It’s about time we dive into something special. Back in April, I proclaimed that we would open one of three 25-year-old single malts if we reached 10,000 followers by May 1. Fast forward six weeks, we achieved that mark well before the deadline and it’s now time we celebrate! Based on your feedback, I have decided to open the Glenfarclas 25!
Glenfarclas has been producing whisky since the mid 19th century and stand as one of the few remaining family-run distilleries in Scotland. The distillery is located the Speyside region but they market themselves as a Highland Malt. They do not advertise, they use low-cost, no-frills packaging and seem to have little tolerance for anything beyond necessity. All of their money goes straight into the production of whisky. As such, they offer 30, 40 and even 50 year old expressions, all at (relatively) reasonable prices for their age.
The 25 year is produced using a combination of first-fill European oak casks that previously held sherry and refill American oak ex-bourbon casks. While some of their expressions are more sherry-forward e.g. the 17 and 21 year, this is a more balanced whisky with far greater depth and complexity. As far as 20+ year old single malt scotch whisky is concerned, this is arguably the best value on the market.
I have to say that in the glass, this is one of the most beautiful spirits I have seen. I don’t get too into color, most of it is fabricated anyway, but just observing this one in natural sunlight is a pleasure. It’s gold and amber hues coexist like oil and water. /react-text
On the nose, we are greeted with an immediate aroma of stewed apples, sweet honey and vanilla. The sherry is there but it comes and goes in waves. There is a beautiful interplay between the European and American oak cask aromas, almost as if they refuse to coexist and will only come forward when the other is not around. It’s beautiful, it’s thought provoking and at the end of the day that’s what I want most out of a whisky. I can spend an hour just nosing this one as it is. Really top notch experience. /react-text
The palate is interesting. The sherry flavors are more flirtatious and they come and go as they please but the vanilla flavors from the American oak are much more present. I know that both cask types are used in this expression but I would have expected a bit more sherry. Not complaining, just intrigued. The delivery is surprisingly peppery at only 43% ABV. Had I not known any better, I would have guessed no less than 45% or 46%. Funny how whisky can work in mysterious ways at times. The honey and vanilla flavors play with the fresh fruit and clove spice in the way you would expect a whisky of this age to do. It’s smooth, it’s balanced, just a dream with a finish that never seems to end.
Overall, a great whisky. Aside from the fact that it took a quarter century to develop, the “wow” factor is somewhat minimal. Is that just a peat lover talking? Perhaps. On one hand you can argue that it delivers everything you would hope a premium, 20-something Speyside would. Everyone can appreciate this whisky, which is important if you are sharing it with friends. But on the other you can argue that it’s still quite expensive and for that kind of money, a more memorable experience is to be expected. We aren’t using any sort of formal rating system so I’ll just say this, if you have a chance to try it, please do. There is something enchanting about the Glenfarclas distillery. For most people, this will be the best whisky they ever tried. For others, we pay our respect to this one but acknowledge that there is still more to come, both from Glenfarclas and beyond.