...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Glenfarclas 15 year old, 2016 bottling

Before I bore or horrify you with my Japan whisky tales, I'll plop a couple more scheduled reviews in the blogwater. Both of these posts will be updates of reviews that were done some time ago, but this time the samples pulled from full bottles(!) that I'd utilized for recent whisky events. Two Glenfarcli, to go.

Today, it's a review of the 2016 bottling of Glen First Class, Blairfindy, Probably Speyside's Finest, Ballindalloch Glenfarclas 15 year old. It was almost unanimously the favorite at my most recent event, even though it was the second cheapest out of the six malts presented. And, for whatever it's worth, most of the people who attended the event were bigger fans of bourbon than scotch.

The 15 year old holds the distinction of being the only member of Glenfarclas's regular range that is bottled at 46%abv. Even the 30 year old is diluted to 43%. And though I haven't tried the 30, I've historically preferred the 15 over the 17, 18, 21 and 25. Either those three points and lack of filtration add a substantial richness to the whisky, or 15 years is the honey spot for 'Farclas. In any case, it is available in Europe and Asia, but not in the US of A.

I reviewed Glenfarclas 15yo more than 4.5 years ago. Jeebus. Things were different then. Anyhoo, let's see how it do.

Distillery: Glenfarclas
Ownership: J&G Grant
Region: Speyside (Central)
Age: minimum 15 years
Maturation: ex-sherry casks
Bottling year: 2016
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No
(Sample from my bottle, pulled the day it was opened and finished at an event, last month)

The color is a basic gold, lighter than my bad memory remembers the 15 to be. The nose starts with citrus, walnuts, shortbread and brine. Very little sherry cask action so far. Hints of peach and flowers. After a while in the glass, the whisky develops a solid sambuca-style anise note. Big on prunes and raisins in the palate. Yes, here are the sherry casks. Roasted coffee and caramel sauce. Those cheapie handheld apple pies that are sold alongside single-pack Twinkies. You know the ones. Toasted oak spices and black pepper in the back. It finishes with bitter coffee and prunes. Lightly salty and spicy, with that oakspice.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose is all McInotsh apples and raisins. While the palate gains some dark chocolate, sweet and sour berries, prune juice and a floral note. Still plenty of black pepper. It finishes with prunes, chocolate milk and a mild sweetness

Though I'd be happy to recommend this whisky over all the Macallan products under 18 years of age, and many batches of the Mac 18, my enthusiasm about the Farclas Fifteen has dampened slightly. It's a good example of well-matured sherry cask whisky with a good presentation and a good price. I don't think one can get a better sherried whisky at the $50-$60 range. But...

...the thrill is gone. It's gone away. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's the whisky. In fact *gasp* I liked it better diluted to 40%abv. The chocolate part reveals itself there. Perhaps I should have paired the whisky with Nutella.

I'm kinda glad I didn't bring home a bottle of it from Japan. Whisky bottles violate the laws of physics, becoming remarkably heavy, once they enter one's luggage.

Availability - Everywhere except here
Pricing - $45-$65 (ex-VAT), hasn't changed in four years
Rating - 84