Before I introduce you to the whisky, I would like to start with a little journey. Do you remember your first whisky and how it tasted? I remember and the experience was not good. By the way, parties with whisky and cola don’t count. My first real single malt was a classic, the Glenfiddich 12 year old. I still remember the burning and the whisky almost coming back up. Clearly at that time, whisky was not for me at all.
After this experience, the journey continued after a break of several years. This time with a Dufftown 12 years. Fortunately, I enjoyed this whisky and from there on, I took a closer look at the subject. We went to a beginner tasting with a small group of people and were hyped afterwards. Quickly my first own bottles should follow a Glenfiddich 15 and a Dalmore 12. Both really great beginner whiskies. Also, a Glenfarclas 15 and more of such bottles (unfortunately I don’t remember all of them) went into my bar.
After these whiskies, I bought my first really expensive bottle (expensive at that time – we all know how fast it develops if you get into the subject). I got my first real salary check and therefore it should be something really special. What could be more obvious than to buy an icon among the whiskies that is famous all over the world? Naive as I was, I bought a Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Quite a nice whisky, but the value for money is debatable. I still have the bottle in my collection and didn’t drink much of it.
But from there on in, it really started and the collection of whiskies grew more and more. Kicking off with some standards, it continued with older bottles, the first independent bottlers and whiskies in cask strength. A journey that I like to look back on. Especially the time I spend with friends sharing my hobby.
One distillery that I particularly appreciated during my journey is Glenfarclas. A distillery that does relatively little marketing. It, therefore, has reasonable price tags, especially for their core range. When it comes to marketing, I am not a fan of brands that push their whisky with crazy stories like Vikings and such things. Of course, sometimes I also enjoy a good story behind a whisky, especially if it’s about the people who produce it or the ingredients, but I think some brands are over the top nowadays.
The most important thing I really like about Glenfarclas, and why I recommend it to beginners and experienced whisky drinkers, to get in touch with, is that they generally do not use any colouring and most of their whiskies have an alcohol content of more than 40 per cent. These cannot be taken for granted nowadays, especially for distilleries that produce that amount of whisky. As a beginner, you are able to taste through the different styles of Glenfarclas like the starting point with the Glenfarclas 12, which already has an alcohol content of 43 per cent. Then, move onto the Glenfarclas 15, which contains 46 per cent. Both whiskies provide a beautifully sweet sherry profile. If you go further, you can find the older versions like the 25 years old (I really love that whisky) which only has 43 per cent alcohol, but is halfway affordable for its age and offers a much more complex experience with a typical dark and nutty oloroso sherry taste. The Glenfarclas 105 is another single malt that is interesting on this road. With its 60 per cent of alcohol the whisky gives you a punch to the face, but not in a bad way. It’s a fantastic fruity and spicy sherry-bomb that brings much power to the tongue, but can be played with by adding a bit of water.
In general, I think Glenfarclas is a fantastic distillery for beginners to experience natural sherry-style whiskies and the influence of alcohol on the taste. The only sad thing about these whiskies is that sometimes, a slightly sulphurous aroma shines through one or the other bottle. Unfortunately, this is a typical problem with whiskies from sherry casks.
The love for one or the other Glenfarclas whiskies also made me aware of the Family Cask range. On the surface these whiskies already look great: transparent information on cask ageing, single cask bottling, cask strength, uncoloured and not chill-filtered; that’s how whisky should be. The only downside is the price, as the 16-year-old Glenfarclas from the Refill Sherry Butt costs about 128 Euro. But you also get 58.8% ABV.
Glenfarclas Family Cask 16 years old 2001 – 2017 (Cask 3352)
On the nose: The whisky has a very nice sweet oloroso-sherry profile with a touch of sherry smoke. You can feel the power behind the alcohol, which pushes the aromas strongly forward, but does not sting in the nose. You can smell spicy oak and especially a lot of sweet peach with a hint of caramel. After a while, you get a light grape note. The whisky seems seductively sweet. With a shot of water, it becomes less sweet but spicier and gets a herbal note.
In the mouth: It’s a typical Glenfarclas, but much more intense than the standard range. You notice the high alcohol on the tongue. The whisky tastes tart but sweet at the same time with dark fruits like fig and raisins, with the peach shining through again. Besides the fruits, there is a nice chocolate note and extreme oak spice, which lingers on the tongue for a long time. Basically the whisky has a nice long, spicy and delicately bitter finish.
The 16 year old Glenfarclas is a successful entry into the world of the Family-Cask series! It is a nice, clean Sherry whisky, without any flaws. With its cask strength, it has a lot of power which it brings to the tongue. If you are used to cask strength, you could also enjoy the whisky straight. However, I tend to add a few drops of water to make it a little more digestible. Even though it is much more expensive for its 16 years in relation to the standard range, the whisky offers a completely different experience. If you like the style of Glenfarclas and have already tried the standard range, you should definitely go for it. But after that, there is probably no turning back.