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Glenfarclas '105'

15 with an "Oh"?

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@vanPeltReview by @vanPelt

5th Jul 2014


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

For the 105th or so review, there was really only one option…. I've reviewed a range of Glenfarclases (10/15/21/25/30/40), but none with such high ABV; this feature is often seen as making the 105 a contender to Aberlour's A'bunadh (of which I've tasted 4 batches and reviewed 2). Let's see. I am reviewing it H2H, against its older 20yo version. My first notes are for full strength (mind you, sipped appropriately at 2 drops at a time!)

First vapor: Stale cardboard, maybe some caramel. But don't be fooled; it gets better.

Nose: Big toffee caramel, or rich butterscotch, in milk chocolate and clove. Maybe slight grass after a while. Seems richer and smoother-- than the 20yo, but also mellower.

Palate: Toffee with sour cherry, getting massive, thick, and oily. Tartness comes down from the peak ,and then it becomes a touch flatter, with a zesty kick of ginger building. I notice a bit of "young tannins", that kind of grassy burn I've found in poire williams. But there is almost no burn here, which is impressive.

Finish: Drier oaky caramel, with remnant (lighter) ginger pear.

Scores 84-ish, neat; good but losing points for grass and sourness.

With water:

Nose: Thinner caramel and milk chocolate, with just a dusting of cinnamon clove. A tiny bit of grassy youth if I'm being critical (and overbreathe).

Palate: Very little difference from full strength except better— so the malt takes water well. Still full caramel & sour cherry character, except now it's improved with more cinnamon-cocoa-clove and good honey, AND less ginger sting. This will bump my score up, by 3-ish points.

Finish: Now less dry & less hot, which is good. Some clove spice in the mouth; caramel and brazil nuts, and cinnamon bark on exhale.

With a little water, for me this is roughly similar in style to the 15yo. In comparison, the 105 gives fruitier sour-cherry but lacks those notes of walnut/orange/butter. I miss these, so as an infrequent drinker I will probably stay with the 15. But if you consume more than me, the 105 is really a great value, because the quality is still pretty good. For the same liter price, you get about 1/3 higher ABV (which effectively makes it 25% cheaper), and you get more opportunity to tune it to your liking. Compared to the A'bunadh, this is less nutty(-caramel) and more cherry(-clove). For my tastes, the A'bunadh squeaks by for this reason.... But they are similar in value— depending on batch of course. (You can get a liter of the 105 for around 45 Euros.)

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Taco commented

I really like this better than Abunadh, especially with the addition of water. In fact, I add a lot of water, a little at a time, as the palate changes with water and time. This makes it an interesting whisky to drink if you are willing to take the time to do this, as it takes about an hour or more for me to finish a dram. I prefer it in the colder months, though as its too strongly sherried to deal with in warmer times.

6 years ago 0

vanPelt commented

Thanks @Taco, yes clearly this would just depends on personal preferences-- but it also depends on batch! (Which A'bunadh you are comparing to...) I think the preference is marginal for me. Thanks for the suggestion, I am also a slow drinkiner and I do agree that taking the time with water enriches the experience, but I have not considered this a winter dram. I think I'd pull it out around the equinoxes. I'll have to wait and see in several months...

6 years ago 0

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