We tasted a vertical of Glenfarclas this Friday, me and my buddies, which include a couple of industry experts. The purpose was to extend our whisky experience and have a great time with good friends.
I chose Glenfarclas as it is a traditional family owned Speyside Distillery with highly comparable different ages of whisky. I have been drinking the 12 year old for a while.
Glenfarclas is now in its 6th generation of ownership My Dad told me he was at school with the 4th generation! – I was a late baby. Glenfarclas make a traditional malt, in large direct fired stills. The whisky is matured in carefully selected ex sherry European Oak casks in dunnage warehouses in the Ben Rinnes area of Speyside.
We started with the 10 year old. The nose was sweet, malty, with sligh hints of smoke with spices, vanilla, honey and a touch of ether and pear. The taste was rich with caramel toffee, syrupy sherry and spicy notes. The finish was long. Overall a superb 10 year old, elegant yet rich and tasty.
The 15 year old moved the flavours on with more intensity. At 46 ABV, it had a more complex nose, sherry, smoky, malty and peat. The taste was sweet, sherries and caramel to butters scotch with a hint of heat . It was very chewable in the mouth with flavours of dates, cardamon, cloves and nutmeg and an early hint of spearmint or basil. A Long finish continuing to deliver complexity. We all loved this whisky and it benefitted for a 15 minute rest after pouring until tasting. A drop of water made this sweeter and added complexity.
Finally the 21 year old at 43 ABV. We waited 20 minutes to taste this. Vanilla, fruit, spices, in abundance. McGowan Highland toffee sensations – the one with the Highland Cow! Peat hints on the gentle smokiness. There was a taste of Oak about it and less Sherry than the others. It had the longest finish. It needed water to bring out the full flavour but not very much. A wonderful dram, I will return to. It was not the instant favourite the 15 year old was but over time with patience it became a classic malt – my personal favourite.
Across the three ageing undoubtedly developed the flavours, gave more complexity and depth. Each whisky was exceptional in its own right. I personally would not rank any one above another as each although clearly from the same distillery gave a different tasting experience. Sure the 21 was most expensive but still great value. The 15 year old gave best value of the three – a whisky I will keep drinking often. The 10 a great introduction to more rich full bodied sherries whisky. All 3 malts are reasonably priced compared to many.
These three malts make a great vertical and I also would add the 12 which is also identifiable from 10 and 15 as all 4 are clearly just aged versions of the same whisky difficult to find these days of many different finishes.
We added water by pipette – well actually a straw with finger over one end to ensure control over the small amounts of water needed.
It was a calm and studious evening until we had some fun shots in dark chocolate shot cups – There were 3 approaches, sipped, A nibble then in the mouth or all in at once!. Caution is needed for the all in at once method. The perfect palette livenener for this tasting was a couple of squares of 85% dark chocolate.
A brilliant evening with friends which it really is what whisky is all about and three real enjoyable traditional whiskies.