A Balance of Sweet and Spice Scotch Whisky
It may be a “Highland malt in the Speyside way”- but the Glenfarclas 17 year old is far more than a sherry bomb. Made exclusively for US, Japan and Sweden markets, the expression delivers a beautiful balance of sweet and spice – and here’s a hint… it’s very nice.
All in the (Whisky-Making) Family
So here I present to you – Glenfarclas. The distillery has been family owned for more than 180 years! The J. & G. Grant family purchased the distillery in 1865 for 512 pounds! Currently, it is lead by the fifth and sixth generation. Furthermore, Glenfarclas has worked with the same family-owned Bodega in Spain for multiple generations. This has ensured the best European Oak Oloroso sherry casks have found a new home in the Highlands maturing delicious whisky.
Innovators by Necessity
Dealing with adversity is key in growing any business. Setbacks can ruin even a strong organization. How a company copes with those trying times may prove to be the difference in success or failure. Glenfarclas took a major blow in the 1960s when it lost a contract to supply whisky to a blender. Blends were the rage and single malts were not as popular as they are today.
The Grant family turned the situation into an opportunity. They increased their whisky for production under their own name as a Single Malt. And, in 1968, Glenfarclas released the first commercially marketed Cask Strength Single Malt. This malt was later named as the 105. Today, about two-thirds of the annual production is for single malt.
This strategy eventually produced an aged inventory, providing the basis for the of 50+ years single malt collection known as the Family Casks.
Distillery: Glenfarclas (glen-FARK-lass)
Expression: 17 Year
Origin: Highland in Speyside Style
NCF/Color: Chill filtered/natural color
Age: 17 Years
Date Distilled: 2002
Date Bottled: 2019
Cask: European Oak Oloroso Sherry casks for all 17 years
Fun Fact: Glenfarclas’ three pair of wash/spirit stills are direct fired. Rummagers (copper chain that rotates at the bottom of the still) ensure solids don’t stick to the copper and burn.
Let’s Pour a Dram…
Color: Rich Amber with slightly oily clinging.
Nose: Slightly burnt caramel corn and orange peel.
Palate: Sweet sherry (raisins, dried cherries and oranges) with a hint of pith at the end. Sweetness stays mid-palate with cinnamon spice around the edges of the tongue.
Finish: Lightly oily mouthfeel that lingers – so grab a chair, we will be here a while. Spice mellows out to a sweet and sour finish.
Sampling it Neat….
The sherry maturation is evident in the rich amber color of the dram. A quick swirl yields an oily and slow crawl down the sides of the glass. At 43% it is chill filtered however it has an enjoyable mouth feel and viscosity.
The nose finds sugary caramel corn that was perhaps cooked a bit too long and undertones of orange peel. At 43% this is an easy sipper. Sweet and Spice and EVERYTHING nice. Lots of stewed fruits but with a healthy dose of citrus. The finish is dry, pithy and evolving. Rolls around from sweet to long on spice then to dryness.
With a little water…
Definitely more butterscotch on the nose. Water thins out the sweetness leaving more cinnamon and an overall shorter, but still warm finish.
Glenfarclas 17 juggles a lovely balance between sweet and spice, neither is overpowering. But together, they create a fine dram. I bought this bottle in New Orleans for $95 (pre-tarrif) and find it is a great value for the age statement.
The 43% ABV is easy to enjoy but feels a bit hotter based on the spice and long finish. I’ve killed this bottle faster than most. So I’ll be on the lookout for another to stow.