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I had the privilege of enjoying a vertical tasting of a range of Glenfarclas (10, 15, 21, 25, 30, 40 and 105), put on by George Grant himself, at the Mash Tun in Aberlour at the Speyside Whisky Festival last May. It was an amazing tasting, and I especially enjoyed the 15 and 40 years old - truly unforgettable drams. This particular expression, the 17 year old, is much harder to find.
Glenfarclas is the oldest family distillery in Scotland, having belonged to the Grants since 1865. It is not a small distillery - a modern mill, six stills and 10 dunnage warehouses - but it has steadfastly remained in the family and cultivated a hand-made, boutique-style commitment to quality and control. They are also the first malt distillery to offer a cask-strength expression - the 105 (60% ABV) back in 1968. This bottle of 17 Year Old has been open for about a month - and upon opening, the cork broke so there are bits of it in there! Make of that what you will.
The colour is a dark brownish gold. On the nose, rum-raisin, butterscotch, burnt-out campfire, with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Quite sherried, though not overtly so. Fresh, clean and invigorating. Water brings out more herbs and dark fruits.
On the palate: light toffee, dark fruits, some pepper and other savoury spices. Slight hint of peat - a tiny bit vegetal. Water makes it creamier and softer - but otherwise dulls the palate a little. Beautifully sherried.
The finish is long, warming, with berry fruits and a hint of smoke and ash. I like this more than when we first opened the bottle about a month ago - so perhaps the oxidation has helped - it feels like it's a bit softer and mellower, whereas a month ago I felt it was too tight and bitter. I still prefer the 15, but one has much to recommend it.