Glenfarclas

 

Glenfarclas distillery was first granted a licence in 1836 when owned and run by Robert Hay, but it was purchased in 1865 by John Grant for the princely sum of just under £512. It continues to be independently owned and run today by the Grant family as John's Great-Great Grandson John L.S. Grant is the current Chairman.

Glenfarclas is a Speyside distillery, located in Ballindalloch, Banffshire and as stated above, currently operational and independently owned by the Grant family and in 1973 was one of the first distilleries to open a visitor centre.

It is also renowned for a high quality sherry cask policy throughout the range of bottlings.

 
 

My thanks to Teun van Wel for permission to copy & use the distillery  photos

More great distillery info here, thanks to Malt Madness

 
 

Glenfarclas operates six stills and they are some of the largest ones on Speyside.

 

General whisky characteristics: Rich, full-bodied, sherry, wood and dark fruits

 

 

 

Distillery Bottlings (OB)

   
   

Glenfarclas, 10y, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light oak

Nose: Initially leafy with a slightly farmy maltiness. The malt soon fades as a hint of liquorice root joins the leafiness. Eventually a slightly citrus vanilla appears, maybe even pineapple.

Palate: There's some definite pineapple on the palate, alongside liquorice root and all wrapped in autumn leaves. I also detect a suggestion of creamy vanilla.

Finish: Medium and slightly dry right at the end.

Overall Impression: A quite different Glenfarclas with that leafiness, citrus pineapple and vanilla, but also a good solid everyday whisky.

 

   
   

Glenfarclas, 12y, 43% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Spiegelau

Colour: Dark gold

Nose: Malt with hints of candy floss and butterscotch

Palate: Very smooth raisins and butterscotch with some malt. This soon engulfs the palate in spicy toasted almonds before gradually fading into a very long, warming finish.

Finish: Long and warming

Overall Impression: Lighter than the much older flavour & sherry bombs that Glenfarclas produce, but still a very enjoyable winter warmer.

 

   
   

Glenfarclas, 15y, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich oak / light amber

Nose: Very aromatic wood with a hint of cognac. In fact this soon becomes quite floral in a coastal, sea-air kind of way. Further development after some minutes brings a herb garden and then dark fruits.

Palate: A very creamy mouth-feel which initially offers dark fruits by way of dark cherries and plums, followed by hints of leather and then a suggestion of coconut right at the end.

Finish: Long, lingering and rich.

Overall Impression: An excellent whisky and extremely good value for money!

 

   
 

Glenfarclas, 17y, 43% ABV

Apparently a special edition for Travel Retail & limited markets

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

"Dram-atics" live review

 

 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich gold

Nose: Aromatic wood, high quality shoe leather and lightly smoked butterscotch.

Palate: Smooth, aromatic malt, freshly sawn wood in a field of violets and lavendar, slightly smoky dark fruits.

Finish: Medium to long, smooth and aromatically fruity.

Overall Impression: A very aromatic sherried dram with good complexity and great flavours without being overly heavy. I like it!

 

   
 

Glenfarclas, 17y, 43% ABV

A different edition or 'batch' to the 17y above.

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

"Dram-atics" live review

 

 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Teak

Nose: Aromatic aged oak with a slight hint of those lovely new Italian leather shoes and some dark fruits in the form of raisins and plums.

Palate: My initial impression was one of a slightly watery mouth-feel, but at the same time it's very smooth and aromatic with just a suggestion of fresh violets in a very positive way.

Finish: Delightfully long extension of the palate.

Overall Impression: This appears to be a different bottling to the 17y for travel retail which I tasted in the above note and the only suggestion of difference between the labels is the barcode on the reverse one which is vertical on the travel retail edition, horizontal on this one. This is also slightly more delicate in flavours than the other and if anything I like it more!

 

   

 

Glenfarclas, 25y, 43% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011

 

 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Deep oak / sunny amber

Nose: Very aromatic, almost perfumed dark fruits and wood. We're talking figs, dates and plums all possibly marinated in a cream sherry, all of which offers a great depth of aromas.

Palate: A traditional (English) Christmas selection of fruits and nuts, heavy on the nuts (almond, brazil & walnut). Very energetic!

Finish: Long, very long and rich.

Overall Impression: Almost one of my "Greats", but just not quite, although it is a truly excellent whisky and one you really must try!

 

   

 

Glenfarclas, 105, 60% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Spiegelau

Colour: Rich gold, almost amber

Nose: Perfumed leather and old oak. Very aromatic but still full bodied and quite heavy, getting more intensely aromatic as minutes pass.

Palate: Incredibly smooth before the tingling explosion bursts across the palate. Lots of dark fruit with hints of rich nuts.

With 5 drops of water in 2cl: The leather and oak have faded from the nose, leaving it more aromatic. The palate is much more intense as it would almost appear to burst into flames.

With 4 more drops of water (in about 1cl): The fire is subdued a little, allowing the more aromatic characteristics to dominate. It now has very aromatic leather as an array of flora vie for superiority.

Overall Impression: A big bang for your bucks, but be sure to add some water for best results!

 

   

 

Glenfarclas, 105, 60% ABV

Newer presentation than above

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Dram-atics "Advent-urous" live review

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich dark amber

Nose: Aged oak and dark fruits are abundantly present on the nose, but so is something slightly floral which gives this a lovely depth, rather than great complexity. After a few minutes there's a hint of wax furniture polish and then a little later comes that fine Italian leather.

Palate: Lots of dark fruits (currants, plums, raisins) are again evident on the palate, as are some mixed nuts after a few seconds, but this is pretty intrusive at 60% and I'm sure it will benefit fom a few drops of water.

With 4 drops of water: The wood and leather are immediately concentrated on the nose whereas the fruit and wood are more prominent on the palate. The fruit is also quite a bit sweeter with the drops of water.

With 4 more drops of water: Massive aromatic oak on the nose and nuts, wood and sherry on the palate, but now with a little more pepper, albeit less intrusively.

With a further 4 drops of water: Much lighter nose and more floral elements on the palate, although still with lots of wood.

Finish: Very long, extremely so with water.

Overall Impression:
I just can't help but say this is an excellent whisky for this time of year. It personnifies the festive season with dark fruits, nuts, lots of wood, hints of sherry and something quite aromatic. Just settle down, enjoy it and may all your Christmasses be 105.

 

   

 

 

Glenfarclas, 1987, Quarter Casks, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€ to €€€€€

Dram-atics Advent-urous live review (2nd entry below)

 
 

Glass: Bugatti Kelch

Colour: Very dark, teak.

Nose: Ahh yes, sherry, leather, musty old books and old wood.

Palate: This is warming. Sherry and wood in a deep-buttoned leather chair, with just a hint of orange.

Finish: Long, very long and repetitive.

Overall Impression: This is what I call my definitive 'Christmas Day dram'. Just imagine the scene; relaxing in an Olde English country house after enjoying Christmas lunch, sitting in your favourite deep-buttoned leather chair, in a study surrounded by musty old antique books on shelves of old oak. This whisky has it all! Old books, wood, leather and a glass of Christmas sherry just to complete the party.

Author's Note: The wood and leather are most prominent in a newly opened bottle. After a few days they recede into the background as the sherry comes to the fore.

Revisiting an old friend: It's that time of year again and how could I possibly run an Advent-urous series without revisiting one of my definitive Christmas dram?

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Amber

Nose: Slightly musty wood, dark fruits (primarily figs and plums) and faint violet giving a rather fragrant floral presence which certainly wasn't present last time.

Palate: Floral wood, dark fruits comprising plums, figs and raisins and just a touch of something rather aromatic and slightly perfumed. Perhaps lavendar?

Finish: Long and slightly dry right at the end.

Overall Impression: I speak so often about this being one of my definitive Christmas whiskies and it is still so, but this dram was from the last third of a bottle which has been some time and as such, it seems to have totally lost the leather effects and gained some more floral and perfumed ones which make it slightly different, but still excellent!

 

   
   

Glenfarclas, Vintage 1989, distilled 4th Oct. 1989, bottled 26 Aug. 2002, 43% ABV

Oloroso sherry cask, first filling, bottle No. 1174 of 1800

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€ to €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Spiegelau

Colour: Rich, polished, very dark old oak.

Nose: Slightly floral raisins, currants and prunes in an old oak vat with hints of very slightly smoky leather.

Palate: Very smooth, prunes and currants swimming in a cocktail of sherry and port, with a cognac in a marzipan boat floating alongside.

Finish: Medium

Overall Impression: Smooth, rich sophistication. I like this very much, but still not quite as much as the 1987 Quarter Casks which is sublime.

Whisky & Chocolate:

Sarotti No.1, 72% cacao with orange Combination: The chocolate is wonderful, as is the Glenfarclas, but unfortunately the strength of flavours in this whisky just overpower the chocolate and condemn it to insignificance.

Sarotti No.1, 75% cacao Combination: The 75% version of this chocolate, with tiny pieces of cacao is a far better partner for this Glenfarclas as both have similarly powerful flavours. They harmonise on the palate and the chocolate seems to not only lengthen, but add an extra dimension to the finish. A good pairing.

 

   
   

Glenfarclas, 2002, distilled 25.4.2002, bottled 18.8.2011, 58% ABV

First fill Oloroso Casks Nos.1575 & 1576, bottle No. 475 of 630

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Very dark teak

Nose: Toasted aged oak marinated in a mixture of sherry, amaretto and cassis. Then just a light sprinkling of rubberiness.

Palate: Rich and creamy sherried wood, hints of lighter fruit amongst blackcurrant and black cherries. Then slightly rubbery nuts leading into the finish.

Finish: Long and rich.

Overall Impression: Excellent, truly excellent and great value for money.

 

   
   

Glenfarclas, "Movember 2011", Sept 2002 - Sept 2011, 9y, 53% ABV

Two Oloroso sherry casks

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

A special bottling for Master of Malt's "Movember 2011"

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Glowing dark teak

Nose: Lightly smoked aged oak with hints of mocca and then intense oil of orange. Also slightly musty or dusty.

Palate: The oil of orange flavours immediately aim at the sides of the palate whilst traditional dark fruits concentrate on the middle. This is slightly dry but very mouth-watering as a suggestion of nuttiness leads into the finish.

With 3 drops of water: Lighter and slightly more fragrant wood on the nose. The palate is slightly fresher with less of that fruitiness.

Finish: Long and lingering, even longer with water.

Overall Impression: Excellent, truly excellent, but the water wasn't really necessary.

 

   
 

 

Glenfarclas, "Nth Whisky Experience, Las Vegas 2011", 1966-2011, 47.9% ABV

Cask No.2602, one of 219 bottles

Typical cost of this bottle; Unknown

Dram-atics Classic review

 
 

Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Amber

Nose: Plenty of rich fruit concentrated around plum or damson with a suggestion of aged oak. After a couple of minutes there's not so much an explosion, more of a manifestation of some wonderful floral and herbal notes in the background. Maybe even light spices too.

Palate: This is quite different to the nose as it exhibits coffee, dark chocolate and a generous portion of oil of orange. Terry's dark chocolate orange served with espresso anyone?

With 4 drops of water: More intense flora on both nose and palate.

Finish: Long and lingering with that coffee and orange, but considerably shorter with the water.

Overall Impression: A very good whisky with a marvellous nose and although the palate is richer, it doesn't quite live up to the beauty of the nose.

 

   
 

 

Glenfarclas, 1953-2012, 58y, 47.2% ABV

Cask No.1674, first fill sherry butt, bottled for Master of Malt / Wealth Solutions

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€ (70cl version)

Dram-atics Classic review

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Amber

Nose: Amazingly light with gently perfumed apricot fruitiness alongside hints of creamy toffee and a distinct suggestion of ancient wax seal on parchment. There are also sauteed raisins with apple.

Palate: slightly dry and very mouth-filling. There's creamy toffee served on a bed of Alpine flora with some quite amazing gentle smokiness. Creamy vanilla or even crθme caramel leads into the very long finish.

Finish: Very long, delightfully long with a creamy fruitiness.

Overall Impression: This is amazingly light and delicate, especially considering its age. A "Great" by a country mile in my book, in fact the best whisky I've yet tried in 2012.

 

   

 

 

 

Glenfarclas "Family Casks", 1990 - 12.12.2011, 57% ABV

Cask 5098 bottled for TSMC (Taiwan whisky club), bottle 414 of 596

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2012

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: About as dark as they get.

Nose: Massive freshly sawn perfumed wood. Then dark cherries, walnut and car polish, all marinated in amaretto. I can find no faults here at all.

Palate: Can this be even better than the nose? Oil of orange, dark chocolate, amaretto, almost Earl Grey tea and then a suggestion of cognac / armagnac.

Finish: Extremely long, hint of cognac, pure exotic luxury.

Overall Impression: An absolute gem. Very aromatic and not too heavy nose followed by massive but light-ish and fresh-ish palate. Altogether magnificently rich and complex. "Great" indeed.

 

   
 

 

 

Glenfarclas "Family Casks", 3.11.1994 - 08.05.2014, 58.7% ABV

Double Cask Oloroso 3913 & 3914 bottle 61 of 556

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

The colour is rich and dark (treacle toffee) with a very slight burgundy tinge.

The Nose has mild hints of oak but alongside rich and fruity red wine, something along the lines of a fine Haut-Medoc in character. Adding to this is a suggestion of prunes, cloves, almonds and raisins. We're talking bold, rich and quite luxurious.

The Palate has an initial burst of sweet tannins before all those great luxurious elements from the nose begin to appear and dominate. That rich (red wine style) fruitiness is quite marvellous, but it's soon eclipsed by a cocktail of oil of orange, dark cherries and dark, high-cacao chocolate. Wonderful.

The finish is satisfyingly long with what can only be described as a quite magnificent fruity, sherried coffee-ness.

Overall Impression: A true Great and you know what that means.

 

 

 

Independent Bottlings (IB)

   

 

Norse Cask, Rechlerich 1964, (Glenfarclas), distilled 1964, 40y, 53.5% ABV

Sent to me as a sample to try blind

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Dark and rich teak.

Nose: Rich, very rich dark fruits, old wood, leather and Pirelli P1.

Palate: Rich toasted wood and dark fruits. This is extremely rich and very, very intense.

 
 

With 3 drops of water: Extremely aromatic rich wood on the nose, spicier palate with wood, rich marzipan and more dark fruits.

Finish: Very long, does it ever end?

Overall Impression: Very old, very intense and a very good sherry monster. Don't expect to taste anything else for a couple of hours afterwards.

 

   
   

Weiser, 'Bridge of Avon', Glenfarclas, distilled 1989, bottled 2005, 55.8% ABV

bourbon cask No. 12569

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Nose: Raspberries and custard

Palate: Sweet floral spices

Finish: Long

Overall Impresison: A quite different Glenfarclas due to the bourbon, as opoosed to sherry, cask. Quite light, floral and dry.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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