Glenfarclas 2003 16 Years Old (Spirit of Speyside)
Did I mention that I went to the Spirit of Speyside Festival this year? Yeah, I think I did! While there, I also picked up a bottle of the Distillery Exclusive that Glenfarclas released for the festival.
Before you read any further, I should mention I did stay at the house of a Glenfarclas employee. An extremely generous and hospitable fellow, who welcomed this strange, tall Dutchmen into his house. Thanks again, Matthew! But other than free accommodation, I didn’t receive any other bribe of the sorts.
Anyhoo, one look at the picture above and you’ll know: this Glenfarclas matured in a first-fill Oloroso sherry cask. It’s unapologetic, so much is clear from the very first sniff.
Glenfarclas 2003 16 Years Old (58%, OB, C#89)
Nose: Very intense and dense. Candied fruits, followed by cigar boxes, hazelnuts and dark chocolate, and a whiff of cotton candy too. Maybe even a sliver of espresso, but also crème brûlée. Nice balance between sweet notes and darker, bitter notes. Adding water brings out more fudge-y and vanilla notes.
Taste: Big and bold, this takes no prisoners. A whiff of spent matches, as well as bitter coffee notes. There’s a touch of strawberry, but it is overpowered by ginger and chili pepper. Water calms it down a bit, leaving more room for slightly musty notes, damp wood.
Finish: More of the same. Lingering for a pretty long time.
There’s a lot to unpack here, and I love how well this whisky swims, leaving room to experiment with adding water. Even watering it down significantly still leaves a tasty and interesting spirit.
Last year, the Spirit of Speyside Distillery Exclusive was still available for a while after the festival ended. So if you’re interested, I suggest you drop by Glenfarclas.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.