Glenfarclas 105 was one of the first whiskies I ever shared notes for years ago when I first starting nattering online about whisky and such. Much like looking back at your awkward teenage years, there’s an element of ‘oh dear gawd, really?’ when I looked back at the review and notes.
Also…it was an older batch from years back, so why not revisit, right?
Though it’s not very widely trumpeted, batch variation (let’s call it that, even though these aren’t really touted as ‘batch’ releases or anything) in the Glenfarclas 105 is as much a reality as it is the industry’s other true young sherried heavyweight, Aberlour a’bunadh. It’s simply the nature of the game, and I’m ok with it. Let’s allow these things to evolve. Our insistence on consistency (with the exception of an insistence on consistent quality) is the reason we ended up with chill filtration, caramel colouring and homogenous blending practices. Malt whisky is about strength of character, not conformity and subtlety. Forget fitting in.
Glenfarclas is a Speyside distillery that enjoys unusually high esteem amongst those in the whisky spheres. The long line of Georges and a John who have run this family-led operation through the generations have done an exceptional job of crafting a line of whiskies that have garnered them global accolades. And rightfully so. Traditional, quality and independence are all values held in esteem by the Grant family.
The ‘105’ in question here is actually in reference to the old British proofing system. Whereas now this 60%’er would be considered 120 proof, under the old Brit way it was 105 proof. Clear as mud?
This NAS (No Age Statement) release is a startlingly beautiful whisky. Not my favorite, but exceptionally composed and one to be mulled over with plenty of time and good company.
For a unique tasting experience, try doing a horizontal tasting with this, the Aberlour a’bunadh and the Macallan Cask Strength. That should fill your youthful sherry quotient for the year.
Nose: The smell of empty, but wet wine barrels or sherry butts. Fudge and milk chocolate give an overall éclair-like aroma. Caramel pudding. Berry puree. Raisin and currants. Espresso. Pipe tobacco. Cinnamon and sweet barley notes. Strawberry rhubarb pie (sweet and tart). Hint of marmalade. Thick moist rummy fruitcake. Touch Bovril or Beef Oxo.
Palate: Somewhat leathery (odd, I know…sorta meaty, really). Pepper over mincemeat. Rum. Cough syrup and coffee. Eucalyptus. Touch of hot rubber. Wow, is this big. Aenesthetizing. Love it.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt
When i first met this bottling (the previous, taller bottle), i absolutely fell in love with it. But when i purchased my second, newer verison, well, it was a bit dissapointing according to the older one. I bet that the second one contained much younger spririts, it wasn’t that deep like the first one. I can take me off from the 105′ road….
The 15 yo did the same. The older was better. Now i’m looking for a 17 yo, maybe that will save the reputation of Glenfarclas for me. 🙂
you never forget your first…
Yes, i’m pretty sure, that the first ones are nearly always better than the followers.
They’ve come around, at least in Quebec, to putting “10yo” on the bottle. I don’t know if that makes the new-new bottles any different than these old-new bottles.
Hmmmm…interesting. WIll keep my eyes peeled for more info on this.
I’ll note, re: the 10yo thing, they also did the same with the Macallan Cask strength in Quebec. Their bottles said 10yo, while in Ontario, they were NAS.
Yes, it’s a interesting point, Peter: very few labels seem to be “ramping up” in quality, despite everything that the industry claims to have recently learned about production so that it can change all its marketing around. Seems like a trend.
Really enjoy this stuff! Even with having to deal with crumbling cork issues, I keep coming back to this one. In HTH it edges out both Macallan CS and Abunadh for me. A great value sherried whisky, along with Glendronach 15 Revival. BTW, why no review so far on the GD 15?
I had a cork fall apart on me with 105 as well ( I found a Jameson worked well) – and I agree that, as a combination of power and finesse, 105 is slightly better than either Macallan or a’bunadh. What’s more, it takes water very well and becomes appreciably different with different levels of dilution. I wonder if the age appears on the back in grey as a trial balloon to see if people would lap this up as a real NAS?
So true about adding water! I tend to add more water than most, but I slowly add it to see how the whisky changes. This one responds really well with time and water, as does Laphroaig CS.
Reviewed the GD15 long back: http://www.allthingswhisky.com/?p=792
I remember now! Great review of a great value whisky! Recent bottlings are still high quality. I keep getting the urge to buy a couple of cases to store away, but that would be selfish. Thanks for the reminder.
The A’bunadh review reminded me I had a few drams of 105 left over from last winter. I pulled it out the other day, worried I might have left it too long. No problem! It was even better than I remembered! Silky smooth with notes of chocolate, clove, walnut and spice. Even better with water. Now I have to pick another up for my winter stash.
Interesting, reviewing the comments.
I tried this from a mini a couple of nights ago. I loved the nose, both with and without water. But on sipping, it was incredibly hot, and the alcohol really covered up the complexity. With a lot of water, about 4 cc to a 25 cc pour, it was ok, but no better than any or CS Sherry monsters.
I did just buy a bottle in Toronto for 2 reasons. Batch variation (maybe the full size bottle will be better), and the fact that I got an email from George Grant that the next release will be NAS (it will include 9 YO casks), while this one says 10 years.
Yes, I just picked up another one and it’s ten years, in grey, on the back of mine too. So next one will be NAS, but will “include” 9 YO casks (and, presumably, those not quite so old as well). Everybody still sure that NAS is harmless? Lord knows, age is irrelevant – once it hits the bottle.
No, the implication by Mr. Grant was that some of the spirit in the bottle would be as young as 9 years, not younger. But I guess NAS markets better than single digit age unless you’re a peat monster…
But it’s going to be NAS, not a 9 YO age statement (which I would be fine with); much as I like Mr. Grant, by reputation at least, you do have more faith in him than I do.
Just tonight, I attended a Glenfarclas tasting here in Edmonton with George Grant, and although the 105 wasn’t on the menu, he did confirm that it is NAS and “about 10 years old” While I still wish that an age statement would be given on the bottle, if I trust any distillery not to let the age slide, it’s Glenfarclas. And I think that they’ve earned that trust (what other large company is selling an age stated 8yr old right now?)
Fair enough, Andrew, and I would agree that, in the grand scheme things, Glenfarclas is far from the least trustworthy of companies. On the other hand, if the intent is NOT to let the age slide, and Glenfarclas is to be trusted in this area, why the lack of an age statement? If Glenfarclas is to be commended on its forthrightness regarding its 8 y.o., wouldn’t it be commended twice as much for putting an 8 on the 105 as well, as opposed to leaving the age a mystery? Why do I have to trust anyone’s word in PLACE of an actual guarantee?
I guess my issue is, as far as any NAS representing ANY kind of “understanding” between producers and consumers, it’s a contract that isn’t worth the paper (or label) it isn’t written on. NAS stands for No Age Statement but, in practice, what it really means is Nothing Actually Said and, most importantly, legally, No Actionable Standing. This is the value of age statements, you see: when the contents change, the label must change as well.
I have here a bottle of the 105, the black tube is stenciled criss cross with “105s” in all kind of typos. On the back it says:
Bottled at 10 years old Glenfarclas 105 is dry and assertive, with a rich spiciness that combines with hints of oak and sherried fruit to create a perfect warming dram.
I found a discription on the internet where it is stated:
Glenfarclas 105 was originally bottled as an 8 Years Old, however since 1989, it has been bottled as a 10 Years Old.
At least in Europe it seems.
Yes, It is bottled at 10 YO. However, the next release will be NAS, according to the distillery. So if age matters to you, get it while you can…
If quality matters, buy whatever you like best.
By all means, drink what you like, but age does matter TO quality. It’s the reason that whisky’s put in cask in the first place and the reason that producers track it once there. No matter how good (or bad), there’s no evidence at all that Uigeadail or A’bunadh aren’t a product of their age, whatever it is. What NAS proves isn’t that age isn’t important, only that, on this bottle, it isn’t going to be discussed or, really, that it’s somehow not important for the consumer, unlike the producer, to KNOW the age.
Consumers who accept this leap in logic, just to make the industry happy – NAS was their idea, not ours, and so age information is only “unimportant” on the bottles where the industry deems it to be the case – aren’t doing themselves any favours, certainly not in the long run. One might never know what’s in their favourite restaurant dish, either, but does that not knowing convince you that it’s irrelevant what ingredients and methods are used in its preparation?
I just picked up two 1L bottles from Best of Whiskey in the Netherlands for about $40USD along with a GL15. Frankly, the GL105 is a bit disappointing – but not horrible; however, I would have to be acquainted with what someone considered “good” GL105 to really know. I do sense that they are definitely 2nd or even 3rd Fill casks which is the cause of the disappointment (can still nose a bit of white dog in there though mostly overidden by the sherry). I can say that on the back of both are the 10y age statements. Also, I note that I can put a LOT of water in this one without drowning the taste – I assume from the primary sherry aging (?).
BTW re: the GL15 – this is totally crap – I am extremely disappointed. Clearly Glenfucklas is using very well used barrels. The white dog is strong on both the nose and the palate. This along with the fact that they can’t even get a decent cork (yes, I had one break on me as well), tells me the quality at GF simply is not worth it. I would not be surprised if they use E150a…
Needless to say, GF is off my list for the future – there are simply too many good options out there.
I should say that this is a whisky that really needs 6 months or more of air exposure to settle down to its best. I recently finished off the last bit of my bottle and neglected to pick up another. I need to do that tomorrow, pop the top, pour a few drams and then put it back till at least February.
@Greg Logan- GF 101 definitely needs a lot of water, both to cut the alcohol and to open up and smooth out the strong sherry flavors.
Robert, that sounds like a case where you need to keep the old empty bottle and split the contents of the new one between the two.
Excellent suggestion! Unfortunately the bottle is long gone, but I can just put it in one of my crystal decanters. I haven’t used them lately, so that would be a good use for one. Thanks for the suggestion!