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Glenfarclas 17 Year Old

Average score from 10 reviews and 28 ratings 87

Glenfarclas 17 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Glenfarclas
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 43.0%

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@MisterDigger
Glenfarclas 17 Year Old

First off, I owe all of my thanks to rigmorole for encouraging me to give this distiller another try after my 10-year debacle tasting at a bar. I had sworn Glenfarclas off at that time. Over my first six weeks into sampling single malts, I had dove in head first to the tune of $1400 US in bottle purchases plus more from bar samplings that totaled 40 single malts and 5 blends. Quite intense to say the least!!!

Previously, Glenkinchie 12 had been my favorite, with Highland Park 18 being my "last bottle purchased" for quite a while as per doctor's advice. Well, as that Moody Blues song goes, "I know you're out there...somewhere", I had no idea that it applied to single malt scotch and I just kept searching for the right one.

Since half of my collection was obtained from reading trusted reviews here on CONNOSR rather than more expensive bar samplings, I just drove home this evening to the only store that I knew handled any of the Glenfarclas malts. They were the 12 and 17 year olds. I already knew from reading these reviews that the highly rated 15 year old was unavailable in the US (presumably because the Scots keep it to themselves). Not wanting to repeat another 10-year debacle from buying the cheaper 12 year old, I plunked down another $85 US on the plastic for the 17 year old. Driving the rest of the way home, I kept asking myself, "What in hell have I just done? This better be good!!!"

When I got home and poured a dram, memories of my first taste of Pappy Van Winkle 15 year old bourbon reappeared. Oh my God! This is PERFECTION!!

To compare this to my days of scuba diving on shear Caribbean walls, one hangs around in the shallow reef flats because it's nice and safe. Most new divers are too afraid to even look over the edge of the top of the wall. Then one day, one takes the leap over the wall. Instead of being terrified, there is the feeling of Nirvana and exhilaration. Fish come up to you to look you in the eye, having never seen a human before. The coral grows from the side of the wall untouched for more than 1000 years because it is far below of the zone affected by hurricanes. This is heaven!!!! (women even ask if it's "better than ahemmmm?!!!"..yes, it is!!)

And comparing Glenfarclas 17 to this underwater world is the closest way to compare to all the rest. I would have given it a 100 score, but it has only been one intense six weeks to find this one, and eventually I may find one better that is readily availble and not a one-of-a-kind.

Oh yeah, for those boring tasting notes, the nose is like the sweetest smelling lady and the taste is like caramel mixed with a perfect selection of herbs and gentle spices. The finish is medium to long, but I could not detect smoke as others have said. Comparing this to Christmas cake is just not fair, as this one is so much better! As I said before, Pappy Van Winkle 15 year old bourbon is my closest taste comparison, and nothing else in my collection even comes close.

Thanks again, rigmorole, and my friends have graciously offered to help me out in my "predicament". I figure for each one that I convert from those awful blends to single malts, that will get me one step closer to heaven. So, say hallelujah!

Simeon:

The 15 year old was unavailble in my part of the country, so I tried that awesome bottle of 17 year old. It was so good that I bought the very last bottle of 17 year old from my favorite store and have never seen it for sale again. Knowing that, I saved it for months and refused to open it until I found another bottle to back it up. Since I never did find another bottle of 17 year old for sale, I finally opened the bottle that I had been saving for months. To my utter horror, the cork on that bottle had dry rotted and the taste of the malt was okay, but nothing to write home about. So that heavenly Glenfarclas 17 was a once in a lifetime event for me, because I have switched from single malts to cabernet wine to tremenously improve my health. Yes, I do pick up a wheated bourbon or good affordable single malt once in a while, but nothing at all like the frenzy in which I tasted and wrote all of my reviews. If I ever lose my ordered list, I just refer to my reviews to see what was good. I do know one thing, blends are not the best value, and a well chosen single malt can be cheaper and better than the best blend. Just find your favorite region and start sampling.

Got my bottle of 17. I noticed right away that its condition was...weird. The cardboard tube had discoloration, with maroon fading to pink in the front. When I pulled the bottle out, it had some kind of smelly substance dried onto it. The little copper medallion with the engraved "G" had come unglued. I sponged the bottle with dish soap and stuck the medallion back on with superglue. It all makes me wonder what kind of journey my bottle has taken. This bottle is now banned in Michigan due to state restrictions, so I'm keeping it.

R

Nose: High quality sherry, oak, mint, toffee

Palate: Acceleration of sherry the swells to a crescendo, caramel, plums, dates, raisins, hazelnuts, lemon peel, toffee, white cake, marzipan.

Finish: Oak again, hazelnuts, caramel, sherry.

I know my description above sounds perhaps overly sweet tasting to some readers, but I should say that it maintains a wonderfully dry composition that avoids sickly sweet and merely seasons the tongue with hints without being too much.

In fact, I find it to be restrained at first, and then swelling on the mouthfeel to release its full flavor spectrum. This kind of delayed release is something I greatly value when it comes to the palette. No, it's not a "sherry bomb" so to speak, but it is smooth and delightful.

I rank this one above the Aberlour 18, which can be a tad "bourbony" when compared with the sophisticated presence of the Glenfarclas 17. Yes, bourbon flavors are great and all, but not in a glass of expensive single malt scotch, at least not to me.

The Goyne 17 is sharper and more pungent. Farc 17 has a wider palate range. As for "strength" I would say that the Farc is stronger with more flavors but that each flavor does not peak quite as high as the Goyne's. It was a better rounded dram than the Goyne. If you are now a peat head then you might try thinking in terms of how Farc is simply different rather than being "weaker." If peat is like Mercedes Benz G Class then The Farc is like a Porsche Cayman. Different but not in competition with each other. Each is better in its own way. I never mix sherry scotches and peaty ones on the same day. The peat will indeed ruin your tastebuds if you try to drink a sherry scotch afterwards. Ditto for heavy garlic in food. The garlic will kill my tastebuds for a good scotch afterwards.

it just so happens i have the goyne 17 and find it a bit too subtle for my tastebuds nowadays. good for the upcoming summer though. I think my peaty/smoky dram streak is ruining me for the lighter side of single malts! doh! Do you think the farc 17 more of a subtler dram like the goyne 17? or a bit bolder? yes, it is pricey over here at $90 too! thanks!

@WhiskyBee

We Yanks don’t have access to the highly praised Glenfarclas 15 year old, so we have to content ourselves with its younger and older siblings. The 12 and 17 yo’s are closest in age, and I find myself going back and forth as to which I prefer. The 12 is rich and malty, albeit a bit one-dimensional, whereas the 17 is more layered and balanced, but with a few off notes along the way. Nevertheless, I’d gladly accept a dram of either.

Nose: As much sherry as any ’farclas I’ve tried, but mixed with a little too much dusty wood for my liking. The sherry-and-malt marriage in the 12 yo is more pleasing on my proboscis. But the 17 has plenty of delights to compensate for any deficiencies: butterscotch, almonds, raisins, vanilla, and some earthy, herbal notes at the bottom of it all. It’s a big, bold nose with one unfortunate element that’s as pronounced as anything else. Still quite sniff-worthy nonetheless.

Palate: A gutsy arrival full of sherry, spices, and dried fruits. There’s also more malt than the nose led me to expect, and there’s even a hint of peat smoke lurking in the shadows. The development is a bit disappointing, in that the rich sweetness soon turns dry and flat, while the dusty elements from the nose re-appear. There’s good things going on, but it’s not a whisky that benefits from long tongue time. Best to appreciate the positives quickly, swallow, and get on to the finish.

The finish, in fact, is the near-flawless part of the experience. It’s long, warming, and with a fair amount of peppery spice. All the sweetness has virtually disappeared, but the spices and smoke that replace it are richly satisfying and devoid of bitterness.

Despite misgivings, the sweet-to-dry evolution of Glenfarclas 17 is both unique and rewarding. Overall, the quality of this dram reduces my gripes to mere nit-picks.

If you compare The Glenfarclas 17 with the 15 the older Expression is more elegant than it's younger sibling; less fruity, more herbs and vetsore dry in the finish. You should also try the 21 - more complexity, more oak with a whiff of smoke and a great whisky.

@maltster - I'll definitely get a bottle of the 21 one of these days. Unfortunately, it's in the price range of about 50 other whiskies I want to try, but I'll give it strong consideration the next time I have $120 to spend on a bottle. Based on the flavor descriptions I've read, it seems like a can't-miss.

@rigmorole - Many thanks!

@talexander

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.

The 17 yo is not hard to find here in the States. What we can't get is the 15 yo, which is disappointing because it's more widely praised. (I've got no complaints about my bottle of 17, however.)

I've had two broken corks with Glenfarclas. Tell George to up the quality of their corks if you see him again. ;)

Fine review, BTW.

Thanks @WhiskyBee - I'll kick his ass for you!

@chrisrbarrett

Not nearly as sherry-licious as the progression implied. Slightly lighter than the 15 in colour and in the sherry nose.

Return of the heat provided in the 12 year old at first taste. Very salty and oceanic with a light smokey finish.

Paired with my scotchlate chip cookies made with Glenfarclas 105.

So you bought the whole lot then, Chris?

R

Perhaps I'm not a Speysider when it comes to the living water, at least not as much as I'd once thought.

I have tried some of the top shelf Aberlours and liked them quite a lot, especially the 18 and the A'bunadh.

This said, I guess I have been harboring a grudge against low end Glenfiddich and Glenlivet from my younger years that still haunts.

Tonight, before dinner at the pub, a glass of Glenfarclas 17 evoked bad memories at first whiff. In time, the better elementals respired in the glass, coming to life.

Still, all in all, I was not overly impressed. The palate could not shake a cloying perfume-y scent that that reminded me distantly of, well, Cutty Sark? Ugh.

Rewind to last night after work when I stopped by 10th Avenue Liquor in Portland on my way home, and was steered wrong by a clerk there who suggested that I tuck in a bottle of The MacTarnahan (alleged 9 year-old Glenfarclas) along with a pleasing pair: Tobermory 15 and a Glendronach 15 Revival--both the last bottles in the store, and which I intended to buy before even entering the premises.

Alas, the MacTarnahan turned out to be odious at best, only fit for mixed drinks, as far as I'm concerned after opening it and pouring a sip when I got home. I'm sure future guests will like it well enough with mixers.

Fast forward to the Glenfarclas 17 tonight: A little time in the class cured the bad memories of cheap Speysides from my past (along with the morose ghost of Cutty Sark), but the 17 was not what I had hoped it would be, even in the final analysis.

I followed up the Glenfarclas with a dram of Dalmore Cigar Malt, which I like great deal more, even though it was not the most sophisticated glass of whiskey that I've had the pleasure of drinking.

Before leaving the pub, I hovered over a glass of the Bowmore 16 DT. It certainly wasn't the best Bowmore I've tasted. In fact, I had a glass of the 15 (not darkest) a few weeks ago at Kells Irish Pub. The plain 15 year was delicious and astonishingly good. If memory serves, I much preferred it to the 16 DT tonight. (Perhaps "DT" should stand for Delirium Tremens and not Duncan Taylor. Will a bad pun like that get me kicked off this site? I hope not! A joke, just a joke!!!)

All hail the HIghland Stillhouse for enabling occasional forays into disappointment, as well as the glad eye of good fortune when'er it shines (through the hole in my pocketbook where fresh cabbage used to bloom). The Stillhouse has hundreds of bottles to choose from. A trip there is always an adventure in accidental tourism, and I wouldn't trade even my least favorite glass of the "living water" for anything. Experientia docet.

I'm with you on this one - I liked it, didn't love it. The 105 is fantastic, though. I had the great pleasure of attending a Glenfarclas tasting in Aberlour, during the Speyside Whisky Festival - George Grant was there setting up the bottles on a shitty flimsy table, working his ass off, at the Mash Tun Restaurant / Hotel. It did not include the 17 Year Old (nor the 12 Year Old, strangely) but hit everything else - the greatest drams were the 15 and the 40. Although the 40 will run you at least $300, that's a good price for a 40 year old scotch, and well worth it, IMHO. But the 15 is dynamite, I urge you to try it.

The MacTarnahan has improved after being opened for a few days. It needs air, to be sure. I no longer think it is only for mixed whisky drinks. It's actually not so bad at all. I've had over company, and people seem to like it quite a lot.

At any rate, judging by the subtle and somewhat classy carmely and sherry-eque flavors, I now must consider the possibility that it is indeed 9.5 year old Glenfarclas.

I also wish very much I could taste a 15 year Glenfarclas. Alas, it is nowhere to be found in Oregon. Even the Highland Stillhouse has none.

I stand by my original opinion that the Glenfarclas 17 year was good but too expensive for how it tasted. This said, I'm now interested in trying the 105. I've heard good things about this Glenfarclas fiery cask strength dram.

@DamonMartin

Nose begins with a sweet apple pie giving way to raisins and spices as the aroma settles in. Presents a complex nose worth the time to enjoy. Palate provides an oily texture immediately presenting you with the warm body where the alcohol is clearly present. The complexity reveals a predominate orange zest followed by oak flavors. The finish softens to a long warm oak with hints of smoke and oat flavors.

@WhiskyNotes

Glenfarclas 17 years is not a commonly found expression in the Glenfarclas range. It is bottled in limited quantities and sold primarily in the US and Japan as well as in travel retail. Occasionally you can find it in stores outside these regions as well.

Glenfarclas 17 yo (43%, OB)

Nose: roasted nuts (hazelnuts, almonds) and caramel. A lot of toffee notes. Quite some dates as well. A light hint of eucalyptus and with a heathery / resinous edge. Plenty of fresh herbs like parsley. Beautifully composed. It seems this one is a tad more smokey than other Glenfarclas bottlings as well. Mouth: good attack, again a herbal note up front. Hints of pine needles and resin. Some liquorice. Sherried but malty at the same time. Oak, but not overwhelming. Cloves. Cinnamon sticks. Finish: long, nutty and drying on spices and oak.

One of the more herbal and smokey members of the Glenfarclas range.

That's a pretty decent score too! I'll add it to the enormous pile that is my wishlist...

@jdcook...this one is going on my growing wishlist as well. I think you and I lead in the 'longest wishlist' contest, sponsored by "My Eyes are Bigger Than My Wallet International Bank". :)

@galg

Nose: Big sherry, sweeter than the 15 year old. sultanas,raisins, dates and plums. immersing and very round. a bit mossy ground. fungus.

Palate: Honey, dried fruits and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon) some zest and wee peat smoke. Round, oily and mouth coating.lovely. just plain lovely. Bigger bodied & oilier than the 15.

Finish : Long, nutty and sherry-sweet. ending on spice.

@ScotchHobbyist

Nose: A medium sherry influence with dried fruits, as well as vanilla and oak. Some sweetness mixed in as well. All very well balanced.

Palate: Malty and sweet, and lightly spiced, with noticeable drying on the tongue.

Finish: Balanced on the finish, just as on the nose. It’s probably just the oak/malt combination, but in the nostrils, I could swear there’s a hint of Highland Park style smoke that lingers for a while.

Bottom Line: I’m very impressed with this expression, and purchased a backup bottle when it was on sale locally. This is not a "sherry bomb" by any means. It offers a complex, balanced alternative to other big sherry Glenfarclas offerings.

Hmm, I don't see any way to edit the reviews, so I guess I'll just add a comment. I gave this 9 stars, as when you create a review and hover over the stars, it says 9 stars = 86-90.

My number rating for this one is 88, which for me is a B+, and one of the better whiskies I've tried.

Ok, no way to edit our comments either. If I were to follow the same Star Rating system that Ruben (WhiskyNotes) uses, my rating on this would have been "8 Stars." (88-50) / 5 = 7.6. I would then round up to the nearest half star.

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