Another review and we’ve stumbled upon yet some more affordable Glenfarclas. Sure, their Family Casks are expensive, but they more than make up for it with their core range and other releases. Now they’ve teamed up with The Whisky Exchange for two high strength versions: a 15-year-old bottled at 100 Proof and a 21-year-old bottled at 95 proof.
I remember very well the first time I tried the Glenfarclas 40. It immediately led me to proclaim “I want one”. And it apparently worked, because not long after I actually got one as a 30th birthday present. Yep, that was a memorable moment. But, as much as I fell in love immediately with this older expression, I find Glenfarclas in general has somewhat of an acquired taste.
Glenfarclas is known for its sherry maturation, but doesn’t neatly fit in most people’s box of what that should taste like. The core range isn’t heavily sherried like Macallan once upon a time used to be, or GlenDronach more recently. Instead, it mostly is a much more subtle sherry influence (sometimes aided by refill casks) leaving a lot of room for the heavy, fruity and earthy new make to leave its mark. To me, it’s this earthiness especially that makes Glenfarclas very singular.
Among fans of the distillery, there’s usually a discussion as to which of the Glenfarclas 15 Years or 21 Years is the best. I usually go back and forth between the two. The higher alcohol percentage benefits the 15yo, but the 21yo is usually a little richer in sherry influence. But both the exclusives for The Whisky Exchange are bottled at a significantly higher strength than the core range editions, making for a more equal playing field. I’m curious to see how they stack up!
Glenfarclas 15 Years 100 Proof (57.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange)
Nose: Orange marmalade, sultanas, crème brûlée and fudge, with touches of warm apple sauce and cinnamon sprinkles. Also some notes of tobacco, char and a whiff of biscuits. Taste: Creamy and oily, maybe a little dry. There touches of powdered sugar, oranges, charred oak and a whiff of menthol tobacco. Also fudge, sultanas and fresh ginger. Finish: Lingering notes of pepper and burnt orange peel. Somewhat bitter. Finally a touch of quince.
Rather full-bodied and while the spices and charred oak are somewhat dominant, they leave room for some fruitier and sweeter notes as well. Available here.
Glenfarclas 21 Years 95 Proof (54.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange)
Nose: Earthy and a soft graininess, but mostly raisins, figs and prunes, as well as tinned apricots and heather honey. Comparatively much fruitier than its younger sibling. Just a thin copper/sour note, but mainly rather ripe and lush with a tinge of fennel. Taste: Creamy mouthfeel and the fruitiness remains, rather a bit brighter than the nose suggests with tangerines and sultanas. But also more room for pepper, clove and nutmeg, as well as some charred oak and sandalwood. Finally a whiff of mint. Finish: Tobacco, a whiff of pine and ending on juicy red fruits.
A little less oak-forward and certainly fruitier, although the palate is spicy and somewhat earthy as well. Available here.
These releases are friendly priced and you’re well off with either, whether you decide on the Glenfarclas 15 Years 100 Proof or the Glenfarclas 21 Years 95 Proof. Both are rather classic Glenfarclas, so if you’re already a fan of the distillery, you can hardly go wrong.