2015 is a special year at Glenfarclas. 150 years ago, in 1865, father and son, John and George Grant, bought the distillery, so in a way, this is the really important anniversary, as for the past century and a half, the distillery has been independent (well, almost….there was the Pattison partnership in 1895 and the tsunami of the Pattison affair 1898, but Glenfarclas pulled through).
I have reviewed several Glenfarclas expressions, from the rare 1966 Fino Sherry Cask and 1969 Family Cask to the Core expression 21 year old, but I never reviewed the entry level 12. Now, Glenfarclas does have younger aged expressions – namely an 8 year old and a 10 year old (the 10 is officially part of the core expressions) – but I chose the 12 as it’s a very good primer for the distillery style, and a very interesting dram, especially if you like spicy drams.
The Glenfarclas stills are direct fired, so they still have rummagers (revolving chains) inside the stills to keep residue off the bottom of the stills, and generally do things very traditionally, and on principle price the whisky into the drinking range. This is not to say that prices have not inched up over the past few years, but the core range, all the way up to the 40 year old, is packaged in plain carton tubes, to keep things affordable and are consistently priced a notch down from other similarly aged whiskys. To me, Glenfarclas’ fierce independence, commitment to quality and innovative traditionalism is truly a winning combination, I wish there was much more of in the industry.
The 12 year old is 2/3 sherry matured whisky and 1/3 ex bourbon casks, so we’d expect a rather spicy whisky with a lighter sherry style.
Glenfarclas 12 (43% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Gold, slow and thin legs, really taking their time.
Nose: Sherry and malt, with notes of dried apricot, dried pineapple, candied nuts off a cart in NYC, cinnamon, nutmeg and light notes of clove. After time, some milk chocolate appears.
Palate: spice down the tongue, with dryness rushing in right after. This isn’t a sweet dram, and goes more towards the spicy on the palate, yet unmistakably with a sherry signature. It also has some bitter citrus notes.
Linger: Long and warming, tangy on the inside of the cheeks, with sweetness hinted on the tongue and perfumed spice high in the back of the throat.
Excellent whisky, priced at around the £35-38 mark, so it’s in the middle of the pack of the 12 year olds. On the other hand, it really is high quality and an excellent every day tipple to enjoy, right up there with the Bunnahabhain 12 at the top spots of the age.