Glenfarclas 21

With this post I complete, as far as I know, a series of reviews of Glenfarclas’ entire basic age-stated range. And it’s a large range. Here are the others, in order of age, if not in order of review: 8 yo, 10 yo, 12 yo, 15 yo, 17 yo, 18 yo, 25 yo, 30 yo and 40 yo. I don’t know if there’s any other distillery that has ever offered such a large range of stops up their maturation ladder—yes, I know the 8 yo and 18 yo weren’t really part of the core range. The 21 yo and 25 yo continue to be available at very reasonable prices relative to the competition—the 21 yo a bit above $100 in many US market and the 25 yo at about $150. Alas, the same can no longer be said about the 30 yo (which never came to the US) and the 40 yo but it’s hard to complain about Glenfarclas in this respect. They’re one of the few Scottish distilleries whose prices seem to have the middle-class whisky enthusiast in mind. The less charitable may note that very few of the releases in their core range ever seem to get very many people excited but not all whisky needs to set off fireworks. 

Glenfarclas 21 (43%; from a bottle split)

Nose: A classic mild sherry profile with light raisins, orange peel and a bit of malt and cocoa powder. There’s a leafy quality as well that almost amounts to smoke. Gets fruitier as it sits and the malty/cocoa powder note expands as well. With water there’s some toffee and more orange.

Palate: Pretty much as advertised by the nose but with less oomph. More oak here too. The mouthfeel is a bit too thin. Not much change with time or with water—in fact, water washes it out a bit too much.

Finish: The oak dominates on the finish as it gets spicier and also a little bitter. There’s something almost a little phenolic at the end. Nothing interesting here with water either.

Comments: This is a solid whisky but very far from remarkable. I’d take both the 15 and 17 yo over it for less money. It’s limitations are not those of the 8 yo and 10 yo—which have youth writ large on them—but actually of age: the oak is a little out of balance. If the fruit were more assertive it would be much better, I think. Still, I wouldn’t turn down a pour.

Rating: 83 points. (Pulled up by the nose.)

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