Glenfarclas 21yo (43%, OB, Circa 2006)

Following up on the 15yo I reviewed last, here is the 21yo Glenfarclas from the standard range that was around in 2006. Trying the 15yo I was in a way amazed how the feel was “different” from the more modern malts that are around today. There seems to be an old way funkiness to that Malt. I’m quite curious now, how this 21yo will do.

Glenfarclas 21yo (43%, OB, Circa 2006)Color: Full gold.

Nose: Funky and somewhat waxy and sweet. A different profile from the 15yo. Lighter in color and fuller in a different kind of way. It almost smells chewy! Maybe more Bourbon aged Whisky went into this 21yo. Smells funky and organic. It’s like being licked by a dog which earlier licked some spilled honey (don’t ask). I love it. Hints of wood, and especially sawdust. Chocolate and some acidic fruits. This is more a creamy and woody Glenfarclas. Dusty vanilla pudding. It’s almost like his is more fruity than it shows. It just doesn’t come out of the liquid for us to smell. Encapsulated by some ice-cream notes. Great nose, and it has not a lot of the florality the 15yo had.

Taste: This starts with cardboard we know from the 15yo, and a lovely dried apricot fruitiness as well as some Calvados. Definitely lower in ABV than the 15yo. Waxy and before the wood comes this persistent cardboard and paper note, I don’t particularly care about. The finish is accompanied by the same burnt note the 15yo has, but in a softer more gentle way. Just like the 15yo, again not overly complex. Extremely drinkable. This is a Whisky I fear will be gone soon. By the way, this one does have a bit of soap in the finish, as well as in the aftertaste, which also carries some bitterness.

Although this starts well, the finish and aftertaste let it down a bit. Again a very specific Glenfarclas, and just like the 15yo, it’s hard to imagine they still can make it like this. I really have to get me a new version of one of those “standard” Glenfarclasses, or is it Glenfarcli? If you ask me I’d probably go for the 25yo, although the 17yo is also a fan favorite. But, you also might want to consider this one, which fits the same profile and I liked it very much.

Points: 84

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Glenfarclas 15yo (46%, OB, Circa 2006)

Almost three and a half years ago I reviewed it’s older brother from the same series, the 25yo. Rummaging through samples stored (read: misplaced) all over the place, I found this 15yo, as well as the 21yo, which I will review next. These two are samples of the standard range Glenfarclas from more or less ten years ago. Today the label look different, although the dumpy bottle stayed. So without further ado, I give you Glenfarclas 15yo.

Glenfarclas 25yo (43%, OB, Circa 2006)Color: Orange gold.

Nose: Dusty and dry, hints of Wine and Sherry. Creamy with vanilla and some nice soft oak. A perfumed woody wind seems to emanate from my glass. The perfumy, jasmine tea, bit seems more powerful with air, up to the point you could almost wear it. Next a cardboardy note joins the slightly minty florality. It smells nice, not “wrong” as most soapy notes often do. Quite some depth. Notes of roasted beef, covered in black pepper as well as toasted oak. Wow, the diversity of aroma’s the Sherry has given this Whisky is amazing. I’ll call this “oriental”.

Taste: Starts with oak and wood, with a smooth and slippery mouthfeel. Some burned oak and cardboard again. Luckily the cardboardy notes don’t ruin this Whisky at all. Warming, fruity and aromatic. Not heavy, cloying of full of raisins. Nope this Sherry is more lively and fruity. This one is bottled at 46% ABV, where as the 21 and the 25yo are 43% ABV. The slightly higher strength hold it up beautifully. Beer-like finish, some burnt notes. The Sherry returns in the aftertaste, but the charcoal, burnt wood notes never leave. Not overly complex.

Well, one thing is for shure, they don’t make them like this anymore. Although this was bottled almost 10 years ago, I can’t imagine the current 15yo will taste, and smell, anything like this. But I could be wrong. I hope I’ll get the chance to try some more recent bottlings of “standard” Glenfarclas (apart from the 21yo I’ll review next).

Points: 83

Glenfarclas 29yo 1979/2008 (50.6%, OB, The Family Casks III, Plain Hogshead #2216, 171 bottles)

In 2006 Glenfarclas started with an ongoing series containing lots and lots of single cask bottlings called the Family Casks. From the beginning, almost every vintage thinkable was released in very nice looking wooden boxes including a nice booklet. After a while, some vintages were not available anymore in the warehouses, and the wooden boxes were replaced by something a lot simpler. For the time being 2014 was the last year any Family cask was released, since 2015 saw no release of a Family Cask bottling (yet). Although Glenfarclas has a name to uphold with heavily sherried malts, just like The Macallan once did, and Glendronach does today, what was nice about the Family Casks was that any type of cask was released. This 1979 expression from the third run of Family Casks is from a Plain Hogshead and was bottled on the 17th of July 2008. Plain Hogshead could mean a rebuilt cask from staves that once formed a Bourbon barrel.

Glenfarclas 29yo 1979/2008 Family Casks IIIColor: Copper

Nose: Lots of creamy vanilla and coconut, what immediately makes me think about American oak. Very creamy and firm. Extremely fruity. Apricots, pears and ripe green plums. Hints of not yet ripe banana-skin and sweet ripe apples. It does have notes of a high quality Calvados. Almonds with dry powdered coffee creamer. Amazing how strong the aroma’s are, this is in no way a closed Whisky, no, no, no! Spicy, the wood kicks in a bit. Hint of latex paint. Lurking in the depth is a strange note, which is hard to describe. Old dried out cucumber with a tiny speck of acetone. You know how a cucumber smells, tone that down a few notches, and that’s whats in here too, underneath all those heavy hitting aroma’s from the highly active cask. I wonder what Bourbon it came in contact with. Wonderful old Whisky, with a perfect and endless nose. A true gem to smell!

Taste: Again extremely creamy and full of aroma. The power. Wonderful. Perfect stuff. Quite sweet upon entry. Creamy sweet and following quickly is a much drier woody sensation with just the right amount of bitterness. More wood than the nose had, but when the wood takes a step aside, wonderful aroma’s of ginger with jam made with red and black forest fruits present themselves, but not a lot of the fruit I mentioned in the nose. Amazing! Small hints of cask toast, slightly burned bread and candied cinnamon. Cloves and Christmas cake. Of course not a perfect Whisky, that does not exist, but this does come close. Wow! Warming and luckily a super long finish.

Here we have another super fruity old Bourbon Hogshead Whisky from the seventies. Reminding us of the stellar Caperdonichs from 1972, to name but one. I can only hope I’ll find me one of these sometimes.

Points: 93

Glenfarclas 16yo 1995/2011 (53.9%, Kintra, Confidential Cask, Sherry Butt #5, 120 bottles)

In the depths of my ever-growing amount of samples, I found this sample of an undisclosed distillery named Glenfarclas. Actually, Glenfarclas isn’t stated on the label, but it has somehow become common knowledge that this Whisky was made by Glenfarclas and hand-picked by Erik Molenaar of Kintra from the Netherlands. Erik as well as Glenfarclas have been featured before on these pages, so why not continue immediately with this undisclosed Glenfarclas…

Glenfarclas 16yo 1995/2011 (53.9%, Kintra, Confidential Cask, Sherry Butt #5, 120 bottles)

Color: Copper brown.

Nose: Heavy on the Sherry there! Velvety but also a lot of sulphur. Licorice, dry air and wood. Black and white powder and cookie dough. Lots of aromas and all are on full volume. Meaty (cold raw meat), creamy, vanilla but also some mint and flint. Lot of aroma from wood, without being overpowering. Like the wood of an old door which has just been stripped of its thick layer of cracked paint (and cooled off) (no, I’m not on LSD, it’s an association).

Taste: Full on funky sherry, thick. Coal. Watered down red berry juice with (bitter and sweet) licorice (The Whisky is not watered down, mind you, nor tastes like it’s watered down). Quite sweet at first but quickly taking a turn towards the drier side. Sulphur here again, but all very tasty if you like your heavy hitters. Sometimes a whiff comes across like a rum (heavy on wood). Towards the finish some nice red fruits come to the front. Strawberries (not fresh ones, but ones that have been frozen). Spicy and prickly wood.

Definitely not your daily drinker type of malt, but a nice, albeit flawed expression of a nice Sherry bomb (hello NSA, it’s me again). I like this pick by Erik. It is a Whisky which is far from boring. A lot is happening in this, and not even all at the same time. However, a word of caution. This malt loses a bit of its balance when it gets enough time to breathe. The aromas start to unravel a bit, the wood gets weaker and even worse, a soapy component rears its ugly head, so no slacking with this one!

Points: 88

Glenfarclas 35yo 1971/2006 (51.4%, The Whisky Fair, Oloroso Sherry Butt, 534 bottles)

Well why not, why not try another Glenfarclas from a bottle without the distillery’s name on the label. This time a Glenfarclas again, but now from 1971, especially bottled for The Whisky Fair in Limburg Germany. For many the mother of all Whisky festivals on the planet. This Glenfarclas is definitely darker in colour than the previous one I reviewed. I’m guessing the 1965 should be from a Fino Sherry Butt, and we know this 1971 is from a new and fresh Oloroso Sherry Butt.

KnipselColor: Copper Brown.

Nose: Wow, perfect dry Sherry nose, with mint and a lot of elegant wood. Lacquered mahogany furniture. You always get this from old dark Sherry casks. Dried meat, bacon and chocolate, lovely. Extremely spicy, licorice and old shelved books. For the die-hards of old dry Sherry, a stunning nose. Exactly what I like. Menthol in the finish, including its cooling effect in the nose.

Taste: Again heavy Sherry. Fruity and the promise there once was more sweetness to this. Like cold tea, drying with a lot of wood influence. Still its so “firm” the woodiness doesn’t deter me. Whiskies like this should have this elegant wood. It’s a distinguished old gentleman. Coal and steam, not a lot of tar, maybe the smallest of hints of tar. The finish is dry, very dry and the wood shows it’s acidity here, but hey, it’s not bitter. Now it does show its lack of sweetness, or roundness if you like. This usually hides this woody acidity. So yes its fabulous but has it’s flaws. If this would have been perfect this would have been an 1971 Longmorn (Scott’s Selection).

Although Fino’s are quite different from Oloroso Sherries (and PX Sherries), both works very well as a cask to age Whisky in. Both have different characters and both will have a large following. In this case I wish I could have tasted this alongside a 1971 Scott’s Selection Longmorn (the dark ones), that should have been a blast. Not having that, I still wish I had a bottle of this Glenfarclas too.

Points: 92

Glenfarclas 40yo 1965/2006 “Blairfindy” (51.7%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Sherry Cask #1850, 194 bottles)

Well hello Blairfindy! Wait a minute, Blairfindy isn’t a real distillery is it? As far as I know, there isn’t a Blairfindy distillery, and there never was one too. No, Blairfindy turns out to be “another” name for Glenfarclas, used, when the bottlers weren’t allowed to use the real distillery name on their labels. Something like Tactical for Talisker, Leapfrog or Laudable for Laphroaig and so on. Blairfindy, amongst others, was the name of the farm, the Grant family (of Glenfarclas fame) originated from. Although the Glenfarclas name isn’t on the label, it most definitely is a Glenfarclas, and an old one to boot…

Color: Copper gold.

Nose: For me a typical perfumy Fino Sherry nose. Definitively a wine note up front, quickly chased by quite some wood. Toffee and caramel, with a hint of sweat (no typo). It gets more fresh after a while. Hints of car-wax and even later some black fruits. The smell of burning off dry leaves in the garden combined with a small hint of licorice. It all comes across a bit harsh, dry, dusty and powdery, but nice. I hope this doesn’t translate into the palate. Lets see…

Taste: Yes, not very sweet, but luckily not as woody and dry the nose suggested. Earwax and wood. Some drying tannins on the tongue, but hey, it was on a cask for forty years! The wood then becomes spicy. Although some people might consider this too dry, for me the wood isn’t that dominant. It is dry, but it definitely has a charm to it. Elegant stuff. No bitterness whatsoever. The finish is half long, and breaks down a bit into some sourness, toast and tar. The body is strong so it can take this sourness very well, and the light toast and tar add to the character of the Whisky.

Despite everything, this still is an easily drinkable Whisky. Great old Glenfarclas that fetch enormous amounts of money these days. Yes, the market is rapidly changing…

Points: 88

Glenfarclas 15yo 1991/2006 “Breath of Speyside” (60.2%, Adelphi, First Fill Sherry Butt #5642, 615 bottles)

Almost two weeks ago I reviewed a Adelphi Highland Park, and here is the next Adelphi bottling. This time a bastard malt. A bastard malt is a Whisky of which the distillery name can’t be found on the label. Usually some kind of fantasy name pops up like Probably Speysides Finest (Douglas Laing name for Glenfarclas), Director’s Tactical (Douglas Laing name for Talisker) or Laudable (Douglas Laing name for Laphroaig). Well this is called Breath of Speyside and in this case, that is Adelphi’s name for Glenfarclas. Glenfarclas do sell off lots of casks, but never allow the bottler to use the Glenfarclas name.

Glenfarclas 15yo 1991/2006 Breath of Speyside (60.2%, Adelphi, First Fill Sherry Butt #5642, 615 bottles)Color: Orange copper gold.

Nose: Cream and cherries. Quite fresh and fruity. Very lively, and not that deep dark in your face Sherry. Very obviously a first fill sherry. Perfumy, with a nice touch of wood, very elegant. lovely stuff and easier on the nose than A’bunadh, that can be harder or harsher (due to its youth). Toast and pepper come to mind and very spicy. Pot roast, tobacco and furniture polish. Very lovely and interesting nose. Great complexity and perfect balance, between the Whisky and the Sherry.

Taste: Creamy and woody. Nice sweetness that is delivered after the initial woodiness. It’s not overly woody though. Again roasted meat, combined with the dry woodiness and the late sweetness (caramel), makes for a very interesting play on your tongue. Excellent. Definitely elements of wine (Sherry). Also some organics I usually get from some white wines. Thick excellent stuff that works well at this high ABV. This Glenfarclas really intrigues me. Well chosen cask.

Heavily Sherried and high in alcohol, so this is Aberlour A’bunadh territory, the only difference being the age. A’bunadh is a young Whisky, probably around 8 to 10 years old, and this Glenfarclas is 15 years old. This one is milder older and wiser. It’s deeper, more complex and less rough around the edges. The only problem, you can only get this at three times the price of the Aberlour A’bunadh, just to show you how cheap the Aberlour actually is…

Points: 89