Whisky Review #15: Glenfarclas 25 Years Old

Glenfarclas is one of those distilleries that is consistent in terms of the whisky expressions that they offer. It is this consistency that plays a fundamental part in what makes them brilliant. As a family owned distillery in  a business that is dominated by sometimes faceless spirits conglomerates, it is refreshing to see that some whisky distilleries still have well established and celebrated roots in tradition.

I was introduced to Glenfarclas in late 2011 by a friend of mine who was loved the brand as well as the expressions. Having not heard much of the distillery prior to that point, I was rather intrigued about how they operated and what kind of expressions they released. I vaguely remembered seeing some of their expressions at Dan Murphys during one my frequent trips there.

As time went on, I delved into the product more. As I was a university student on a budget, it was rather difficult to splurge on whisky and so I took to visiting bars in order to sample different whiskies. Inevitably, this led me to Whisky & Alement, which had a rather sizeable collection of Glenfarclas.

I remembered trying the 12 Years Old expression and being rather impressed with it, especially since its sherried nature made it a veritable competitor to the likes of Macallan. As time went by, I was presented with chances to try specific expressions, all of which I enjoyed immensely. But in late 2014, a better chance presented itself.

I had gotten word that one of the bars in Singapore was hosting a Glenfarclas tasting session for a relatively reasonable $55 per pax. So I roped in one of my buddies to join in and we headed to the venue for the tasting, which was held on a Wednesday night.

The expressions on offer were the 8, 15, 21 Years as well as the 105 Cask Strength. At this point, I had already sampled the 12 and 18 Year Old expressions and so this was basically filling in the gaps. I remember particularly enjoying the 21 Years Old (which was generously poured by the host and we even had a 2nd glass after).

The experience with the 21 Year Old expression got me thinking: Could the older expressions possibly be better than this? I had done my research prior to the tasting and noted that bottles of the 25 Years Old expression retailed for approximately AU$200, which is a bloody steal.

Glenfarclas 25 Years Old
Glenfarclas 25 Years Old

Having also read the reviews online for the 25 Year Old expression, I noted that the term “Christmas cake” was a recurring theme, which made me even more intrigued. Now, I’m a fan of Christmas cake in general and so to be presented with a whisky that somewhat mimicked the same smell and taste of it would be brilliant in my humble opinion.

I knew immediately that it was inadvisable to purchase a dram of the 25 in Singapore as it is prohibitively expensive. So all I had to do was bide my time and wait until the opportunity presented itself for me to return to Melbourne to that I could make that well-trodden pilgrimage to Whisky & Alement to get my fix.

July came by and I found myself back in Melbourne once again. As I had done many times before, I went to the bar with a clear purpose: Find, order and savour a dram of the Glenfarclas 25 Years Old.

A dram of the Glenfarclas 25 Years Old.
A dram of the Glenfarclas 25 Years Old.

I spied a bottle on the shelf and immediately placed an order for it. It cost me a very reasonable AU$26 and arrived shortly after. I noted the relatively short legs of the whisky, which hinted at the relatively mild abv of 43%. But since this dram was a quarter century old, the legs didn’t matter as much to me as the overall sensory experience.

And with that, I plunged headfirst into it.

Glenfarclas 25 Years (43% abv)

Colour: Burnished copper.

Nose: They weren’t kidding about the Christmas cake! Rich sherried intensity but with a surprisingly restrained sweetness on the nose is the first thing you would encounter upon nosing this beauty. There is an underlying spiciness which slowly presents itself, with well rounded notes of nutmeg and allspice very much apparent.

Another wave of the sherried goodness comes forth, albeit sweeter this time as it has had time to open up. Raisins, red fruits and just a hint of smokiness present themselves before some of the oaky and musty elements of the cask take over. Mouthwateringly inviting!

Palate: Intense sherried sweetness with just a hint of spice. Still living up to the Christmas cake description! Warm spices from the nose then take over, inundating the palate and bringing out a tingly sensation. Some cinnamon then joins the fray, intensifying the spiciness. Very complex and definitely very moreish whisky with a subtle hint of smokiness. Mouthfeel is satisfyingly oily in nature.

Finish: Medium in length, with the warm spices from the nose and palate as well as the sherried goodness intermingling beautifully. The mouthfeel is oily for the most part before becoming slightly drying towards the end. A final burst of red fruits and some berry compote brings the experience to a close. Simply amazing.

Rating: 94/100

The 25 Year Old expression was definitely well worth the wait and worth every dollar of the outlay as well. It also definitively answered the question I posed earlier as to whether an older expression than the 21 Years Old could be better. Not only was it better, it overshadowed the 21 Years Old expression.

The rating above is fitting as I believe that this is one of the best whiskies I have ever had the privilege of trying. I am definitely intent on securing a bottle for my collection and this just might have jumped ahead in my priority purchase list for the year (the other bottlings being the Laphroaig 15 Years 200th Anniversary and Ardbeg Perpetuum, which will be the focus of a future review).

I would highly recommend this whisky as it is definitely worth experiencing firsthand as well as worth the outlay.

Slainte!

Brendan

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