Glenfarclas Minis – Glenfarclas 25 year 43%

What a unique opportunity to contrast and compare different expressions from the same distillery side-by-side, taking our time to let 1st impressions settle in, more time to sip and consider, then revisit each to consider their commonalities and differences.

Last in our Glenfarclas minis session was the 25 year.

Glenfarclas 25 year 43%

  • Nose
    • Initial wood, varnish with an almost medicinal quality, organic sweet, green chillies that then sharpened – crisp & clean.
    • As it opened more, it took on a hint of vanilla and talcum powder, tart green granny smith applies, then a hint of calvados or apple brandy.
    • After our 1st sip, we found strawberry cheesecake and biscuits, so sweet, some herbal elements like basil or bay leaf, then an unmistakable tart rhubarb pie… only slightly jarring element was a hint of sulfur
    • After setting aside, with the revisit we found a light acrid smoke, like burning sweet grass, cereals, dry and a bit dusty, yet still retaining that green grass quality
  • Palate
    • The initial sip was light old leather with a chocolate chaser
    • Each sip mellowed more – mocha chocolate, so smooth, getting sweeter and sweeter
    • After setting aside, we found the palate had softened further… like being wrapped in a warm blanket
  • Finish
    • More of that chocolate – like chocolate covered espresso beans with sweet, dark chocolate with a bitter twist too…. all muted, with a light restrained spice

While our initial impressions was of a most interesting and enjoyable dram, it really did need time to open up to reveal its full character. We dubbed it the “2nd date whisky” as you needed to take time to get to know it more to really appreciate what you have.

Here’s what the folks over at Glenfarclas have to say:

  • Colour – Amber with dark gold highlights
  • Nose – Complex, yet refined, with tempting aromas of marmalade, honey, freshly ground coffee, sherry and nuts, some oaky tannins
  • Flavour – Full-bodied and robust, the sherry and the oak fight for your attention yet neither overpowering
  • Finish – Intense, long lasting, dry and malty. A beautiful dark chocolate taste at the back of your mouth to complete the 25 year old.

We sampled this whisky in Oct 2017 from a closed bottle purchased from The Whisky Exchange in London as part of a gift pack for approx $50.

What else did we sample in our Glenfarclas minis session?

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Glenfarclas Minis – Glenfarclas 21 year 43%

Next in our Glenfarclas minis session was the 21 year old… We first sampled it as part of a Glenfarclas evening in 2011…. and clearly a revisit was overdue!

Glenfarclas 21 year 43%

  • Nose
    • The initial whiff was varnish… then sour mash, green grapes, vanilla, more subtle warm vapour, light tea.
    • After the 1st sip, strong green tea, organic sweet, some sawdust, wood at the back…. cork even
    • As it continued to open, it revealed light leather, sea breeze
  • Palate – Tea, leather, warm, bitter, very rounded, salty dry with a maritime twist
  • Finish – Nice long leather, slow burn feel, slightly bitter

With the aromas, over time it began to unfurl from a tight nose to reveal multiple dimensions.

We set it aside and revisited after trying all the Glenfarclas miniatures… what then?

  • Nose – Fruits like guava and white fruits like pear, jicama then a sweet perfume shifting into a salty brine
  • Palate – Soft and then sour then bitter, then sweet… overall just an enjoyable soft sweetness
  • Finish – Much more bitter than the original tasting and very dry

Overall we found it very approachable, quite enjoyable. Still had that quite straight forward dimension like the other Glenfarclas, yet with so many more elements.

So what do the folks at Glenfarclas have to say:

  • Colour – Dark amber-gold.
  • Nose – Intense, full of aromas – sherried fruit, tropical fruit, nutmeg and almonds with slight citrus notes at the end.
  • Flavour – Full bodied rich and rounded, develops slowly into fruity and spicy flavours.
  • Finish – Long-lasting and smooth with a chocolate feel at the back of your throat.

We sampled this whisky in Oct 2017 from a closed bottle purchased from The Whisky Exchange in London as part of a gift pack for approx $50.

What all did we sample in our Glenfarclas minis session?

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Glenfarclas Minis – Glenfarclas 105 60%

Next in our Glenfarclas minis evening was the cask strength Glenfarclas 105. First sampled as part of a Glenfarclas evening in 2011, a bottle of Glenfarclas 105 hung out in my whisky cabinet for a few years to be trotted out when only a bold no-nonsense dram would do.

Glenfarclas 105 60%

  • Nose
    • Initial impression is of sweet varnish, sherry stamp, stewed figs, dates and all the dried fruits, like a thick fig jam with seeds, some nutmeg and cinnamon, fermented, sour cherries, walnuts
    • Then showed off aam papad,  dried apricot, black cherry
  • Palate
    • Robust, bursting with flavours, spice, red chillies, cinnamon, fresh ground pepper then sweet
  • Finish – Black peppercorn, sweet and spice
  • Water – Wonderful Christmas Cake qualities, sherry notes

While wonderful on its own, with water it really comes into its own. Where one should wait to let the water and whisky combine to be rewarded with wonderful flavour.

After we set it aside and returned we found:

  • Nose – Sweet tobacco, prunes, cream, dry wood and stewed fruits with custard
  • Palate – Lovely sherry, quite dry, full of Christmasy flavours
  • Finish – Retained the lovely pepper sweetness

Overall we enjoyed its robust, straight forward sherry bomb qualities.

What do the folks over at Glenfarclas have to say?

  • Colour – Deep peaty-gold
  • Nose – Complex, oaky, apples & pears and a tempting dark toffee sweetness
  • Flavour – Dry and assertive, develops quickly to reveal a rich spiciness, combined with a hint of oak and sherried fruit.
  • Finish – Amazingly smooth for the strength, wonderful warming with a lingering spiciness, yet very rounded.

We sampled this whisky in Oct 2017 from a closed miniature purchased from The Whisky Exchange in London for approx $11.

What else did we sample in our Glenfarclas minis session?

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Glenfarclas Minis – Glenfarclas 15 year 46%

What fun – a quartet of Glenfarclas minis to discover! For us… the logical place to begin was Glenfarclas 15 years…

Glenfarclas 15 year 46%

  • Nose – Fresh waff of polish, lemon, wood, astringent like antiseptic whips, a bit raw, citrus malty sweet, very clean
  • Palate – Soft then malty, wildfire at the back and bitter
  • Finish – Quite dry and stays

After we sampled the full set of Glenfarclas minis – the 105, 21 year and 25 year – we revisited the 15 year. What did we find?

  • Nose – Sour ‘baby puke’, herbal, some subtle lemon
  • Palate – SPICE! Top and back… then coated with sweetness
  • Finish – Remains dry

Nice and straightforward. No surprises and no pretence. What you see is what you get. And there is nothing wrong with that.

And what did the folks over at Glenfarclas have to say?

  • Colour – A rich golden amber.
  • Nose – Complex, sherried, light butterscotch aromas, with a hint of dried fruit.
  • Flavour – Full bodied with a superb balance of sherried sweetness and malty tones. 
  • Finish – Long lasting, gloriously sherried, sweet and distinguished.

We sampled this whisky in Oct 2017 from a closed bottle purchased from The Whisky Exchange in London as part of a gift pack for approx $50.

What all did we sample in our Glenfarclas minis session?

  • 105 60%
  • 21 year 43%
  • 25 year 43%

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Glenfarclas 15 year, 105, 21 and 25 year

In 2011, a member of the Glenfarclas family – George S Grant – came to Mumbai to meet with whisky aficionados. Quite a few of us had the privilege of joining an evening at the Four Seasons where we sampled the 12 year, 105, 21 year and the remarkable 40 year!

Fast forward to 2017, fuelled by miniatures shopping at The Whisky Exchange in London, we decided to revisit the Glenfarclas range… this time with the:

Just click on the links above to read what we thought…

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Whisky Ladies Conquer a Cask Strength Diwali!!

We are no shy retiring missish lasses… no siree! Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies aren’t afraid to take on a trio of cask strength malts against the backdrop of India’s Festival of Lights – Diwali! After all, if firecrackers are bursting around us, why not have a few sherry bombs and whisky booms delighting our senses?

Last night we explored:

20151112_105,Chichibu2009,A'bunadh

And here is what we found…

Glenfarclas 105 NAS 60%

  • Colour – Burnished copper
  • Nose – Smells like Christmas! Very sherry-y, caramel, then vanilla notes as it opens up
  • Taste – Sweet, dark and smokey, honeyed prunes, raisins, nutty and chocolatey
  • Finish – Smooth yet also quite dry – especially with a few drops of pani (water)
  • Pairing – We just happened to have a few truffles on hand… so naturally started testing out pairings and pronounced it successful though “The kick comes back after a hit of chocolate truffles!”

Comments…

  • “It’s just like bad life choices… with caramel”
  • “Like cafe patron!”
  • “No sweet tooth here, just alcohol tooth!”
  • “Now it is simply a sherry wine bomb!”

This Speyside dram got things off to a rollicking start! Some missed the step of… “Perhaps you may wish to spit your 1st sip as going from 0% to 60% in the first swig can be a bit jarring. However our ladies were undaunted and found it became increasingly dangerous as this dram does go down rather well, easy to just keep sipping and sipping and sipping…

Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu 2009 French White Oak Cask #2357 63.1%

  • Colour – Golden straw
  • Nose – A little spicy, very sweet, light floral notes and yet can pack a punch or hit you between the eyes too!
  • Taste – Cayenne pepper, very summer-y and light, flirty, smooth yet confusing, bright and bubbly
  • Finish – Deceptive… there but much more subtle than the aroma and palate would indicate
  • Water – A couple drops of water rounds it out
  • Pairing – For some, the Chichibu and strawberries was a killer combination – who needs champagne if you have an effervescent whisky? For others, it was the brie cheese that did it. And the balance? Well… let’s just say there are a few of the opinion that chocolate goes with practically everything, doesn’t it?

Comments…

  • “From the wrong angle, just a sniff will get you!”
  • “While light and flirty, if you look at it the wrong way, it will kick you in the ass!”

This young Japanese single cask has many unique qualities and distinctly different from the straightforward Glenfarclas. It has a bright light element that completely belies its strength. Again – a dangerous combination!

Abelour A’bunadh Batch No 35 60.3%

  • Colour – A deep dark burgundy with ruby highlights
  • Nose – Cinnamon and cloves, gingerbread, honey, pronounced prunes, black cherries, Christmas cake, classic sherry-bomb
  • Taste – Apple cider, caramel, warm and smooth, very ‘Christmassy’, rum-soaked raisins, robust and bursting with character
  • Finish – Think curling up by a cosy warm fireplace…
  • Water – This one works straight yet also does a happy dance with drops or a dollop!
  • Pairing – Best with a sharp old cheddar, needs something that can hold its own with such brilliant flavours.

Comments…

  • “Beautiful things are happening in my nose! And its not what you are thinking!”
  • “This is one you notice every sip… and yes! It is probably getting you drunk…”

When the A’bunadh came out, there was literally a squeal of delight from one lady – as she would be re-uniting her taste buds with an old favourite. Talk turned to the slight shifts in flavour profiles between batches, fruitless efforts to track down certain batches from the 20s! Disbelief they are now into the 50s and a recommendation to simply ‘grab it’ if you see it!

What makes this Speyside stand out is its unabashed sherry quality. Rather than simply acquiring a sherry ‘finish,’ A’bunadh matures exclusively in Spanish Oloroso sherry butts, gaining a rich, robust and surprisingly well rounded profile.

Even better was the realisation that the price point for both Speysides remains reasonable (i.e. below $70) though the Japanese is near impossible to find at any price!

Our whisky ladies relished this cask strength trio – without a doubt a Diwali night to remember!

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Glenfarclas Mumbai special!

From time to time we merry whisky adventurer’s from Mumbai have special visitors. This session from our ‘archives’ was hosted at the Four Seasons with George S Grant of Glenfarclas family in 2011.

For those unfamiliar with this family owned distillery, the following story is a good place begin:

“My great-great grandfather, John Grant, born in 1805, purchased Glenfarclas Distillery for £511.19s on the 8th of June 1865. To this day, Glenfarclas Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky is distilled and matured at our family owned and run distillery, which thanks to the foresight of my forefathers remains independent. Creating a great malt whisky is a time-honoured process. Here in the heart of Speyside, my family has cherished the skills and traditions of fine malt whisky making, handing them down through six generations. We are proud to share our secrets with you”.  John L. S. Grant

We were fortunate to enjoy family tales, insights into whisky making and most importantly… tasting!

Our palates were teased by:

Glenfarclas 12 year 43%

A wonderfully well-rounded whisky and one well worth revisiting (plus without a scary price point!). Light gold colour, equally light nose and even palate. Slightly sweet and fruity with a soft finish. Pronounced a “fine daily sipping dram.”

Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength 60%

Clearly a Grant family favourite. George regaled us with the tale of how this was his grandfather’s whisky of choice. With great affection, spoke of how he used to deliver a few bottles each Monday to his grandfather to imbibe and share… only to discover years later his father also did the same – just on Thursday! Wily coot or not, his grandfather certainly enjoyed his drams.

Straight forward and without pretence, this is a solid, full flavoured woody whisky has just the right fruit and peatiness for balance. Remarkably smooth with a strong finish. Like many cask strength whiskys, it opened up superbly with a dash of water.

Glenfarclas 21 year 43%

At first, it was… not as strong an offering as anticipated. However once we truly cleared our palates of its powerful cask strength cousin, the 21 year came into its own. One member tasted a touch of kokum, another spoke of almonds with a hint of nimbu  (lime) tartness. The smokiness and spice were welcome.

Glenfarclas 40 year 46%

One has to wonder why the best is always left to last? While we appreciate the practice of a ‘show stopper’ in fashion shows, after a few drams, it is a wee bit challenging to truly appreciate something quite so fine as the 40 year. It was indeed special with a dark gold colour, nose of nuts and raisins, rich chocolaty caramel flavour and the most divine finish that lingers and leaves one wanting more!

Though our private club is fiercely independent and remains staunchly unaffiliated with any particular brand, it was a delightful evening and a distinct pleasure to imbibe in such convivial a setting.

Anyone have a Glenfarclas favourite?

Sampling Glenfarclas in Hong Kong

Sampling Glenfarclas in Hong Kong

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Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength NAS 60%

Let there be no mistake – cask strength whiskies can pack a wallop! And this one is no exception.

Originally sampled as part of a Glenfarclas evening held in November 2011, I later purchased a bottle which made its rounds in various social evenings.

Clearly a Grant family favourite, George Grant (Glenfarclas Brand Ambassador & 6th generation Grant) regaled us with the tale of how it was his grandfather’s whisky of choice. With great affection, he spoke of delivering each Monday a few bottles as a weekly ‘quota’ to his grandfather to imbibe and share… only to discover years later his father did the same – just on Thursday! Wily coot or not, his grandfather certainly enjoyed his whisky with his mates – apparently without any namby pamby watering down.

Glenfarclas 105 (Whisky Lady)

Glenfarclas 105 (Whisky Lady)

Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength NAS 60%

  • Colour – Dark amber
  • Nose – Remember that wallop? You get it right in the nose… then dry sherry notes, apples, raisins, honey, fruitcake. As it airs further, medicinal elements become increasingly pronounced.
  • Palate – Without pretence, this is a solid, strong, full flavoured woody whisky balancing fruit and peat. A bit of burnt toast. Medicinal – think cherry cough syrup!
  • Finish – Forceful. Again that medicinal quality with an unmistakable element of sulphur.
  • Add water – Like many cask strength whiskies, it opens up with water. Just a drop or two can add a harsh zing to this aggressive whisky. It opens up better with a small ‘dollop’ or ‘dash’ than ‘drop’.
  • Overall – The quintessential sherry bomb with attitude.
Glenfarclas 105 up close (Whisky Lady)

Glenfarclas 105 close-up (Whisky Lady)

Here is the thing though… if I compare the various cask strength whiskies in my cabinet currently, the Glenfarclas 105 is clearly the most straight-forward no-nonsense Speyside dram of the lot.

It is one you won’t worry about leaving in the back of your whisky cabinet. When you pull it out again, you may find it has mellowed a tad from when 1st opened – which isn’t a bad thing!

It is reasonably priced and so far – what you see is what you get without surprises.

Me…? I rather appreciate a good surprise or two and a little nuance peaking out beyond the boldness… even in my cask strength whiskies.

If you will forgive the gender bias, I’m tempted characterise Glenfarclas 105 as a “drinking man’s” whisky – the kind to knock back a few pegs with mates on a chilly eve, the kind when in the mood for a straight-up in-your-face whisky without fuss, the kind to toast tall tales and come back for more.

I have a funny feeling this is exactly how George’s grandfather enjoyed his 105!

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