Review by FWL contributing editor Uncle Knucklead
For true Scotch whisky lovers, the Glenfarclas is a gold standard, little known because of its rarity as being one of the few distilleries that’s privately owned by a Scottish family, the Grants, for six generations.
The distinction of this rich and mouth filling dram is its adherence to traditional maturation for the Speyside area: 100% ex-Oloroso sherry barrels. They are only one of a small handful of distilleries that haven’t given over to the less expensive but more ubiquitous ex-bourbon barrels that make up almost 95% of all aging Scotch whisky stocks.
And as a result, the delivery of its promise starts in the nose, light but distinctively sherried, a touch of grassiness, with malty stone fruits of plum and dates. At 12 years in the mild Scottish climate, this whisky becomes the greatest sum of its parts starting with clear, granite-sprung water from the Ben Rinnes moutaintops. Then, another throwback: direct-fired stills, where the heat of the flame licks at the copper bottoms of the pot stills setting the wash to boil, creating what the Grant family know is a risky yet unimpeachable hereditary line to their founding in 1865.
The palate gives up the fullness of the hand-picked casks from Jerez, Spain: big integrated flavors of figs, warm bread, a slight touch of earthy peat; and a finish that’s a long drip of honeyed wood, dates again and that distinctive dark berry fruitiness of sherry.
It’s gentlemanly without being elitist...