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Glenfarclas 12 Year Old

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@OdysseusUnboundReview by @OdysseusUnbound

12th Oct 2017

0

  • Nose
    10
  • Taste
    5
  • Finish
    5
  • Balance
    5
  • Overall
    25

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Full disclosure, I only had 3 drams of this before returning it to the LCBO

Glenfarclas was one of those whiskies on my “must try” list. It seems to be one of the cool kids’ darling distilleries. They’re fairly tough to find in my area so I scooped up a twelve year old when I found it. When I first opened it, I was disappointed. Thin and watery with an odd, musty undertone on the nose and an odd sharp bitterness on the arrival. It also felt odd, like it was carbonated (fizzy). After a few weeks, the nose seemed to improve a bit, but the “fizzy vinegar” impression remained. I wanted to be optimistic, but I’m just not patient enough (or not wealthy enough) to leave the bottle for several months (years?) and hope it gets better. Here is my best attempt to make sense of my tasting notes:

  • Nose: red grapes, some honey, an ill-defined sour note, mustiness (old basement?)

  • Palate: sharp, bitter arrival (grapefruit pith?), effervescent (fizzy, not in a good way), very thin-bodied, a bit of red fruit

  • Finish: cheap balsamic vinegar, stale dates, an off-putting sour note lingers. Unpleasant.

I don’t know what to say. I wanted this to be good. I wanted to be positive. But this was a miss. A week after contacting Glenfarclas, I have yet to hear a response. I will post any answers I get here.

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52 comments

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

Thanks for posting this review. It's important that when there are bad bottles orexpressions people are made aware. It could potentially save someone from buying a bad bottle that they cannot return.

6 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

It is good to hear about the failures too. Thanks for your review, @OdysseusUnbound.

6 days ago 0

@Hewie
Hewie commented

We understand you get no pleasure from writing a review such as this. However, as has been stated elsewhere, bad bottles happen for a variety of reasons and that is just something we must accept as we explore the world of whisky. I hope you get to experience an awesome bottle of Glenfarclas sometime in the future.

6 days ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Hewie 2 things.

I don't believe we ought to "accept" bad bottles as a cost of "doing business". We should hold the makers to a higher standard. If it sucks, they should pay, not us.

I got a lot of pleasure writing my Lambertus review...

6 days ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

I didn’t enjoy writing this. As sarcastic and cheeky as I can be, I want to be optimistic about whisky. I want to give producers the benefit of the doubt. But as much as I tried to look on the bright side of this, it was just bad. Really bad.

6 days ago 2Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@Hewie, when I, when some of us here at Connosr get together for another epic session, a bottle of the elusive Glenfarclas 15 YO will be available for @OdysseusUnbound to enjoy.

6 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@OdysseusUnbound Surprising you didn't hear back from the company. From everything I've heard of this family -owned company they put a lot of emphasis on quality.

6 days ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@paddockjudge I suspect that will bring him back into the 'Farclas fold.

6 days ago 1Who liked this?

@casualtorture
casualtorture commented

I thoroughly enjoyed both the 12 and 15yo. Wonder what happened to this one.

6 days ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@casualtorture Me too. I've had several bottles of the 12 over the years and they have all been good. Just a rare bad bottle I imagine. And as @Victor said, it could have nothing to do with the distillery, but possibly the result of poor handling or storage at the retail level.

6 days ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

That "old basement" part actually sounds nice.

I suspect it's not.

6 days ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@MadSingleMalt I don't want to be too negative on my blog, so I'm not sure yet. Probably not. At least not until I get a response from Glenfarclas. What is a reasonable amount of time to wait for an answer? A week? Two weeks?

6 days ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

A day in the outbox for every year in the cask.

6 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@OdysseusUnbound I think 2 weeks, then a follow-up, maybe to mention you are waiting for their response before posting your review on your blog...

6 days ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Nozinan I got a response today from a man who works for the company that imports/sells Farclas to the LCBO. It was a fairly standard “sorry about that, this has never happened in the history of Glenfarclas, can I help you buy another bottle.” No explanation, but maybe they don’t have one.

6 days ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

It's possible. Good that they offered to replace the bottle.

6 days ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

Maybe you can get them to buy you a bottle even though you returned the other one...

It does make good sense, even if it costs them, because if their product is good it will rebuild your confidence.

6 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Hewie
Hewie commented

@OdysseusUnbound that sounds a bit ambiguous - are they offering to find you one for you to pay for or to replace yours at no cost?

5 days ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Hewie It’s already returned. Here’s an excerpt from what they sent me.

Once that is done, we would be very pleased to assist you in obtaining another bottle which I am sure will be in perfect condition. Please let me know if there is anything else we can do to assist you with this. If you have any difficulties at the LCBO (which you should not - they are very good about handling such returns), please do let me know and we will do whatever possible to help out. There is ample stock of 12 year old in Ontario at the moment but if a bottle is not handy to your location, perhaps we can assist with that as well.

It sounds to me like they want me to buy another one.

5 days ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@OdysseusUnbound Question: "Can I help you buy another bottle." Answer: " No, a--hole, you can give me another bottle."

5 days ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@OdysseusUnbound, I have experienced poor corks on my bottles of G'farclas 15 and 17. A few years back (I think it was 2014) I purchased 4 bottles each of Glenfarclas 15YO and Glenfarclas 17 YO. The corks have been snapping in the neck of the bottle. The last breakage experienced was at my daughter's wedding rehearsal party. @talexander was there to see the carnage that had preceded his arrival. We got through it by opening half-a-dozen different bottles of happy juice, but something like that is enough to drive a man to drink! Perhaps the distributor or carrier have a less than perfect system for safe guarding the integrity of these bottles and their contents...THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY THE LCBO COULD BE IMPROPERLY MANAGING WHISKY STOCKS. We all know that storing bottles in a horizontal fashion ...I'm wasting data...I've seen hundreds of unopened whisky bottles stored on their side in multiple LCBO stores. Whenever I suggest it might be best practice to stand the bottle upright, I'm on the receiving end of either a lazer sharp death stare or the casual shoulder shrug and IDGAF frown. I installed central air five years ago to ensure that my lovely bride could enjoy creature comforts in her own home; a bi-product of this is climate control for my stash...WIN/WIN!!

Food for thought...invite the rep to drop by and join a group of whisky lovers as they reassess the likelihood of continuing with a planned Glenfarclas vertical tasting session.

5 days ago 6Who liked this?

@nooch
nooch commented

@paddockjudge how do I score an invite to The Glenfarclas Redemption Tasting?

5 days ago 0

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

@paddockjudge I am curious about the differences between the 15 and 17 in 2014. My guess would be that the 17 was better as I didn't like the 15 from 2013 to 2015 and I didn't taste the 2016 for that reason. My point is that the 15 and 17 are very close and you should choose the batch over the expression. I remember drinking a fantastic 15 from 2011 or 2012 and that 2 years later the 17 was fantastic as well and very close to that 15. Did you have the same experience?

5 days ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Robert99, I have no doubts that it is possible to get a bad bottle of Glenfarclas 15 yo, just as it is possible to get a bad bottle of any whisky. So far, though, you and Jim Murray are the only two people I have read who have reported on bad bottles of Glenfarclas 15 yo. I haven't yet opened up that bottle of Glenfarclas 15 yo that you brought me from Quebec. I certainly hope that it is not cursed because it came from the SAQ.

5 days ago 0

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

@Victor I am not saying that my bottle was bad the way the bottle of @OdysseusUnbound was. What I found is a bottle where the alcohol is dominating covering the nice flavors of the sherry that are still there.

5 days ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

Perhaps Glenfarclas heard the rumblings here at Connosr. The Glenfarclas rep replied to my email and was disappointed that my local KGBO did not have a replacement bottle of Farclas 12. He has offered to personally deliver a replacement bottle into my hot little hands. I graciously accepted and will undoubtedly write a follow-up review.

5 days ago 3Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@Robert99 The 17 is generally considered to be inferior to the 15. I have only had the 17 once and have since passed up many opportunities to buy it again. I never pass up an opportunity to buy the 15 if the price is right.

5 days ago 0

@Alexsweden
Alexsweden commented

Ouch! Hopefully he delivers a stellar bottle and soon!!

5 days ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@BlueNote I’m hoping he’s not personally delivering a bottle and expecting me to pay him for it. Let me re-check the email.

I am very sorry that the LCBO store you visited did not have a replacement bottle for you and I am especially concerned that you have been deprived the opportunity to taste this great whisky, in good condition. So - if you agree, (and to correct this regrettable situation) I would like to deliver a bottle to you. I actually live in (name redacted) and do travel through Barrie on a fairly regular basis. If you would like to send me a delivery address and contact telephone number, I would be very pleased to stop by with the bottle - of course I will contact you first to confirm the date and time.

Doesn’t sound like he’s expecting me to pay him for it. Ian has actually been quite prompt and courteous. I’m willing to remain optimistic.

5 days ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@OdysseusUnbound Yes, it sounds like he's doing his best to make you happy.

5 days ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@OdysseusUnbound , I imagine a man of your tact and sophistication can find a way to discretely ask him what sort of financial obligation you might expect from his welcome visit.

5 days ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@MadSingleMalt I don't think he should. The agent is not licensed to sell liquor as retail, so he can only give it to him fore free.

5 days ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@MadSingleMalt I don't think @OdysseusUnbound should bring up the subject of money. He should just accept the bottle and say thank you. If the subject of payment comes up he should just hand the bottle back to the rep and politely mention that he assumed the faulty bottle would be replaced at no cost.

5 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@BlueNote Agreed. The agent is not allowed to sell to individuals, just to LCBO. I can't imagine it anyway. The distillery is trying to rescue a future client.

5 days ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@BlueNote You hit the nail on the head. If payment were to come up, the ambassador/importer/agent would be told (politely) to take a walk.

5 days ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@OdysseusUnbound I can't see that happening. But I wouldn't be surprised if the bottle came with some swag, like a special glass or something.

5 days ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

I also mentioned, in my original email, that I’d talked to many people in many whisky discussion groups and that Glenfarclas seems to have a stellar reputation, so I’m at a loss as to how this happened. I may be an insignificant drop in the bucket (or cask as it were), but word of mouth is a powerful thing. The people running these businesses are much smarter than I am, I’m sure they understand it’s cheaper to get me a new bottle, even at a loss, than it is to risk having a potentially belligerent person criticizing their brand all over the Interwebz.

5 days ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

Yeah, well, prostitutes aren't supposed to accept money for sex either, but it's still a good idea to clarify expectations before you bring her home. :)

4 days ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@Robert99, I find the 2014 batch of G'farclas 15 YO an enjoyable dram. The 17 YO is, to me, a much different animal than the 15YO. I find the slightly younger version to be bright and sharp while Gf 17 is better rounded. The term "entry level" is often used when discussing the merits of young and affordable whisky; I tend to shy away from this term. I would definitely consider Gf 17 to be an introductory level single malt. It is elegant, delicious, and somewhat affordable. I can't think of a better introduction.

4 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

@BlueNote I know that it is the general opinion but my experience is closer to the one of @paddockjudge .

@paddockjudge I totally agree with you. The 17 is more rounded and I would add that the fruits are less vibrant. But they both have the same kind of finish and in both the sherry cask is the main act, at least for me. Another point is that I may have jump over the 2014 and taste more than once another year or I may have got a sample from a lesser bottle. As it is often the case, we had similar experience.

4 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Alexsweden
Alexsweden commented

The plot thickens. It'll be interesting to see how this pans out. Personally I would assume the bottle and possible gift to be just that, a gift..

4 days ago 2Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@ - paddockjudge

I had a similar issue with my first Glenfarclas 12. The cork top came off and left a brittle, dry cork inside. I contacted Master of Malts, who I bought it from, and after sending some pictures they offered to replace it if I sent the original back to them.

As it happens I was buying a few from them at that time and so they offered to send me a replacement in that order, free of charge, and said I could dispose of the original bottle as best I saw fit.

So, I, er, drank it and it was good :) (once I'd sieved all the bits of cork out)

4 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@RianC Sometimes it's cheaper for the seller to just send another...

4 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Alexsweden
Alexsweden commented

I also got a bad cork on a bottle of 'farclas 12. Quality issues?

3 days ago 0

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