Glenfarclas is one of the few independent distilleries left that are still family-owned and still have family working within the business. They uphold an unfaltering big rich house-style and very rarely stray from their traditional roots.
Very few distilleries have a core-range that can show off their spirit right through from 10yo to 40yo, with almost everything in between – and if you count the family cask series, you’ve got every year going right back from 1996 to 1952, all single cask and bottled at cask strength. They were also the first distillery to commercially release a whisky at cask strength – way back in 1968 – now that’s worthy of a championship whisky belt if you ask me! One of the best bits of whisky innovation since, well, the discovery of malting barley to make better whisky out of!
This wealth of maturing stock is unique and you won’t find this library of bottlings from any other distillery. Not only do they offer an almost unrivalled range but you will be hard pushed to see this level of commitment to the sherry cask. Only a small handful of distilleries are as ‘loyal’ to this style and even fewer deliver it as flawlessly as these guys.
So add all this together and you’ve got a unique distillery that doesn’t feel the need to veer from their well-troden and award-winning path. They have a winning formula that’s been tried and tested over the decades, “if it aint broke don’t fix itâ€ springs to mind.
‘Farclas fill two types of cask. Mainly sherry casks, exâ€“Oloroso and Fino from Seville in Spain, in both the traditional 500ltr butt as well as 250ltr sherry hogsheads. The second type of cask filled is the industry favourite – the re-fill Hogshead made of American oak.
Each bottling in this review is undoubtedly what we would refer to as a sherry-cask style, except for one, the 43yo from a cognac cask (in part 2).
Fruity and malty with a slight trail of smoke.
Mouth-coating but delicate, honey and sweetness straight up – the fruit emerging as you hold it on your palate, hints of cinnamon and spice.
Darker flavours emerge here. A hint of earthiness and trace of peat bringing balance to the sweetness.
If only all entry level single malts were this good. Around £30 across the board bargain!
Fond memories of this whisky, working through a half bottle on the train home to York back from Edinburgh after a trip to Islay. ’105′ with a group of friends and a deck of cards seems to create some kind of time vortex. One of the finest and fastest train journeys of my life.
Massively rich intense fruit assaults on every sensory receptor in your nose – far deeper and darker than the regular 10yo expression. Held back behind all that strength is a multitude of flavours. All kinds of fruit, honey, malt, spice, slight hints of treacle and liquorice lie deep in the distance, all together with marmalade and spread over a big wedge of slightly overdone granary toast.
Really big, this whisky bursts with a fruity intensity that almost knocks you back, as it holds onto your palate it grows with sweetness and delivers an explosion of grapey fruit and spice along with some golden syrup.
Grips onto your tongue like you’d grip on to a cliff edge. This whisky just will not let go. Starting off with an intense golden syrup flapjack that’s over cooked and almost overwhelming then mellows into soft waves of honey and fruit.
Overall, The gloves are well and truly off. ’105′ takes no prisoners and will give you a big fruity slap round the jowls. A big whisky that you know you’re drinking. Superb!
Subtle, light and creamy like fruit salad with some double cream in the mix, mandarin cheesecake served with vanilla custard.
Soft and delicate with plenty of fruit and rhubarb and custard boiled sweets. Not a complete dessert free for all. Dark chocolate and biscuit flavours and a touch of peat begins to emerge rounding it off and imbuing the whisky with complexity and depth.
Demerara brown sugar, macerated dark fruit and spice.
Overall a whisky which transforms on the palate from cheesecake in a summer garden to deep rich fruit pudding in a dark, dirty, candle lit Victorian kitchen. Made for travel retail and export you’re unlikely to come across the 12yo in the average specialist in the UK. My view is we’re missing out.
Pure Christmas cake I know this is used to describe a multitude of sherry-casked whiskies but this really is it. Tons of fruit and with a big sherry character and marzipan.
Soft and silky but not without a little bite which keeps it alive on your palate. Slight traces of peat amongst the weighty sweet spice and sherry influence.
Well rounded and delivers all that dried fruit from the nose along with butterscotch and red grapes. Something reminiscent of breakfast cereal bars with dried fruits and covered in that yoghurt stuff that’s not yoghurt.
Overall. The extra ageing has added real depth and complexity in all aspects from start to finish. Regarded by many whisky drinkers I know to be one of the best value whiskies available in relation to its age, price, style and undeniable quality. Awesome stuff.
Lighter than the 15yo, baked apples scattered with chocolate covered raisan and vanilla
Lighter on the palate than the 15yo, mellow and refined – the sherry and the spirit character are intertwined. As it sits on your tongue a grapey presence and some ginger bread, vanilla, little flutters of coco and a trace of smoke and a slight mustiness.
Mellow, spicy, chocolatey, slightly smoky and complex.
Overall. Soft and sophisticated dramming. Incredibly easy going and easy drinking, but with depth of flavour and complexity which keep it interesting in the glass.
Dark chocolate covered Belgium biscuits, big rich sherry tones – even more so than any of the younger expressions. Fig rolls and fruits of the forest gateaux, blackcurrants and something meaty like some kind of fruit-laden game casserole.
Awesome mouthfeel, the age is shining through and so are the tannins. The complexity is clear in the way the flavours evolve on your palate. Starting with dark fruit gateaux, along with big, juicy red grapes, the sherry ain’t shy here either – you’ve got Oloroso in spades and Liquorice-Allsorts shaken up in a bag of mixed nuts.
Dark slightly bitter chocolate, cola cubes, pistachio nuts and some trails of smoke. Slightly drying and really long.
If you like them well-aged, big and rich then this is one for you. A luxurious and decadent dram with a big bolshie character and little in the way of subtlety.
That’s it for part 1. Some fantastic examples here for you to go at, particularly if you’re a fan of the sherry-casked, big, meaty speysider.
See you back here for Part 2 very soon!