It’s been a few weeks since I posted a whisky review. Last week’s booze reviews were all of rums (Caroni, Caroni, Worthy Park); and the week before focused on brandies (Lous Pibous, Dartigalongue, Copper & Kings). It’ll be whisky from now till the end of the month but I’m going to keep this week themed as well: it’ll be all releases of sherried whisky, and all from Glenfarclas. I’ll begin with this 15 yo and then go up in age with each review.
This particular release was bottled for the Whisky Exchange. I’m not sure if it was from a single cask and nor am I sure why no vintage is noted. I suppose it’s possible that it’s a vatting of at least 15 yo casks from a couple of different years, but that seems like a lot of trouble to go to and not mention or mine for marketing reasons. More likely, I’d guess, is that this is just TWE being idiosyncratic. They’ve released other whiskies too that bore no cask or vintage information (such was this Laphroaig 16). I’ve had my eye on this Glenfarclas for a while—almost pulling the trigger a couple of times when friends were coming over from London. The thought of a cask strength version of the excellent 15 yo that is not available in the US was enticing; but there’s no guarantee, of course, that a cask strength version of the 15 yo is what this amounts to. Will I regret that uncharacteristic restraint? Let’s see.
Glenfarclas 15 (58.6%; bottled for the Whisky Exchange; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Orange peel, brandied raisins, toasted oak and a cereal note. More oak on the second sniff and more spice as well (cinnamon). More fruit with a few drops of water: some apricot, some plum (but the oak’s still here in the background).
Palate: The oak hits first and there’s quite a lot of it. It’s not tannic/mouth-furring but it dominates. Perhaps because of the oak, it feels hotter than expected at 51.5%. Leafy notes on the second sip and even more oak. Not much change with time and air. Water pushes the oak back a fair bit and pulls out some brighter citrus and the apricot from the nose follows through as well.
Finish: Long. Nothing new here, just more oak and alcohol. As on the palate with water.
Comments: A bit of a disappointment. This seems driven more by the oak than the sherry, which is anyway more on the dry rather than rich side. Well, if I had a bottle I’d play around with water to figure out the sweet spot; on the whole, however, I’m glad I never did buy a bottle.
Rating: 84 points. (Pulled up by water.)
Thanks to Sku for the sample!
A little bit of pedantry: The ABV of this whisky is 56.8%, so it’s no surprise “it feels hotter than expected at 51.5%”. The strength of 103° proof stated on the label (a nod to the Glenfarclas 105°) is in the old English proof system, which is historically based on the flammability of a spirit and amounts to more or less 1.75*ABV, as opposed to the more simple-minded American proof system which is defined as 2*ABV. The English proof system is obsolete these days – the only place I’ve come across it is Glenfarclas branding – so it’s easy to see how the confusion could have arisen.
Obsolete measurement units aside, what a shame this is so dominated by the oak. I like the regular 15 quite a lot and had high hopes for this one.
Aha—that’s not pedantry, that’s just simple correction of an error; especially since the correct abv is on the sample label! Thanks for pointing that out.
And I should add that my view of this whisky being dominated by oak seems the outlier, at least going by the reviews on Whiskybase.