If ever there were a competition to select the “People’s Distillery” Glenfarclas would surely be in the running. Independently owned and almost entirely bullshit free (can you remember the last silly Glenfarclas release?) the distillery puts out a lot of whisky, most of it within reach of regular punters. I am thinking of course of their regular range. It is true that in their “Family Casks” series they release a lot of fairly expensive single casks—not always very old—but it’s hard to begrudge them this when they regularly release a 10, 12, 15, 17, 21 and 25 yo, none of whose prices have risen dramatically in the last half-decade, and all of which are priced more reasonably than the malts in the range of pretty much any other distillery in Scotland (Tomatin may be the sole exception). Their 21 yo can be found for less than $125, and this 25 yo can easily be found for $150 or less. And even their 40 yo was priced far, far below whisky of similar age from their competitors (less than $500 in most US markets)—though it doesn’t seem to be around any more. Their success doing what they do seems to be one of the strongest rebuttals of the arguments made to rationalize increasing prices and the rush to NAS—keep in mind that most of Glenfarclas’s spirit is matured in ex-sherry casks (which you would expect would be another driver of cost).
I have not reviewed much Glenfarclas on the blog so far. This is entirely due to the fact that I emptied a number of my Glenfarclases right before I started the blog; since then I have been on a mission to drive down the number of open bottles on my shelves and so have not gotten around to opening any. I do have a sample of the 40 yo which I expect to review soon, but first I thought I’d get around to the venerable 25 yo. Next year you can expect reviews of the 15 yo and 30 yo from my own bottles.
Glenfarclas 25 (43%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Orange peel and some sweeter notes: light caramel, polished wood, sweet apricot jam; a faint hint of leafy smoke as well (or maybe that’s cocoa powder). The orange peel gets stronger and stronger as it sits—and is that a whiff of strawberry? Water does nothing good for the nose, but brings out a slightly metallic quality.
Palate: Leads with leafy, milk chocolatey notes with the citrus and a darker sweetness than on the nose playing around the edges. The mouthfeel is just a little too thin. With more time there’s some nice honey and just a bit of caramel to give it some depth—and the chocolate gets a bit darker too (all the way up to 60% or so). More citrus too now (somewhere between orange and lemon). Nothing good on the palate with water either—the fruit gets tamped down.
Finish: Medium. No new notes develop but that leafy note turns a bit grassy (not unpleasant though). More honeyed sweetness lingering into the finish with time. Water does lengthen the finish.
Comments: I thought the nose was the strongest part and that there was progressively less oomph on the palate and finish (though the palate did come on with time). I wish they’d bottle this at 46% as they do with the 15 yo. (I also wish the 15 yo were available in the US.) As it is, this is very nice and very, very drinkable, but I can’t help wondering what it would have been like at even 46%, leave alone cask strength. I think there are better malts available at the price (I think their own 17 yo might offer better value) but you’re not going to find better official 25 yo’s at the price. Hold the water.
Rating: 87 points.
Thanks to George for the sample!