The Glenlivet XXV vs. The Glenlivet 21

I’m a huge fan of Glenlivet, one of the reasons why I visited them only a week ago near Tomintoul, Scotland. The tour of their distillery was a lot of fun, more on that later, but my real treat of Glenlivet wasn’t until I visited the World Duty Free store in Heathrow Airport. I visited the store, which you can’t possibly miss, last year after a trip to England and picked up quite a few bottles of Scotch, many of which still sit on my shelves, and this time I wanted to get some more.

I started talking to one of the salespeople and we got to discussing The Glenlivet. I told him about how I had visited the distillery, something he wanted to do, and I told him I enjoyed the 18 when he asked if I was interested in trying out the XXV. I had been looking at their taster’s try earlier and didn’t really see anything I wanted to try (mostly younger maturities of brands I was already familiar with), so I was surprised when he opened up the cabinet and pulled out a bottle of the XXV.

Glenlivet XXV

Glenlivet XXV

The >Glenlivet XXV was silky smooth and spicy, reminiscent of their 18. You could tell it was finished in sherry casks because it had a definite sweetness. The tasting notes say it has raisins with a floral nose but I was lost in the nutty spiciness. Overall, it was a fantastic dram and what you would expect with a bottle priced at £175.00 retail. This would rank as the second most expensive dram I’ve ever sampled, second only to the Macallan Fine Oak 30 year, priced at £321 at the Macallan Distillery.

I enjoy scotch but the thought of spending £143, or about $236, on a single bottle was a bit much. I’m not against spending money for quality, but I don’t think I have the ability to truly appreciate and enjoy scotch of that caliber. With that being said, I think my money is better spent buying three or four bottles of more affordable scotch.

Glenlivet Archive 21 Year

Glenlivet Archive 21 Year

That’s when I took a look at The Glenlivet 21, which was a fraction of the price (£68.99 retail). The salesperson surprised me even more when he said that he has the 21 too, pulling it out from the secret compartment to let me try a bit. I enjoyed the 21 a lot, it lacked the spicy finish of the XXV and the nose had a lot more fruit and cinnamon. I’m glad I tried it because otherwise I would never have bought it! £68.99 (it was much less in duty-free) is a lot to spend on a brand you like when you don’t know what the scotch will be like, £68.99 is not a lot for a 21 year old scotch you know you’ll enjoy.

The real lesson here is that you should try before you buy and try it in duty free for free. 🙂

11 thoughts on “The Glenlivet XXV vs. The Glenlivet 21

  1. Good notes on these two and I find it interesting that you were able to sample at the store — I’ll have to keep that in mind if I go through Heathrow sometime. The Glenlivet was my first single-malt scotch and I’ve been happy with them ever since. That was a 12 and I’ve had the 18 since, both lovely things but very different in makeup.

    • I was very surprised too but it worked, I bought something I otherwise wouldn’t have! The Glenlivet 12 and their 18 are both excellent scotches, especially for their respective prices, but they do have different characters. While the age statement is important, I find that the only predictability in age statements is in the smoothness of the dram. Everything else cannot be predicted based on age alone and you may enjoy a 12 more than an 18 if the 18 is spicier and you don’t enjoy that profile.

  2. I was introduced to single malts at a Macallan tasting and subsequently came to drink Macallan Fine Oak 17 whenever available. Because of this adherence to the Macallan line, I bought a round of Macallan Fine Oak 21 at his engagement party. However, my sister gave me a bottle of Glenlivet 21 for my 30th birthday and I popped it open upon passing the NY Bar exam. To me, the GL21 surpasses the quality of the Macallan 21 easily. I am planning on buying a couple bottles next month moving from LA to China.

  3. I have been called on many occasions a cheap bastard. I am the kind of man who makes an elaborate meal instead of go out. I spend summers at three vinyards pulling grape stumps to get three cases expensive wine. And as you probably guess I drink on a regular basis chivas 12 year. It is tasty and adheres to my budget. People usually ask me why I am cheap and I resoond with the usual jokes but the real reason I am cheap is : good food, great beer, wine, cigars, and my true love the Glenlivet 21.

    • jarrod – I hear you brother. I’m cheap when it comes to things I don’t care about because I want to save up for the things I do. I think spending summers are vineyards is a fun way to get closer to something you love, the wine is a great benefit.

  4. I just graduated college, but as a gift to myself I bought myself a bottle of 12 year old Glenlivet, and I had never tried a single malt before. Mother of God it was delicious. Most people my age don’t appreciate a good scotch, but this drink only made me want more. I feel as if I will become a fanboy of The Glenlivet

  5. I’ve bought at tried the Glenlivet 12year, 15year French Oak, 18year.

    I have just bought a bottle of 21 year Archive……unfortunately, I’m buying it as a gift. I am thinking about keeping it for myself. Still debating it in my head haha….

    Will definitely have to try the Battlehill Glenlivet 22 year sometime….it’s only 80 bucks. Not sure why older is cheaper in this case. Maybe someone could enlighten me.

  6. About a year ago I built a bar in my man-cave and simply wanted a few high end spirits to display on my “top shelf”. At the guidance of the whiskey expert at the local Total Wine, I bought a bottle of 32 year old Berry’s Bunnahabhain Single Malt. It was just under $200 and come to find out, that was a great price. On the night the Orioles made the playoffs, a buddy came over and we opened it up to celebrate the O’s in the playoffs. After our first sip we looked at each other, thinking the same thing: “This is freaking good.” I had to force him to have a second glass because he knew it was not cheap. We ended up having three. I figured an expensive bottle like that would last me 20 years, but that bottle is all but gone at this point. I have acquired a taste for scotch, but am afraid that other whiskeys may not compare to a 32 year bottle. I have heard good things about GL 21 and look forward to trying it. Any other advise on whiskey would be awesome

  7. Hey guys I’m hooked. A friend introduced me to The Glenlivit 15 year, a year ago. I had never tasted single malt scotch. I then decided to purchase a bottle of the 18 year and it was awesome. For my 41st birthday I received a bottle of Archive and a box of Gurkha Ghost cigars. Ohhh my I’m in heaven!

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