The Whisky Exchange Black Friday 2017 Edition

As we go through with life, we learn that not everyone’s the same. Even though we are all part of the human race, we are still very different. A family of four living under one roof can have four different personalities. Different people from different parts of the world can get together and be of one mind.

This brings me to remember that different words have different meanings or intentions behind them; it all depends on who says it. One surprising thing for me was learning what “bless your heart” means in the southern USA. To the rest of the world, that phrase sounds like another way to express gratitude or thanks, but it can also be used as an insult in the South.

This led me to ponder the phrase “I don’t know.” These words have always been with us, and it’s fair to assume that it usually means something negative. It’s an answer that often leads to disappointment because we think of a situation wherein the respondent lacks the correct or sufficient information with which to answer the question.

On that note, I feel that mixed feelings of amusement, pity or superiority arise when a newbie gets asked what they want to to drink and responds with “I don’t know.” Having been on both ends of these conversations has granted me perspectives on the varied ways people react. One person can also react differently depending on his mood or the person in front of him.

A couple of the most common responses I’ve heard of that easily come to mind start with “What’s your usual drink?” This leads to the veteran trying to figure out what the newbie will like depending on what’s available. I guess this is a mix of amusement with a bit of superiority, as there is a problem to be solved and someone to enlighten. There’s also the typical “time to start drinking better” or “what are you doing with your life?” which can sound mean or endearing depending on the relationship of the group.

Is it really only a matter of what someone knows or not, or does the identity of the asker also matter? Think of a theoretical situation where we give a well-known whisky critic the choice of 100 bottles each with a score of 90 or more. “I don’t know” will most likely be one of the first words coming out of his mouth. Laughs and giggles are likely to be our initial reaction. You won’t even need to have a professional whisky critic in that situation to get that kind of answer. I bet asking any of my fellow Malt writers what their favorite whisky or spirit is will make them think for a bit. It doesn’t mean they don’t know anything about whisky. It can mean the abundance of choices and experience can just make it hard to decide on just one.

Instances like these reinforce a few things. First: there is no universal best whisky. So many things can be a factor, such as the drinker’s mood or one’s obsession with a current trend. Second: preferences may not last forever. Someone with a novice palate may prefer the less “in-your-face” drinks like vodka and mass-market blended Scotch. Meanwhile, someone with a more advanced palate will like more challenging drinks like Mezcal and whisky like Clynelish. Third: sometimes, saying “I don’t know” can be a more secure answer compared to someone pretending they know more than they really do.

Speaking of “I don’t know,” I am not familiar with Black Friday releases, but it’s evidently a brand under The Whisky Exchange. This is a bottling I didn’t know about until a friend gave me a sample. Thanks to Keith from Singapore for being generous with this one. Glenfarclas is one of those distilleries that usually doesn’t allow bottlers to use their name, but according to some Whiskybase reviews, this is a 16 Year Glenfarclas. This was the 2017 edition, bottled at 54.6% ABV.

Black Friday 16 year old 2017 Edition – review

Color: Amber.

On the nose: Sharp ethanol notes followed by scents of hints of sulfur, coffee and sultanas. Sharp but mellow scents of cream, peppers, figs, cherry-flavored candy, tobacco, leather, more sulfur, raisins and hint of strawberry jam. Scents of mocha and sawdust.

In the mouth: Sweet, but in an astringent way. Hints of sulfur and pepper followed by stronger tastes of coffee, dark chocolate, tobacco, figs and dried dates. Hints of strawberry jam, cream, nutmeg and thyme.


One of the better contemporary sherried single malts I’ve had in recent memory. I like that it’s not gushing with sulfur. I applaud the person who chose this blend or blended it for TWE. That individual or group did a very good job.

I’m not a fan of the very hot and sharp nose, though. My usual complaint with sherried whisky is the sulfur taste and smell. But the little sulfur here isn’t the problem. The sharp and strong ethanol just overpowers every other scent and makes smelling this less pleasant.

The ABV is not an issue in the mouth. I get to taste everything here more clearly, like the typical oloroso cask flavors in a Speyside whisky. Each flavor gets enough time to show off. There’s enough depth and complexity in this to make me want more, but also to feel like it’s not lacking.

If this really is a Glenfarclas, it makes me want to buy more of them again. I haven’t had any of the original bottlings in years. This is also my first independently bottled Glenfarclas. Are most of them this good? If yes, I wouldn’t mind paying for them! This went for £60 in 2017. I wouldn’t mind buying an entire case if this is still the price.

Score: 7/10

CategoriesSingle Malt

John is a cocktail and spirits enthusiast born and raised in Manila. His interest started with single malts in 2012, before he moved into rum and mezcal in search of malterntaitves – and a passion for travel then helped build his drinks collection.

  1. PBMichiganWolverine says:

    I’ve not tried the 2017, but last year’s ( Glenburgie supposedly ) was amazing, especially considering the price. This year’s ( supposedly Ardmore), was sold out before we even saw sunlight here in the eastern US

    1. John says:

      To be honest, I didn’t even know this was a thing by TWE. I had this sample for a long time before tasting it. Luckily the research revealed these releases to me. It sounds like these releases are actually good and not just taking advantage of a holiday. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Apple W says:

    I just purchased a bottle of Glenfarclas 105 that was bottled in 2018. It is not all that complex, but the one thing that struck me was that there was not even a trace of sulfur–definitely the cleanest sherried whisky I have bought in a long time from that standpoint.

    1. John says:

      Hi Apple, if you want to give the Farlcas 105 another chance, I suggest you find some in Taiwan as they get 105s with age statements. I heard George Grant is married to a Taiwanese lady. So that market gets special releases.

      From what I understand, and taste, most young Farclas releases aren’t entirely ex sherry casks? Or maybe they also just use old sherry casks which are devoid of the contemporary sulfuring practices

  3. Flashphil says:

    I have the complete set up to now if you live in the UK its a 6 am start to get a bottle and they’ve usually gone in ten minutes or so very special whiskys at very good prices its worth the early start

  4. Alistair Kelly says:

    I totally agree. “What’s your favourite /top 5/top 10” can only be really answered with the word “current” included in the question.

    If you have a large pool of favourites to draw on, whisky is similar to music in that sense.

    1. John says:

      Hi Alistair, thanks for the comment.
      As someone who has drunk and is drinking a lot of different spirits too, everything can be blurred. But the rarest or best stuff really do just stand out.

  5. Robert Hutchison says:

    I think this is the 4th or 5th.. Can’t remeber the 1st release but 2016 was 18yo (I think) Highland Park, 2017 the Farclas, according to PBMichiganWolverine a Glenburgie and this year 22 yo Ardmore. Luckily was up at 7am and managed to grap one of the few remaining bottles. Sold out in 2 hours or less

    1. John says:

      Hi Robert, thanks for the comment. Well, damn. More releases I can’t get my hands on. Good to know that TWE is releases good stuff and not just taking advantage of the holidays.

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