Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Have just tried ... Glenfarclas 15 years old

Glenfarclas translates as the 'valley of the green grass' in Gaelic and is one of Scotland's last remaining single malt distilleries that remains under the ownership of the family of the original founder. It was established in 1836, close to the town of Ballindalloch in the heart of the Speyside region. It is owned by J&G Grant and the current company directors are George and John Grant - the great grandson and great great grandson respectively of the founder John S. Grant, whose name also appears on all their labels. Glenfarclas has the largest stills of any distillery in Speyside and produces three million litres of whisky per year. The majority of this is released as single malt and although it is popular in the UK, its main markets are in southern Europe, America and the Far East.

Glenfarclas is well reknowned for their use of quality sherry casks during the maturation of their whisky. The core range is extensive and covers different ages. Independent bottlings are available but cannot carry the Glenfarclas name as J & G Grant do not allow this. The bottlers have to use some creativity so the whiskies will be found named as 'Speyside's Finest', 'Secret Stills - Speyside' or something similar.

The colour is a gorgeous dark amber and the nose is fragrant and enticing. There are lots of dried fruit (think of raisins, sultanas and candied peel), sweet malted barley grains and just a hint of dark chocolate (many people say that sherry cask matured whiskies of this age remind them of Christmas or Dundee fruit cakes). On the palate, this is thick, rich and syrupy. It coats your mouth with the sweet fruit and cereal and the slightly more bitter chocolate from the nose mingling with warm spices (imagine nutmeg), a sugary caramel note and some oaky woodiness. The finish is long, smooth and intense yet it remains fresh with the dried fruit becoming almost more juicy with time. That oakiness from before comes through at the end, as does a hint of coffee beans. This Glenfarclas 15 years old is an excellent and sumptuous example of a sherry cask matured whisky and is a bargain at £35-40 a bottle. One that just has to be tried.

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