Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In the whisky cupboard ... Glenfarclas 10 years old

Glenfarclas is one of Scotland's last single malt whisky distilleries that remains under the ownership of the family of the original founder. Meaning 'valley of the green grass' in Gaelic 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.

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 - this 10, 15, 21, 25 and 30 plus the cask strength 105. Independent bottlings are available but cannot carry the Glenfarclas name as J & G Grant do not allow this. The bottlers therefore 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 lovely golden amber with a gorgeous nose that makes you want to try the whisky immediately. The nose is a combination of dried fruits (think of sultanas and candied peel, especially orange), sugary caramel (imagine brown sugar) and a hint of a warm spice (like nutmeg or cinnamon). On the palate, this is rich and feels creamy in the mouth but remains fresh as those dried fruits feel juicy and succulent. The caramel and the spice are still there and a sweet cereal grain note is also present. The finish is long, sweet and rich with a sugary note (that brown sugar again) turning slightly oaky and bitter right at the end. Sometimes, this bitterness can be unpleasant but here it works as the whisky is so well balanced.

This Glenfarclas 10 years old is a very good example of a sherry cask matured whisky. It is rounded, smooth with all the characteristics complimenting each other well. If you like your whisky or other spirits (such as cognac or rum) on the rich, fruity and sweet side, then you will enjoy this. It can be found in specialist retailers and some larger supermarkets for £25-30. A bargain price for such a good whisky.

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