“Of all the Whiskies, malt is the king, of all the kings, Glenfarclas reigns supreme” – penned by a rival distiller in 1912.
Glenfarclas is located on Speyside nestled at the foot of Ben Rinnes and was one of the first distilleries to experiment with maturation in sherry barrels, setting the trend for many other Speyside distilleries. Glenfarclas is one of the few remaining independently owned distilleries, founded (legally) in 1836 and owned by the Grant family since 1865. It retains its traditional values and produces full bodied whisky with sherried style from uniquely sized and shaped stills
There was lively discussion with Nick throughout his presentation; was it just a coincidence that the discussion got livelier the more the evening progressed? Learned studies have shown that there is a definite link between loquaciousness (I wouldn’t have been able to pronounce that at the end of the evening) and the amount of whisky consumed, so just maybe the whisky had a contributory effect.
The first three tastings - raw Spirit "straight from the still", plain cask and Oloroso are non-retail and provided an excellent insight into the ‘raw spirit’ and the different characteristics imparted by maturation in oak and sherry casks. The retail expressions started off with the 10 YO, progressing through the 105 cask strength, the 15YO, the 21YO, the 25 YO and finishing with the 40YO - a superb selection of their current range. Subsequently a straw poll was taken to identify the favourite whisky and the one that would most likely be purchased was ... keep reading.
The opening salvo of the evening was a bottle of spirit straight from the still. This cannot be classed as Whisky as it has not been matured for the minimum 3 yrs in Oak casks. It is as clear as water but worlds apart.
The nose is pungent with fruits. Figs, Apples, citrus and barley. It is strong yet not over powering.
On the palate gives you these fruits as well as cut grass. The finish is short but warming. It is very pleasant and actually is nice to drink in it's own.
What a fabulous experience. This is rare treat and not for sale in the shops.
Drawn off 23.9.2005
Colour: Very pale champagne
The second bottle of the evening was another cask strength spirit that is not on general sale. Glenfarclas make their single malt Whisky by using spirit stored in Plain cask as well as spirit stored in Olorolo casks.
The nose is musty with ripe dates, raisins, a hint of mint. It is fruity with cut grass and a tang of oak.
The flavours of this are not as nice as the nose. I don't mean that as negatively as it sounds but the nose is quite elegant and fresh and on the palate it is more subdued. Cut grass, raisins, lightly spiced oak and gentle fruits.
The finish is drying, short and spicy with a very slightly bitter oak tang.
Drawn off 11.3.2004
Colour: Dark mahogany / Burnt amber
This is where the fireworks really started. This is the final of the bottle we tried that can't be bought in the shops. This is spirit that has been exclusively stored in European Oak ex-Oloroso Sherry casks for the best part of 10 years.
The nose is big and fruity. Raisins, dates, figs, plums, sweet fudge and sherry. It is a truly wonderful nose.
On the palate it doesn't disappoint with smooth fruits, oak and sherry. The finish is long, sweet, spicy, warming and mouth watering.
Glenfarclas blend together the plain cask and Oloroso cask spirit together but I really think that they should sell this as it is. Wonderful!
Colour: Light Gold
The 10 year old is the entry level bottle from Glenfarclas. It is the only bottle that we tried on the night at 40%.
The nose gives off sweet sherry, orange peel, honey and vanilla.
The palate delivers sherry soaked dried fruit, a light smokey sweetness with vanilla and cinnamon.
The finish is medium long, spicy and lightly smoky.
Colour: Dark Amber
The Glenfarclas 105 is closely related to the 10 year old. Aged for around 9 years it is bottled at full cask strength of 60%. Don't be afraid of the strength of this though because whilst it is powerful, it is smooth and surprisingly drinkable without adding water. That being said, I have added a drop of water for the tasting. It helps bring out some more of the flavours and aromas.
The nose is slightly smoky, sherry, oak, aroma of sticking plasters, plums and ripe fruits.
The mouth feel is amazingly smooth and creamy. Spicy, sweet honey, vanilla, dates and figs.
The finish is medium long, smooth and well rounded. Strong yet smooth.
Colour: Golden Amber
It is a wonderful sherried Whisky which oozes class and competence.
In the glass you see a golden amber liquid. On the nose you start with Sherry, salt, dark fruits including dates and raisins followed with a twist of orange zest. Slightly peated and a wisp of smoke.
This is one of the best sherried whiskies that I have tried. It is smooth, rich and well rounded. This is full bodied, sweet with plums and dates, rich sherry and spicy oak.
The finish is medium long, warming with sweet sherry, dried fruits and a mild spice. I have seen the description of Christmas cake used for this bottle and I can't disagree. It's a real gem and one to be savoured. A real mouth watering delight.
Colour: Dark golden straw
The 21 is a great example at a very reasonable price.
Nose: Honey, Sherry, creamy, oak, vanilla, leather with a wisp of smoke.
Palate: It has a wonderful smooth start almost creamy, flavours of sticky dark fruits like plums and raisins, spiced dates and gentle smoke. Peppery bite and some nutmeg.
Finish: A good length (medium to long) which as a gentle spice, very light smoked fruits and sherry tang.
By this stage you will notice that the bottles are all fairly similar in design and the tasting notes do not vary wildly. This is a good thing as it allowed us to try very similar spirits that had been aged differently. The 25 year old is where the price of the bottle starts to get a bit more serious. We are no longer in double digits.
Nose: Vanilla, sherry, cheese curd (odd I know), green apples, orange zest.
Palate: Smooth and creamy. There is a good spicy tang from the European oak casks. It's not overpowering or bitter but nicely balanced against the fruit. Sweet sherry and fruit.
Finish: Smooth, medium long, fruity.
I had hoped the 25 would be a big step up but in all honesty I was disappointed. not that it isnt very good, it is. I just wanted it to be significantly better than the 15 and 21 (which are both very, very good) and it isn't.
Colour: Dark Gold
This was a Whisky that has been on my wish list for a long time now. It is expensive and very old. The spirit has been sitting in European oak casks for a minium of 40 years and thei retails at over £300 per bottle. We were very lucky to all be able to taste this Whisky and I thank Nick for managing to bring some with him.
Nose: Smoky upfront, leather, burnt toffee & liquorice. It smells heavy, dark and rich with damsons and oranges.
Palate: Smoky, spicy, leather, sherry, stewed damsons, oranges, Christmas fruits, and chocolate.
Finish: Long, dry, sweet, mildly smoky.
This is a great aged expression. First bottled in 2010 it has won it's share of awards and I can see why. For those of you who like myself really enjoy the range of Glenfarclas whisky this is a must try if you are lucky enough to get the chance.
Overall, on the night the 15 year old was the bottle most people would buy and was voted as the most popular overall. It does show that whilst age is a bit of a holy grail with Whisky... if it taste great then who cares how old it is.
A huge thank you to Glenfarclas for supplying the Whisky and to Nick for his amazing depth of knowledge. his passion and enthusiasm were infectious and without him it really would not have been half as good.