A review of the Glenfarclas 105 single malt official release.
There are certain distilleries which rarely misstep. Such is their reputation that any review is already a foregone conclusion. No I'm not talking about Jura! I'm instead talking about the venerable Glenfarclas, the Spartacus of sherried single malts. Fiercely independent and still run by the J & G Grant family since 1865, Glenfarclas has been producing fully sherry matured (as opposed to finished) single malts since inception. They are also probably the most traditional of them all and continue to use direct gas fired stills to this day. And they do this with utter conviction as far as it's contribution to the flavour is concerned and not because of some romantic display of old times for visiting tourists. Independent bottlings of Glenfarclas are not as prolific as other distilleries.
The 105 (60% abv = 105 proof hence the name) single malt, Glenfarclas claim, was the first distillery to release a cask strength single malt in 1968. They were also the first to start a visitor centre in 1973. Speaking of which I somehow always seem to find an India connection. The wood used in the panelling of the opulent "Ship's Room" a tasting room in the visitor centre was originally a part of the first class smoking lounge of RMS Empress of Australia which apparently ferried the last of the British troops from the Gateway Of India, Bombay and marked the end of over two centuries of colonial rule over India. On to the review.
Sample kindly provided by Hormuz Aderianwalla
Wood- Sherry Cask
Non-chill filtered |Natural colour
Colour: Dark honey
Nose: A big whack of prickly alcohol fumes. After that settles it takes me to my book shelf which has a lot of old hardcovers. Resinous, a bit solventy, shoe polish and old furniture. With some time, Bouquet garni (minus the parsley), prune syrup. Struck matches, dark chocolate and tobacco follow.
Palate: Ferocious arrival but not rough. Follows the nose in sync. The warmth! Red chillies and spices develop on the tip of my tongue and transition to warm honey and white pepper at the back of my throat. This is a young distillate for sure but yet it has good mouthfeel. With water (and it can take lots of it!) much much better. Softer, rounder and slightly waxy even. A lot sweeter and malty now with orange oils, dark chocolate and treacle. Because it is bottled at a massive 60% you can actually play around with the addition of water and see how it transforms it's delivery. I almost doubled the volume in the glass and yet it didn't lose its punch.
After 20 mins tastes almost like mulled wine. Cloves, cinnamon, rosemary, liquorice and prunes. A whiff of sulphur and wood char. Classic Glenfarclas. Lovely stuff.
Finish: Armagnac like paired with dark chocolate.
Impressions: This is like the classic Glenfarclas 15 yr on steroids and I mean that in a good way. Yes it is young and ferocious but clean and full of flavour. At £49 it is a fantastic introduction to a cask strength, full sherry matured single malt. Mind you this is a NAS. And we all know the bashing this category receives, some of which is not entirely misplaced. But I also know that many age stated malts are as guilty if not more and deserve to be questioned. Like I had said in the intro that some distilleries rarely misstep and Glenfarclas is a shining example of this. I mean how many distilleries you know have switched from indirect steam heating to direct firing because they thought with indirect heating the spirit lost its soul! No amount of marketing can substitute intrinsic quality. It is the conviction in their core values and independence that has hugely paid off for Glenfarclas. And with the absence of a big corporate leash wrung tightly around it's neck they can let the spirit do all the talking.