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Glenfarclas 15, 21 and 25

 
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bifter
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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 4:11 pm    Post subject: Glenfarclas 15, 21 and 25 Reply with quote

In October of last year I purchased a presentation box of Glenfarclas 15, which came with two miniatures, one each of the 21 and 25 year old expressions. I resolved that I would keep this bottle to be uncorked after Christmas dinner as I have heard it described as a 'Christmas cake of a malt' and it had the perfect provenance as a digestif. Glenfarclas is one of a large number of renowned distilleries that occupy an area of central Speyside no more than 15 miles wide e.g. Aberlour, Auchroisk, Aultmore, Benrinnes, Cardhu, Cragganmore, Dailuaine, Glentauchers, Knockando, Knockdhu, Macallan, Tamdhu (this is not an exhaustive list!). Founded in 1836, the Glenfarclas distillery was purchased by the Grant family in 1865 and has remained in their hands ever since. This continuity that dictates a strict adherence to classic production techniques, e.g. they still use direct-fired stills (the largest on Speyside). Glenfarclas stockpile large volumes of older whisky and the older expressions represent excellent value, e.g. a bottle of 40 year old can be purchased for circa £300.

Glanfarclas 15

Undiluted, the nose is enticing and rich with intense sherry-sweetness, marmalade, cloves and resin. That christmas cake is apparent, perhaps with some cognac poured over it. I added a little water as the 46% abv (3% more than most expressions) was a little too sharp when first tasting - this brought out orange zest in the nose and really set the esters going (boiled sweets?). The taste, then, was somewhat suprising at first, being much more savoury than I had anticipated. The initial attack of the alcohol gives way to a waxy, chewy dram redolant of unripe figs, i.e. only mild sweetness. There are toffee and caramel notes in there but they are well balanced with smoke, oakiness and a tea-like dryness. This theme persists in the medium-long finish, with a counterpoise of sweetness, dryness and smoke. Quite beautiful! And great value at around £40.

I don't want to keep referring to Jim Murray in my reviews but it's interesting to note that his score for this malt has dropped from 95 to 85.5 in the 2012 Whisky Bible. He cites a 'minimal sulphur' influence that kills the finish. His intolerance of sulphur (acquired from tarnished casks) is well-known and he describes it as leaving a 'dry, bitter residue on the palate'. I think my bottle had been sitting on the shelf a while so I'm not sure if it belongs to the same bottling , however I'm not sure I'd have the expertise to detect this influence anyway. I will have to defer to greater experience on this however 85.5 still puts it in the 'Very good' category.

Glenfarclas 21

Obviously, being from the same stable, there are similarities with the 15. I won't rehash the notes above but, rather, point out the differences. The nose was more aromatic and perfumed, the fruity notes were more apple-like than orangey and the resin was more reminiscent of pine than oak. Perhaps a slight mintiness? The taste was sweeter, more honeyed and smooth with chewy McCowan's toffee bars. No need for water in my opinion. My only note on the finish was 'tart'. Not sure if it would warrant the extra £20 over the 15 year old but very pleasant.

Glenfarclas 25

Now we're cooking with gas! In the glass this dram was significantly darker than the other two and had huge legs - in fact the beads didn't even start forming until the liquid had slipped back into the glass by about half a centimetre, probably over the better part of a minute. The nose was classy, like the 21 the theme was perfume and apples but the more obvious sweetness was like maple syrup. In the mouth there was no attack whatsoever, just gentle, smooth, ripe fruit with hints of chocolate and coffee. There are clearly some casks in here well beyond the 25 year age statement however the younger casks keep things fresh and grapey. The finish was longer and developed more than the younger bottlings, ending on a fresh, almost minty note. At around £95 for a bottle, this is a treat but really represents value for what it is. Stunning!
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Samson
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you ever get the chance to taste the Glenfarclas 17 or 30 take it as they as outstanding, the best of the Glenfarclas core range IMO
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Big Mac
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Samson wrote:
If you ever get the chance to taste the Glenfarclas 17 or 30 take it as they as outstanding, the best of the Glenfarclas core range IMO
100% AGREE, for me Glenfarclas offers a superb quality range no matter which expression you are drinking
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bifter
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheers guys, will do if I get the chance. I'll be 40 in a couple of years and I thought I might get the Glenfarclas 40. It's good value for its age and it will probably be the last time I can 'realistically' afford a whisky as old as I am! Unless you have any other suggestions?
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Big Mac
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Joined: 02 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bifter wrote:
Cheers guys, will do if I get the chance. I'll be 40 in a couple of years and I thought I might get the Glenfarclas 40. It's good value for its age and it will probably be the last time I can 'realistically' afford a whisky as old as I am! Unless you have any other suggestions?
I can highly recommend the Glenfarclas 40, it is outstanding for a whisky of this age and like the rest of the Glenfarclas range it is priced to be drunk.
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