I like Glenfarclas. I really do. I think they’re one of the greatest value-for-money distilleries in Scotland. As makers of sweeter, non-peated whiskies, they’re a distillery I recommend without hesitation. I even like that their website looks like it’s from the 1990s, and you can enter an age verification date back in the mid 14th Century and still get through. Fancy marketing can sod off; this lot are about good whisky, pure and simple.
Founded in 1836, the distillery is located on moorland a mile away from the River Spey. In 1865 it was purchased by John Grant and today it’s still owned by his family – making it one of Scotland’s few proper family run distilleries. Most of their whiskies have lived only in sherry butts. Now, there’s a nice puritanical streak that you get with this distillery. They’re not one for radical experimentation. When every other distillery is trying for interesting wood finishes for their whiskies, and even has their coffee shop serve you a cappuccino in a Bordeaux cask, then there’s something quite pleasant in the fact that Glenfarclas stoically stick to tradition.
Which brings me to a not-great dram. In fact, it’s my first ever disappointment with a Glenfarclas whisky. It’s often the way that when you like a distillery you tend to put their whiskies under slightly greater scrutiny than you otherwise would. Tough love, n’all that.
The Glenfarclas 30 Years Old is the whisky that I am talking about.
Colour: about as near to perfect amber as you’ll get. On the nose: nicely forthcoming sweetness, but not as outrageously a dry-fruit bomb as I was expecting. Blood oranges, nectarines perhaps. Sour sweets. Not too dissimilar to the Glenfiddich 18. It’s all very gentle stuff.
In the mouth: as with the nose, everything is quite quiet in this. Gentle vanilla and a little wood spice, more the kind of notes I’d expect from a bourbon cask. Jamaican ginger cake, but only a waft. Malted milk biscuits. Starbucks Latte with a tot of brandy in it. Warming, with a little pepper, and a curious bitter note that doesn’t quite make it for me.
Whilst not a bad dram, I think the Glenfarclas 30 Years Old is one of those age statement whiskies that prove age statements are not all they’re cracked up to be. Perhaps this was a particularly duff batch, but give me the Glenfarclas 15 Years Old over this any day.
I did not think this whisky worth the price. I still love Glenfarclas, though.