Monday, January 9, 2012

Have just tried - Glenfarclas 17 years old

Glenfarclas distillery is located in the Speyside region of Scotland, close to the small town of Ballindalloch. It is owned by J&G Grant and is the second oldest family owned distillery in Scotland. Glenfarclas translates as ‘the valley of green grass’ from Gaelic. The distillery has an annual production capacity of three million litres and boasts the largest stills in Speyside. They are reknowned for their use of quality ex-sherry European oak casks for maturation and release a comprehensive core range of single malt whiskies. 

George Hay founded a distillery on the current Glenfarclas site in 1836, although records show that an illegal farm distillery had been operating there since 1797. He named the distillery Rechlerich (pronounced reck-leh-rick). In 1865, it was sold to neighbour John Grant and here started the second longest continuous line of family ownership in Scottish whisky history. Only the Mitchell family, who own Springbank in Campbeltown, have owned the same distillery for longer. In 1896, the distillery was completely rebuilt by John’s son, George, and with that came increased production and success, plus the name change to Glenfarclas. The distillery continues to be owned by the sixth generation of the Grant family to this day.

This 17 years old release is slightly more limited than its siblings in the core Glenfarclas range.  It is bottled at a strength of 43% ABV and should retail for between £65-70 a bottle.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a  golden amber and the nose has a number of lovely scents vying for your attention - imagine golden syrup, dark dried fruits (especially sultanas), candied orange peel and a pinch of baking spice, reminiscent of cinnamon and nutmeg.  With time, some further more subtle notes appear and combine well with the initial aromas.  These include some dried apple, brown sugar and a hint of fresh peach.  On the palate, this whisky is warming, velvety and soft with plenty of initial flavours coming through.  There is plenty of freshness, which can be lacking in whiskies with a heavy ex-sherry cask influence.  Initially there is a pleasant cereal note that mixes with sweet honey, some heavily spiced orange and sultanas.  These continue throughout and are joined by further notes which add depth and complexity - soft brown sugar, cinnamon bark, dried pear and apple, some drying oak and just the merest hint of distant earthy peat.  The finish is just as rich.  It begins sweetly, with plenty of honey and dried fruit, before turning drier and spicier.  The malty cereals and wood spices are particularly prominent here, as is the zesty spiced orange.

What's the verdict?
This is a lovely expression of Glenfarclas and one which is not quite as rich, sweet and heavy as some of the others in the core range.  It manages to combine a good level of sweetness and fruitiness with a balance of wood spices and dryness.  The element of prominent zesty orange is very pleasant and this, along with the hint of peat, gives a wonderful depth of character.  This is one of our favourite Glenfarclas single malts to date and a great addition to an already excellent range of whiskies.

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