Thank you to /u/scotchable, /u/tishpickle, and /u/xile_ for these samples, respectively.
Glenfarclas has been written about quite a few times. One of two distilleries that, when I try them, I think “So this was in sherry, right?” However unlike Aberlour, they also work in ex-Bourbon, and as such, I usually lean towards Glenfarclas.
However there’s some holes in my reviews of the Glenfarclas range, and I felt that needed to change, because… reasons. I don’t know, I am a nerd and never thought I’d have the chance to try the 40 year, and then ended up with a sample, so I saved it until I was on vacation and had at least the 30.
Then I fluked out and ended up with the 105 20, which at one point I hadn’t heard the best, and then recently had heard better.
So let’s see how these sherry-cask-philiacs did with their older drams, shall we?
Glenfarclas 105 20 was created due to people’s love of the Glenfarclas 105. One of the few issues levied at the OB cask strength offering is that it’s too young, with some stating it’s 10 years old. As such, Glenfarclas released a limited edition to appease these arguments, and see if what all of us angry whisky nerds are correct.
I mean, that and money. Gotta make a buck these days people, it’s not a great economy out there.
So let’s see if additional age helped, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 7.5YR 6/8
Nose: Perfume, strawberry, pineapple, apple tart, violets/plum, sugar syrup
Lighter than I’d expect at 60%, this isn’t a sherry bomb. It’s more a sherry perfuming, like walking past a Lush. Don’t get that mixed up with walking into Lush, because that’s back to the sherry bomb.
Floral, fruity, nice sharpness, and sweet. It’s taken on the sherry quite a bit.
Taste: Cherry, molasses, nutmeg, grassy, honey BBQ sauce, chestnut
Continues with the red fruit, however with a richer sweetness, less floral, and more nuttiness.
Well, there’s some floral, however it’s more tied to the sweet side of things, so it comes off as honey. You know, bee vomit from flowers.
Finish: Anise, strawberry, floral, burnt sugar, grilled mushroom, grape
Back to floral, and lighter red fruits. Some umami/earth notes, however with some burnt edges. Any sulfur here has nicely been adapted into the dram.
Have to say the finish is simpler than I expected, as was the taste over the nose.
Conclusion: I can see why some people aren’t a fan of this dram. It fits into my wheelhouse though, as it’s subtle without being smooth (which is a silly way of saying that it has some depth without being simple and useless).
Nice spice on the finish, liked the nose for the floral aspects. Overall it’s a nice dram to have, at the end of the day. It never really “drops the bass”, as it’s whisky and not a song, however also as a metaphor. I enjoyed this because it’s subtle and nice to drink: Others may be disappointed as it needed those two or three really complex notes to bring it over the top.
Glenfarclas 30 is up next. This whisky recently had a re-packaging, with the new packaging representing the doors of the distillery. It would seem they are a bright red. You know, because sherry. Dammit.
See, I was joking about them being physically aroused by sherry before, however.. Hot damn, they are making that a reality.
Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 2.5Y 8/8
Nose: Earth, fresh cherry tarts, plum pudding, orange oil, clove/floral
Lighter nose. Takes quite awhile to pick up each flavour, however there’s some nice flavours going on here. A developed butter and rich red fruit notes.
That said, the low Abv. isn’t making this easy. I feel like some of the notes are half there.
Taste: Lime, asparagus, clove, almond, chocolate
Light, simple, vegetal. Some spice, some almond, and after awhile some chocolate, but hot damn this isn’t easy to pick apart.
Finish: Lemon, pepper, shitake mushroom, orange
Short. The finish is like a virgin guy on his wedding night. Over in an instant and barely drunk. There’s some interesting earth, however it’s over so quick you may miss it.
Conclusion: Honestly disappointing. I had other Glenfarclas at younger ages that were better. I’d even dare to say maybe this oxidized a tad, however this hasn’t kept it’s complexity at all.
Rather I’d say the low Abv. is hurting this. Too bad, I was looking forward to this one too.
Glenfarlcas 40 is the final one. Now having read the above, you may be concerned that it’ll be a repeat. That said, the 40 year old is left at 46%, probably due to common sense being used.
Seriously why is anything put below 46%? It’s not doing distilleries any favours.
Anyways, there’s also the discussion of old sherry casks. Older sherry casks that were properly seasoned can make a huge change, and I’m a sucker for the leather flavour they impose on dusty and older whiskies.
If only more people bought Oloroso, eh? Oh well. It is what it is. Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 7.5YR 6/10
Nose: Plum flowers, leather, cherry hot chocolate, brown sugar oatmeal topping, damp burnt teak
Here’s the nose I was looking for before. The additional alcohol by volume gives us the rich flavours of wet wood, winter fun things, and overall really nice tastes.
Yeah, I know it’s summer, but… I mean, it’s so tasty and I like winter flavours a lot.
For the topping: You know when you eat an apple blossom or an oatmeal muffin and it has that tasty topping on it with oatmeal? Yeah, the bad stuff for you. It smells like that, specifically.
Taste: Burnt caramel, leather, grilled lemon, cinnamon syrup
Love the old leather flavour, and I love that it’s the connector on this one. I’ll say this though: The nose was much, much more complex. I enjoy the taste, and the mouthfeel is very thick and tasty. That said, that nose wrote some checks that the taste isn’t cashing.
Finish: Leather, chive potatoes with sour cream, brine, gingersnaps, oak
Again, leather is the common theme, and that’s quite nice in drams. It connects the different parts to each portion. Love the earth development on this one, and the spices have nicely mixed with the caramel/butter notes as well.
The brine and oak are a little bit of a surprise, given the overall complexity. The brine adds a nice dimension, the oak… while not annoying, dips it down some.
Conclusion: A medium length finish on a whisky that is leather forward. What’s not to like? Some of the simplicity on the finish and the taste not lining up enough to the nose, however those are minor things. I took an hour to enjoy this, and it was so nice each minute of that time. Really, it’s the one I’d buy if I was buying a 40 year old whisky, and I really appreciate trying this.
It’s a must have dram if you see it somewhere. Now to find the 50 year old…
Scotch reviews #710-712, Speyside reviews #198-200, Whisky Network reviews #1176-1178
1001 Whiskies You Must Taste Before You Die reviews #343-344 (30 & 40)
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