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Holiday Dessert

Glenfarclas 21 Year Old

We wanted to continue our holiday focus this week with another whisky with flavors that are fit for the season. For us that has led to single malts aged for a while, usually in sherry or other Spanish wine casks. Whiskies of this type often carry with them flavors of baking spices, candied fruits, and, important with our early onset of winter, have a warming effect. Fortunately, there are plenty of single malts that fit this description, so for the first two weeks this month we have opted to choose bottles that are relatively new to us.

Ironically. we first encountered Glenfarclas in the Drinks by the Dram whisky advent calendar we enjoyed last year. (Side note, we are currently working our way through another one this year, and you can expect to read about some of the more interesting drams we had sometime early next year). The taste of Glenfarclas gave us the impression that this whisky would be well suited to enjoy during our brutal local winters. We decided to do a little more research.

Glenfarclas is somewhat unique among Speyside distilleries. The facility was founded around the turn of the nineteenth century and purchased by the Grant family sometime later. Incredibly, the distillery is still managed by the family. The Glenfarclas range includes several different age varieties along with a cask strength bottling and several ‘family cask’ special bottlings. The majority of the expressions are aged in a combination of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon oak.

Glenfarclas 21 Year Old

We had trouble choosing which expression to try. The sample we received in our advent calendar last year was a 23 year old, a variety we couldn’t find here. We wanted an expression that was fully matured in sherry oak, and so we decided to focus on the 17 year and older varieties. We turned to Instagram for help, and the recommendations we received led us to choose the 21 year old.

On the Eyes: The 21 year old is pure amber, like real maple syrup and pours very thick in the glass.

On the Nose: At first, we picked up the aromas of fresh banana bread, and after a few minutes of opening up we detected caramelized nuts—pecans and walnuts. This was followed with the scents of a parade of stewed fruits, including cherries, peaches, and strawberries. Essentially the nose resembled a mix of pie fillings.

To the Taste: Very light and delicate at first, but the oak influence makes itself known quickly and prominently. The bulk of the palate was a balance between a fruit cobbler, extra dark chocolate, and some heavy oak furniture.

And the Finish: As the oakiness fades, the fruit flavors remain.

The Glenfarclas 21 year old completely fulfilled our expectations and was a great holiday dram. Rich, sweet and oak heavy, this whisky is an outstanding choice for cold winter nights. While we were tempted to go with the cask strength Glenfarclas 105, there was an allure to choosing a well aged whisky in this context, and at 43% the 21 year old was just strong enough to bring the complexity that gave the dram a wealth of flavor and aromas. We believe Glenfarclas is an underrated Speyside distillery that is worth a try.



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