Glenfiddich 21 yo Cuban rum cask finish

Well… officially it’s Caribbean rum cask finish but our modest blog doesn’t have to be 100% politically correct, right? Even the distiller isn’t consistent there. The official international Glenfiddich website sticks to the “Caribbean” but their UK online shop uses word “Cuban” a few times and even tells us where the barrels come from exactly:

Rum distillers from Sancti Spiritus, near the Sierra del Escambray in the heart of Cuba, worked with us to develop this unique Cuban rum finish.

Neither Chris nor myself have any plans to pursue careers in the US politics in the predictable future so we can use and abuse this lovely word. Cuba, Cuba, Cuba.

Back to the point! Glenfiddich 21 is transferred to Cuban rum casks for the final 4 months of the maturation period, after which time, again according to the distiller, the spirit reveals a new and vibrant overtone. It is bottled at ABV 40%. During the tasting we conducted in Teuchters Landing recently I had a chance to get to know this whisky, get friendly and even… well, about that later.

So what do we think?

Lucas:

On the nose it’s surprisingly fresh, expected something rather heavy (preconception – colour of the label?). And it’s sweet, oh yeah. Lollypops, Smarties, fruity chewing gum and Lindor pralines filling. On top of that traces of liquorice and mint. Dry oakiness and pears from younger bottlings are nowhere to be found.

First thing I thought when it touched my lips was “smooth”. The word severely overused in describing spirits but in this case hard to substitute. It’s just smooth; on the entry, in the middle, at the end and on the finish. I get dark cherries, apples and varnished wood there. It tingles at one point. Finishes medium long, gently and quietly.

Water brings out fudge, carrot cake and peat on the nose but kills the whisky overall, it just drowns. I never quite believed that water would do any good to such mature malt.

Generally it’s good, but I probably would have liked it better if not for Chris praising it all the way down to Teuchters. I expected magnificence and in this respect the Glenfiddich let me down. I definitely would take a bottle home (never happened) but wouldn’t pay £65 for it, not in a million years. Over to you, Chris.

Chris:

Well, firstly as I am considering going to the US at some point, I will be calling this the Caribbean rum finish (I dont fancy being detained at customs).

I really enjoyed this whisky, although I think it paled in comparison to some of the other stuff we have been trying recently (Macallan 18, wow!, I cant wait to write about it). I think the rum cask finish adds interesting flavours and is better than other rum finishes I have tried. I admit the first time I tried this whisky I had a couple of other wee drams so this tasted like nectar from the gods. When more sober, I’d say it’s a good all rounder, but not my absolute favourite.

Where can you get it:
www.scotchwhiskyshop.co.uk – £64.94
www.royalmilewhiskies.com – £66.95 (US shipment available)
shop.glenfiddich.com – £69.99 (with personalised label)

Comments

  1. Great reading, guys. Thanks! Better than other Rum finshes that you’ve tried? Only a handful out there. Which others do you mean?

  2. I’ve tried BenRiach Dark Rum and a few different bottlings of Edradour Port. None of them particularly appealing:( Balvenie 17 raises the bar though! A tasting still to come.
    Lucas

  3. Hey Guys,

    The Glenfiddich 21 was originally released as “Cuban Rum Matured” – which caused problems with the US embargo on Cuban products, and it was subsequently banned. So the oh-so-clever marketing folks at Glenfiddich relabeled as “Carribean Rum Matured” still using the same barrel source as before, but now being less specific US Customs could not prove any Cuban relation, and the 21 year was allowed to be sold in the US.

    Which explains the official Glenfiddich inconsistensies. Still though…

  4. Hi there,
    Not sure that this is true) but thanks

    Thanks
    Elcoj

  5. Stuart’s comment is pretty much right.

    In terms of naming, the Glenfiddich 21 yo was originally “21yo Havana Reserve”, then “21yo Gran Reserva” and currently simply “21″.

    As for the rum, it started out as Cuban and is now a Caribbean rum blended to the specification of our Malt Master, Brian Kinsman.

    Not sure which version you guys tried, but the nose of the Caribbean rum finish version (the current one) initially reminds me of walking into a traditional dunnage warehouse – wood from the roof beams, deep aromas from well-matured whisky vapours and a dry earthiness from the earth floor (which could be mistaken for light peatiness). Followed by vanilla, toffee, spice and ripe banana notes, which are also there on the palate.

    Slainte!
    Jamie
    Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador, UK.

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