The younger standard Glenfarclas 105, which I’m certain many of you have tried, succeeds primarily because of the youthful exuberance of its bold and unrestrained sherry. Oftentimes though, you’ll find that younger whiskies still haven’t ironed out all their kinks. While I certainly can’t say that that is the case with the afore-mentioned Glenfarclas 105, I can say that once you’ve tried that bold flavour profile it’s hard not to wonder what the whisky would be like with a few more years of maturation behind it.
Fortunately, the Grant family have allowed us that opportunity, in releasing the Glenfarclas 105 20 year old. The same massive 60% abv…the same sexy dark hues, but in striking new packaging and with an entirely new market niche. So…let’s have a look at what another 10-15 years in the cask does to this heavyweight sherried charmer.
Short answer…a lot. This is a vastly different dram from the standard bottling. The differences are a little deeper than simple variations on a theme too. The younger edition is vibrant and lush, while this one bears a lot more dark, dry and monolithic heft. Very much individual entities, both. While immediately notably different, it took me a good while to wrap my head around this one and decide what exactly it was that worked here vs what worked on the younger 105. Needless to say, it was an enjoyable session of nosing/tasting.
In the end…I’ll give the extra marks to this one.
Nose: A lot of chocolate. Much deeper and darker than its younger stable mate. Cinnamon and old leather. Some surprising floral notes. More sulphur than I’m used to seeing on a Glenfarclas, though still not a lot. The fruits (deep purples and reds…a la plum, raspberry, strawberry, prune) are buried beneath a roof of dark chocolate. A deep inhalation is needed to really set ’em free. After a while, when the sulphur note fades (and it does fade, if not quite disappearing), the nose is incredibly mature and sophisticated. Distant waft of latex. Cigar.
Palate: Touch of sulphur again. Very mouthcoatingly jammy; almost like a smear of mixed red berry jam and sticky toffee pudding across the roof and sides of the mouth. This is so heavy it’s practically pulling the corners of my mouth down. If only all malts had this texture. Orange and raisin. The palatal equivalent of dunnage warehouse aroma.
Took a while to score this one. I would highly suggest a good ten minutes in the glass with the occasional swirl before giving this serious consideration.
Have I mentioned how much I love this distillery?
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Glenfarclas