Glenfarclas: 25 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 25 years: 43% ABV)
Visual: Toffee to gold.
Viscosity: Fast medium sized streaks.
Nose: Pencil shavings. Honey. Heather. Palma violets. Water adds crushed ginger biscuits.
Body: Oaken. Honey. Tingling alcohol. Malt chocolate. Dry. White grapes. Water makes grapes and honey more evident. Light spiced grapes and toffee comes out.
Finish: Lightly nutty – peanuts. Ovaltine and light malt chocolate. Very light spiced red grapes. Raisins and Madeira. Seven spice. Crushed ginger biscuits.
Conclusion: This is very different to what I expected compared to a similarly aged 21 year old version. Normally I find Glenfarclas very much on the sweet end of the whisky spectrum. Initial impressions for this was of a drier, nuttier and more oaken spirit that put me in mind of some Strathisla expressions. Even odder at this age is that the alcohol is still somewhat tingling when taken neat.
Due to the smaller available measure I was careful with adding water, but I was very glad that I did so. It was not a bad whisky neat, but water brings out much more of the recognisable and loved Glenfarclas elements, just delivered in a more careful and subtle way.
Here it feels like soft toffee sweetness influences the base whisky, but subtle spiced grapes and raisins rise up from out of it. Still quite dry, and subtly delivered, but despite that there is a generous level of available spice notes at the end which has not been so present in previous Glenfarclas I’ve encountered. That spice is what becomes most telling, ginger notes and seven spice mix becoming the forefront over the sweetness.
For sheer love of the force and water play available to it I am going to have to be an age philistine and go for the cask strength 105 over this, in fact I would probably even prefer the slightly more evident 21 year. Maybe I just go for that bit more energy a younger whisky gives (21 years, younger, heh). Anyway, as a stand alone whisky this has remarkable complexity – mixing sweet and spicy expression. You really have to take your time with it and let it come to you, but it you take your time it gives a gentle and rich drink in return. So, neat it was slightly disappointing, but with water it rewards you by the end.
Background: Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks! Glenfarclas 105 is one of my favourite whiskies and the 21 year is highly respected so I was very much looking forwards to this. Drunk while working my way through a box set of New Model Army’s first 5 albums. Can’t believe it was less than 15 quid – awesome old school punk.