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Monday, October 19, 2020

Glenfarclas 22 year old 105

I am ambivalent about Glenfarclas.

Did I lose you? Did I lose everyone?

I used to adore the standard Glenfarclas 105 in my early single malt years, then I bought a liter of the stuff in 2016 and really did not like it. The 15yo was my favorite from their range, then I bought a bottle of it in 2016 and found it......fine. The 10 and 12 are also fine, probably better than current Macallan at the same age, but that's not saying a whole lot. I appreciate that they're still a family-run business and wee George Grant was really nice when I met him a zillion years ago. But I don't see the point to the enforced anonymity of their independent bottlings; it doesn't seem to improve their brand, wouldn't outing their name wouldn't hurt a thing.

BUT recently I've been appreciating well-balanced sherry cask whiskies more than I used to. That could be either good or bad timing for this four-part Glenfarclas Week, depending on the whiskies I've chosen. All four whiskies are official releases, one from the standard range, two exclusives to the US market and one curio I've been waiting to try since I'd first heard about it. I'll begin with the curio.

To celebrate Glenfarclas 105's 50th birthday, the Grants plopped 3600 bottles of a 22 year old 105 onto the European market. Oddly, it's still available on the primary market, two years later. I almost bought it blind last year, then a voice in my head said "Dude." So I didn't. But I did take part in a bottle split to grab a few ounces this year.

Distillery: Glenfarclas
Ownership: J&G Grant
Region: Speyside (Central)
Age: minimum 22 years
Maturation: sherry casks
Bottling year: 2018
Outturn: 3600 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 60%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No
(from a bottle split)

The nose begins with stones and roses, almonds and wool. Citronella, amaretto and Luxardo cherries. Smaller notes of pine, peach skins and brown sugar in the background. There's a lot of heat and noise in the palate at first. Orange candy, Luxardo cherries, peaches and dried cranberries appear once the heat clears out. There are minor notes of figs, pine and plantains. It has a good fruity sweetness overall. Dried berries, figs, metals and rock salt in the simple finish.

DILUTED TO ~50%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose gains focus and earthiness. Citronella and lemons meet wool, palo santo and an organic peat moss-ish note. The palate has a good bitterness mixed with creme de cassis, young armagnac and a hint of wood smoke. Then figs, lemons, dried cherries and carob arrive after a few minutes. It finishes in a similar fashion with more metals and smoke, and a little less fruit.

That worked well. How about a little more water to lower the ABV to the Glenfarclas standard?

DILUTED TO ~43%abv, or 2½ tsp of water per original 30mL whisky
Ah, things start falling apart at this level. The nose has generic sherry notes, something vaguely farty, bits of moss, cloves and pears. Sugar, eau de vie, vanilla, pepper and tart citrus in the palate. Caramel, metal and tart citrus in the finish.

This is the best Glenfarclas I've had in a while — though I haven't had any Glenfarcli in a while — but one must be gentle with the water. Though it was quite good at full power, I liked it best at the 50%abv mark, buyer beware at levels lower than that. But it's a good start to the week! Figs! I shall see how this stands up next to the standard 25-year-old on Wednesday.

Availability - Continental Europe
Pricing - €200 to €300
Rating - 88

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