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Glenfarclas 17 Year Whisky in a field of Yellowtop Butterweed

Glenfarclas 17 Year

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

Working in a family business is not an easy feat. Running any business is a challenge but throw in family issues, personality differences and a couple pout sessions of “Mom always liked you best” and it’s easy to see why the failure rate of a family business reaching the second generation is 70%! That remaining 30% must be pretty special.

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.

Scotch on the Bayou Glencairn glass with Glenfarclas 17 scotch whisky
Balance with each sip.

Distillery: Glenfarclas (glen-FARK-lass)
Expression: 17 Year
Origin: Highland in Speyside Style
ABV: 43%
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.

Final Notes:

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.

By the Way…

The photo of the Glenfarclas bottle was taken on February 9th at the camp. We had about five inches of water all around the house. White shrimp boots were required to get around the yard and to the pier. But even as the water rose, yellowtop butterweed wildflowers grew up to two feet tall. Mark’s bees went wild for it. We watched the bees work the flowers and then head to the hive, loaded down with pollen on their legs. Just a few wonders at the End of the World in Bayou Pigeon.

Have you had this dram? What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!

Slainte, Y’all

Please remember: These comments are just my opinion. We all have our own distinct flavor profiles. What one person loves may not be special to another. That’s beauty about the vast number of expressions – there is something for everyone. Explore and find what you like!

Lee Ann

Slàinte, Y’all! Life in Louisiana. A dram of scotch whisky. Adventures from Swamp to Scotland and the world.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Brad M

    Glenfarclas 17 sounds like some I’d enjoy too. I have the 25 but haven’t opened it yet . Slainte Lee Ann look forward to the next review.

    1. Lee Ann

      Oh wow! the 25! I’ve not had that but imagine it is really something! And thanks for all your kind word! The next review will come much sooner than the past ones! 🙂

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