Family Owned Distillery, 15 (The Whisky Exchange)


At the risk of lapsing into relevance, here is a review of another whisky that is still available. It is an exclusive for the Whisky Exchange, who had it as the first release in their somewhat confusingly conceived series called “Time”. Confusing because, as I noted while reviewing the second release in this series (this Benrinnes 20), it’s not clear how drinking whiskies of different ages from different distilleries is supposed to give you much sense of time as a variable—which I think is the rationale of the series. More importantly, however, this is a very good whisky. I was a little surprised to discover today that it’s still available. Perhaps the fact that there’s no distillery name on the bottle has something to do with it? Though you’d think most whisky geeks would just assume this is a Glenfarclas. That’s what I had assumed as well, and my initial pours had borne out that assumption. However, as the bottle has gone on, I could just as easily swear that it is a Balvenie (also a family owned distillery). The language of the TWE listing probably indicates it’s a Glenfarclas: Balvenie is not thought of as being “classically sherried”. Anyway, while I’ve liked this a lot from the get-go, it’s the second half of the bottle that’s really been great—and it’s from that part of the bottle that these notes were taken. Here they are. 

Family Owned Distillery, 15 (51.3%; The Whisky Exchange, Time series; from my own bottle)

Nose: Honey and toffee along with apricot and behind it all, some toasted oak. The oak gets stronger with time, but never overbearing, and quite a bit of citrus emerges too (orange juice). With more time there’s more of the apricot. With water there’s less of the oak and more of the fruit.

Palate: The oak bites first but all the fruit arrives hard on its heels. Big, mouth-coating texture. The bright fruit and the oak work well with each other: not integrated so much as each providing a balanced counterweight to the other. Not much change with time (maybe a little woodier); let’s see what water does. Well, it’s still very good but now the fruit and oak are more integrated, and the wood is more polished than toasted.

Finish: Long. The citrus and the oak vie with each other and salt appears at the end.

Comments: I’ve really enjoyed how this whisky has developed, and the second half of the bottle, in particular, has been very good.  Again, as I’ve got to the end of the bottle it’s seemed more Balvenie than Glenfarclas to me (though I’m probably wrong); at any rate, it reminded me of some of those old Balvenie 15 single casks that I used to love (though those were all ex-bourbon). Blind, I would also have believed this was a Glenburgie (not that it’s family-owned). Anyway, if I’d realized this was still available when I was in London, I might have bought a second bottle. Now, you may be thinking, didn’t you go to the Whisky Exchange shop a number of times, you moron? Yes, I did.

Rating: 88 points.

3 thoughts on “Family Owned Distillery, 15 (The Whisky Exchange)

  1. At the very end of the bottle now and the sherry influence is now far more pronounced on the palate than before: there’s some darker fruit (more dried orange peel than juice) and some graphite/pencil lead. And on the finish there’s some cocoa powder.

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