By Kurt Maitland
Glenfarclas is a Speyside whisky distillery located in Ballindalloch, Scotland, owned and run by the Grant family (not the same Grant family that owns fellow Speysiders, Balvenie and Glenfiddich). I tell you from personal experience that it is a jewel of a distillery and an exemplar independent operation. Glenfarclas malts are well-made (the winner of many awards), well-priced (their 25 Year Old release can still be had for less than $200 dollars, something that can’t be said about many other releases of a similar vintage) and well run. Because of careful, conservative management and family ownership, you don’t hear much about Glenfarclas “running out of juice”.
In some respects, it’s “almost” the Scotch world’s best-kept little secret. Hopefully, as that status changes, this distillery continues to maintain its run of excellence.
At present, the distillery has a production capacity of over three million liters of new make per annum, with almost 70,000 casks maturing on site. They are aged in traditional dunnage warehouses, and Glenfarclas holds stock from the 1950s to the present. As implied before, Glenfarclas has done a great job of maintaining their stock.
The Glenfarclas style can be best described as “sherry bomb,” and there is no getting around that. Each and every release will wallop you with sherry, and one of the biggest punchers is the 60% ABV Glenfarclas 105
Color: Burnt Umber
Nose: Dried tone fruits, such as peaches and plums, with dark cocoa and cream
Palate: The mouthfeel is semi-slick/slightly oily, and the taste is a Sherry bomb…. on steroids. It’s one of the highest proofed single malt scotches in standard release, and as a guy who likes high proof whiskies this is one of the best. Sweet, powerful, but also somehow more subtle than my guilty pleasure, Bowmore’s Devil’s Cask III.
Don’t get me wrong, this release packs plenty of power, it’s just that there is a refinement to it too. Everything is in its right place: the bite of the high proof, quickly followed by sweet, heavy sherry, and cocoa and hits of mint that tails off into hints of rubber and sulfur as you head to the finish.
Finish: The hint of rubber and sulfur trails into a long cinnamon/cocoa/clove closing note
Adding water raises the sweetness, but shortened all of the other flavors and throws off the balance enough that you notice the loss.
I love this release. It’s a bruiser with a soft side. You just have to look past the menace of that high proof and appreciate the other features of this release. That said, I wouldn’t make this your first Glenfarclas. You might want to start with something like the 12 or 15 as they might make a better entry point this distillery. For the bourbon fan that is looking for a scotch they can hang their hat on, this might be the scotch for you.
This release ranges from $70 to $80 plus US. You definitely get bang for the buck in this release due to its high proof.