did more than kill the whiskey business in the United States. It sent shockwaves across the pond to Europe as well. Most Irish distilleries were shuttered. You may not know that all but six in Scotland were, too. Considering the sheer number of distilleries just in the Speyside region (of which Glenfiddich is a part), that's mindblowing!


Glenfiddich not only kept distilling, but in 1923, it also stuck out its middle finger while ramping up production. In 1959, Gordon Grant set up its own cooperage, which is still in use today and is unusual in modern-day Scotland. Then, in 1963, Sandy Grant Gordon, William's great-grandson, set the world ablaze by being the first to advertise a single malt Scotch outside of Scotland.


Like every single malt Scotch, life begins with 100% malted barley. Glenfiddich sources its water from the Robbie Dhu spring. It then heads to the distillery’s Douglas fir tanks, which allow for a longer fermentation duration. Distillation occurs in copper pot stills, and maturation occurs in former Bourbon barrels for at least 21 years.


But wait. There’s more. The mature whisky is then finished in Caribbean Rum casks for four months. Glenfiddich 21 Years Old is relatively easy to find. It doesn’t come cheap; you can expect to spend about $200.00 for a 750ml, 40% ABV (80°) package.


Since I acquired my current bottle, Glenfiddich 21 Years Old’s bottle has undergone a design change. It is referred to as Glenfiddich Gran Reserva 21 Years Old. Beyond that, nothing has changed. Here’s a close-up of the current label:


Photo courtesy of Glenfiddich

How does this single malt whisky fare? The only way to know is to #DrinkCurious, so let’s get to that!


Appearance: I poured this Scotch into my Glencairn glass to sip neat. The liquid appeared as a brilliant bronze color. It created a thick rim and syrupy tears.


Nose: While waiting for the whisky to breathe, my whiskey library was filled with smells of honey, molasses, and malt. Closer inspection provided notes of orange peel, figs, and dates. Inhaling the air into my mouth, I encountered limes.


Palate: Glenfiddich 21 Years Old possessed a thin mouthfeel that introduced my palate to vanilla, honey, and oak tannins. I tasted tobacco, almond nougat, and bananas. The back offered molasses, lime zest, and chocolate.   


Finish: Medium to long in duration, the finish included flavors of lime zest, tobacco, brown sugar, almond nougat, and chocolate.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This expression from Glenfiddich is easily sipped thanks to its lower proof. Although I have always felt the molasses note could have been more dominant, there is a good bang for the buck. It does retain that classic Glenfiddich personality present in many of its expressions. In my opinion, it is worth the price and thus takes my Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you to do so responsibly.