...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Glenfarclas 105, 2016 bottling (NAS, 1 litre)

I used to love luv luff Glenfarclas 105, but when I bought a bottle last year I didn't luff it. The 2016 bottling seemed hotter, thinner, less rich and (redundant adjective) younger than previous versions. And I had a whole heaping litre of it. So I brought it to an event, wherein the attendees had never tried the 105, and the remainder of the bottle vanished without any complaints.

Just for kicks, here's the link to my first review of the 105, from more than 5.5 years ago. My how this mighty whisky has fallen.

Distillery: Glenfarclas
Ownership: J&G Grant
Region: Speyside (Central)
Age: NAS, no mention of age anywhere on the label
Maturation: ex-sherry casks
Bottling year: 2016
Alcohol by Volume: 60%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No
(Sample from my bottle, about 1/3 of the way down)

The nose is very floral and sugary. A bit of an earthy note combines with cinnamon sticks. But that's it for a while. After a half hour, there's some brown sugar, mint syrup and dried cherries. The palate is massively hot and drying. Lots of raw edges. Bitter oak. Some nuts and vanilla. It finishes bitter and sharp. Drying and peppery. Some sour vinegar and metal.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose remains floral, but picks up some malty notes. Hints of cherry candy and soil. No more dried fruit. A bit of wet cardboard. The palate remains drying and bitter. But it's sweeter and maltier, and it picks up a wee smoke note. The finish is also sweeter, while being less bitter and sharp. Still a bit sour and drying. Less peppery.

To be blunt, its palate and finish are pretty awful at full power. It's reminiscent of American craft whiskey, violently incomplete with loads of oak. The nose is pretty good though, once it's aired out. Diluting the whisky saves the whisky. Its sweetness and maltiness come out to play, adding some balance to all the raw notes.

But even with added water, this version of the 105 doesn't even remotely appeal to my palate. Then again, I've been a bit of a grump lately. I just watched Pixar's Inside Out and said "meh".

MAO reviewed a 2014 bottle of 105 and was unimpressed with that one, though he seemed to find more character to it. I sincerely hope future bottlings of 105 improve. In the meantime I'd go for Tomatin CS, Glendronach CS or A'bunadh far ahead of this one.

Availability -
The litre bottles are available in Europe and Japan

Pricing - One litre: $30-$50 (Japan), $35-$55 (Europe, ex-VAT)
Rating - 79 (with water only, low 70s when neat)


  1. I have an older bottling of this and on the tube it says (in fine print mind you) that it is 10 years old. So perhaps that explains the decline.

    1. I agree the age issue has something to do with this decline. If I were tasting this blindly I'd 1.) have no idea that it was Glenfarclas and 2.) would think it was a good deal younger than 10.

      I've seen bottles as recently as 2014 that had the "10 years old" notation on the back of the label. My label was missing that altogether. I brought it to an event as an example of a young NAS sherried Glenfarclas to compare to a well-aged bourbon-cask Blairfindy (aka Glenfarclas). I was stupid not to have taken a photo of the label beforehand. In any case, some folks at the event must have liked it.

  2. A comment by Jeff on my review from a couple of years ago indicated that it had been announced that the 105 was going to go NAS. Given my lack of enthusiasm for the 10 yo version I reviewed, I'm not likely to seek out the NAS replacement.

    1. I think I experienced the result of that transition. Boo.