Rich and sherried 15yo malt from one of the best distilleries in Speyside. Aged for a little bit longer and bottled a little stronger for a more concentrated, richer flavour. As always, Glenfarclas remains one of the best-value malts on the market – a must for lovers of sherried whisky.
I’ve not reviewed a Glenfarclas before and it’s a little strange that it has never come up. So, let’s go back a little bit, to 2003 when I took a trip to Scotland and visited a bunch of distilleries, including Glencadam, Aberlour and Glenfarclas. At that time, they didn’t seem to splash around too much cash on advertising and were still pretty, pretty big on the grounds that they produced extraordinarily great whisky, drank it themselves, and that’s that. That’s also why so many bottles of the older expressions, including the 15 which we’re trying out today, are widely available. They used to cost a little more, but now I wonder if they are overpriced.
Fortunately for me, I’m in America, so I don’t have to pay money for it, and everyone else works on a different currency. However, I still have to recommend this one very highly. If you’re rich, you shouldn’t mind. Cost for a 750ml bottle is around $50 (and it’s worth it, even at $70).
I take the cap off the bottle and I can see that it’s got a strong DARK color to it. On the nose you can immediately smell that characteristic sherry up front and you can smell that classic Glenfarclas peaty-ness. It’s very evocative. I don’t know how to describe it but it’s real whisky, it’s what whisky is supposed to smell like.
If I drink it with a little bit of water or with ice, it’s predictably sweeter than it is with nothing at all. The wood is very present, of course, and I can smell the sherried, raisiny, maltiness. I don’t know if it’s just my imagination but whenever I drink Glenfarclas I think that I can smell a baked, yeasty, almost sour dough smell (no, not sourdough! Don’t get that confused). And yes, to answer your question – that’s what I’m going to call it from now on.
I don’t know if I’m just imagining or exaggerating because it is a 15 year old single malt and it’s pretty special – you know exactly what you’re getting into – but I don’t know, it almost smells like… a cardamom smell. Almost like it has a little bit of Indian food in it, like eggplants and saffron or something. I don’t know; I’m reminded of my trip to India when I was a little boy. It’s not like that taste now, but that’s what jumped in (in a good way!)
I have to say the 15 year old Glenfarclas is very long and oaky, but a little more satisfying. The finish is the only place where the second dimension (in this case, the sherry) comes in to play and it’s just lovely.
First time in a while that I am pleasantly surprised by a whisky, even if it’s in the roughly $50 range. This is an excellent example of a sherry-aged Speyside malt that will serve as a solid example of what to look for when buying a sherry malt.
This whisky has all of the goodness of a Glenlivet or a Glenfiddich, and it’s a great bang for the buck if you like Speyside malts. Even if it is a little high, it’s worth the price – especially if you can get it for under $50.
It’s softer than the 10 year old, and it’s a little more rounded. The maple syrup smell is a little more pronounced in the nose and the scotch wouldn’t be much better without it. In the case of Glenfarclas 15 year old, it’s a little less round than many other sherry malts, but it makes up for it with a more intense sherry presence.
Glenfarclas 15 year old is single malt at its best – and there’s really no other way to explain it. It’s got that classic Glenfarclas taste – both the sweetness and the smokiness. I can say unequivocally that this is a classic sherry-aged Speyside and I’ve said that before. This is the kind of whisky that makes whisky so good and so interesting. There are not a lot of malts – or whiskys – that can be this balanced and easy to drink.
I’m going to give it a 9.5/10 on the Whisky Bible scale – a little high, but again, I don’t know what the price is when I recommend things, I know, but you’ll have to hunt around for good deals. I think this whisky has a lot of things going for it, and nothing going against it – one of those rare malts that is both balanced and easy, and that absolutely calls your name.