Glen Keith 21, 1996 (Single Malts of Scotland)

Yesterday’s review of a Glen Keith 22, 1995 doubled my erstwhile total, taking it to an awe-inspiring two reviews. Today I multiply that by a further time and a half with my third ever Glen Keith review. Feel the mastery! This is a year younger than yesterday’s bottle and distilled a year later. It was released by the Whisky Exchange’s sister company, Elixir Distillers (the artists formerly known as Speciality Drinks) under their Single Malts of Scotland Label. It is stated as being from a sherry butt but the label also says that only 294 bottles were released. That’s a bit low for a sherry butt at 56.2%. You might wonder if it was in fact a sherry hogshead but in that case 294 bottles would be a bit high. The only explanation I can think of is that the cask was split with someone else and that Elixir Distillers has only listed the number of bottles their share yielded. (Or maybe they put the rest to some other use: conditioner for Billy Abbot’s beard?) Anyway, let’s get to the whisky! 

Glen Keith 21, 1996 (56.2%; Single Malts of Scotland; sherry butt #135908; from my own bottle)

Nose: Malty and citrusy, but unlike yesterday’s ex-bourbon 22 yo, it’s orange rather than lemon here. A chalky quality under that and also some mulched leaves. With time there’s a hint of toffee as well. With more time still the malt expands. With water the difference between this and the ex-bourbon cask blurs a little as it gets brighter and more lemony. A big cereal note too now and some vanilla.

Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose with the orange to the fore (sweeter here) and the leaves and malt behind. There’s also a touch of a phenolic note—not smoke, more like rubber gaskets on old medicine bottles. Very nice texture. On the second sip there’s more oaky bite; it works well with the other notes. Gets oakier—and more tannic—as it sits and that phenolic note subsides. Water makes it quite a bit less tannic and brightens the citrus here too; still quite spicy.

Finish: Medium. Gets woodier and spicier as it goes. As on the palate with water; the leafy note expands at the end.

Comments: I liked this on the nose all the way through. I preferred the palate and finish with water as neat it just got too oaky for me (those who are less oak-sensitive may disagree). Either way, the opposite of a sherry bomb. On the whole, I like it as much as yesterday’s 22 yo. Both are very good but both lack complexity. Now if there were only some way to explain the outturn.

Rating: 86 points.

3 thoughts on “Glen Keith 21, 1996 (Single Malts of Scotland)

  1. They may have simply bottled half (as you mentioned) and left the other half to mature further, blended it into a 21yo Speyside malt, etc. Probably lots of plausible reasons. It’s also not the most popular of distillery labels (and certainly not rare) and maybe they were concerned 600 bottles may not move in a timely manner.


      • Odds are your initial assumption about splitting the cask with another bottler is spot on. Or perhaps this is the second-half of the cask and the first was bottled years ago…fun to speculate. Thanks for the review.

        Great blog! Cheers.


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