Glenfarclas 21 y.o. Review

Glenfarclas 21 club 081

43% abv

Score:  84/100


I keep asking myself if I’m missing something with this whisky.  A trusted mate of mine swears by it…I love most of what comes out of Glenfarclas, arguably one of Speyside’s(*) finest distilleries…the age at which this is bottled is a sweet spot for many whiskies…the price is great.  But at the end of the day it hurts me to give this one nothing more then a passing grade.

Credit where credit is due, however, this is a much better ‘noser’ than ‘sipper’.  The nose has some of those shimmering ephemeral qualities I so adore in mature whisky, and some of the individual nuances are a ‘coat-of-many-colors’ brilliant tapestry, coming together to provide a striking whole.  Sadly, it sort of all unravels as it spreads across the tongue.  The arrival is ok, but it quickly fizzles and leaves me almost confused.  Another sip…nope…same thing.  I’m now down to the last dram of the bottle and my impression hasn’t changed in the slightest.  As you can see, I’m nothing if not persistent.  😉  All in the name of good research.

Oh well.  They can’t all be exceptional.  As I said, I love Glenfarclas.  Almost unconditionally.  I’ll simply go elsewhere in the range to get my fill.

Nose:  Milk and white chocolate mousse.  A nice dusting of cinnamon.  Scones, sugar cookies and mild ginger snaps.  A few floral (perfume-y?) notes and fruitcake, heavy in almond paste.  Just an echo of old dunnage warehouse.  Comes together nicely. 

Palate:  For the love of all that Glenfarclas does right, I can’t wrap my head around the 43% here.  Seems far too light a delivery for such an old-school heavy style malt.  Black currant and jam.  Salt toffee.  Kinda malty.  Immediately turns to barley and all the sweetness falls off.  There’s simply nothing left to sweeten up the dry grains.  Not a fan of the finish.  It’s odd (and maybe it’s just me), but much like the recent batches of the 15, it almost seems to hit a fishy note at the back end.  Like a cedar-grilled salmon or something.

(*) Yes, yes…’Highlands’ on the bottle, but  this is from the heart of Speyside.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

5 thoughts on “Glenfarclas 21 y.o. Review

    1. ATW Post author

      I’ve tried the 17 a few times, but only in festival settings. Not a fair environment. I honestly couldn’t fairly weigh in on that one.

    2. Collegiate

      I recently had a chance to try the 21 and the 17 side by side. I preferred the 17, as it just struck me as a more flavourful straight ahead Sherry. The 21 is a different one from the rest of the range I found. Not bad, just not to my preference.

  1. Wm Gemmell

    Great review, Curt. Love the photo as well. To be honest, and although I’m a big fan of Glenfarclas, I find that the palate tends to fall short of what the aromas present in a few of their malts. Mostly in regards to the “younger” ones, though. Went through a tasting of the 21yo and 25 yo a couple weeks ago. I found the 25 to be quite a consistent and pleasant malt.


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