I don’t want to jinx it but after almost two weeks my sense of smell and taste are back to normal. I took a couple of days to be sure, tasted some whiskies I’m very familiar with to calibrate my palate, and here I am now with a review of the Glenfarclas 30.
There have been a number of releases of the Glenfarclas 30. I purchased this in 2014 from the Whisky Exchange and based on squinting at the etched bottle code I’m pretty sure this is from the 2014 release. As with the 15 yo this is not available in the US (that I know of). Unlike the 15 yo, it is bottled at the 43% abv of most of the regular range. This is not my first time drinking it: I opened it for a gathering at my friend Rich’s place late last year (where it was overshadowed by some far more expressive malts). It sat with a big squirt of inert gas till a week ago, when I took it to my local group’s May tasting. Everyone there liked it, but with my nose out of action I wasn’t drinking. I did save a couple of two ounce samples for myself from when the bottle was at the 2/3 full mark and it’s from one of those that I am reviewing now. A really fascinating history, I know. Anyway, I’m intrigued to see if I’ll like it more now.
Glenfarclas 30 (43%; 2014 release; from my own bottle)
Nose: Pine resin, some old wood mixed in with a metallic note (a box that held old silverware?); gets nuttier as it sits (hazelnuts, walnuts) and drier even as it gets fruitier (dried orange peel). That metallic note begins to merge with the fruit and there’s a bit of blackberry too now. The fruit never gets very intense but there’s more of it the longer it sits: sweeter notes now of peach and apple. And with more time that note of old wood picks up some camphor. A small drop of water pulls out more of the berry note and blends it nicely with the old wood and camphor.
Palate: Spicy arrival with the wood and the citrus. The camphor is below that with all the more delicate fruit. The mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I would like but it doesn’t taste underpowered. On the second sip the wood is a bit too dominant; there’s a hint of coffee too now. Picks up more intensity as it goes but not any additional complexity. With water there’s less wood and more of the camphor
Finish: Medium. Still spicy but that metallic/pine/camphor thing is to the fore here along with some white pepper.
Comments: The nose was the best part, I thought. At any rate, it was where the “old whisky” notes were most apparent with the delicate interplay of old wood and nuts and citrus with richer notes lurking below—and it needs concentration and time to get to all of that. Unfortunately, those notes never made their way out fully on the palate. I wish they’d bottle this and the 25 yo at the 46% of the 15yo. At any rate, it’s really not the heavily sherried malt that you might expect if you read the notes on Whiskybase, as I did after recording my own (though it’s not clear there which release people are reviewing and rating).
Rating: 86 points. (Closer to 90 if I were reviewing the nose alone.)
[I’ll revisit the remaining two ounces in a week or two to be safe.]