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Whisky Tasting Debrief: Glenfarclas

Glenfarclas Whisky Tasting

Our tasting this month was hosted by Glenfarclas on the 24th of October. Peter Donnelly took us through some Glenfarclas drams and the history of the distillery. The plot of land, which was originally a farm, was purchased in 1836 and converted later into the distillery in 1865. To this day, the distillery is still family run and the family currently live on the same land.

Glenfarclas predominantly use Oloroso sherry casks and they have been liaising with the same bodega for almost 50 years. The whisky speaks for itself and they do not use any maturation finishes as they want to get as much flavour as possible.

Pour your drams and join us on this ‘rollercoaster’ of a tasting!

Glenfarclas Tasting

Glenfarclas Tasting Line Up

The Drams

First dram, the Glenfarclas 10-year-old. This is an extremely popular bottling for the distillery, which is bottled every 6 weeks. The largest market for the 10-year-old is the UK and is highly popular in Asia due to the lightness of the spirit. At 40% ABV, it’s best described as a breakfast whisky with the crisp, smooth finish.

Next, the 12-year-old. Light sherried fruit on the nose, influenced from the Oloroso cask. Quite a sweet spice on the nose also that develops into a long spiciness in the finish. You can detect the sherry starting to develop more in this spirit compared to the 10-year-old. The 12-year-old was initially produced to be exported to the USA as they could not release anything younger than this.

Following this, a clear favourite from the night. The Glenfarclas 15-year-old. Peter described this whisky as an old traditional Glenfarclas whisky, it’s got a bolder flavour and roundness to it. On the nose sharp scents of fresh Sevillian orange and dark chocolate. A full-bodied whisky with a long sherry finish. Notes of orange and chocolate become enhanced with a tiny drop of water.

Never let anyone tell you how to drink your whisky, if you don’t think it needs any water or it won’t improve with a drop, enjoy it how it is. Yet, you begin to get to know what whiskies work well or even those that react badly to water for your senses.  

Glenfarclas Tasting 2

Glenfarclas Distillery

After some palate cleansers, the second half of the tasting begins with the 21-year-old. This is a great whisky for someone who doesn’t like whisky. Peter explained how a previous colleague believed this to be cognac and refused to think it was Glenfarclas whisky – it has this extreme rich Bordeaux note to it with dried sherry fruit. It is a very complex whisky as with each drink, more fruit and spice come through. Try this one a bit cooler and let us know if it changes the spirit in any way…

Next, Christmas in a glass, the 25-year-old. Lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, dark chocolate orange. First fill oloroso. The story behind this is quite interesting. Originally, they thought the spirit in the casks was 20 years old and then realised it was older than expected. Yet, it seems to have turned out well as it is becoming their second most popular bottling and now second in the UK market (behind the 10 y/o). Take your time and enjoy this one.

Interestingly, Glenfarclas’ older aged whiskies are not highly-priced, with the 21-year-old costing £105 and the 25-year-old at £150 from the whisky shop at The Clydeside Distillery. Especially when these whiskies are compared with other whiskies of this age, they are very well priced.

The sixth dram of the tasting was the 105 Cask Strength. What a whisky this is. For a cask strength, it is extremely smooth for 60% ABV and full-bodied, not overpowered by the alcohol at all. This bottling was about 8 years old. This whisky dates back to 1968. The distillery sent out 200 bottles of this spirit to local suppliers, family, friends etc, which was not currently for sale. They then realised they had created something special and first released a 22-year-old spirit, which sold out in one day! Don’t be afraid to add some water to this if you think it’s too sharp.   

Lastly, we had an extra dram on the night. Glenfarclas Family cask 1991. Each bottle of the Family cask has its own story and different aromas. This cask has been matured in sherry butts, influencing the stewed fruit and dark nut notes. This bottle was no 162 out of 549 available to purchase. The number of bottles allows us to see the traceability of the whisky and appreciate its uniqueness.

Book your tickets for our November Tasting now, you don’t want to miss this one! http://bit.ly/2LIU9hJ

When you’re there check out December’s tasting as well, a special evening hosted by our chairman, Mr Tim Morrison.