Advent Day 9: 1997 Glenfarclas 17 y.o. (Samaroli)

Secret Spirits Advent Calendar Day 9 – December 9th024

1997 Glenfarclas 17 y.o. (Samaroli)

Cask #1376 American Oak

45% abv

Score:  90.5/100


A whisky from the Secret Spirits Advent Calendar First Edition. 

Pepping toms rejoice!  Another nearly naked Glenfarclas.  Regular readers will recall we covered an SMWS release with a similar profile a couple of months back.  That one was equally well-received.  And much like that sexy beast, this one is also a single cask bottling.  This time, however, we have the team at Samaroli to thank for exposing us to it.

Ok…enough in the way of innuendo.  Moving on…

Glenfarclas is a Highland /Speyside distillery (depending on who you talk to, or what sort of exceptions you are inclined to take to what is on the label) that is almost universally renowned for its brilliant sherried malts.  This family owned and operated distillery has been in the loving and capable hands of the Grant family for half a dozen generations now, and they seem to know exactly what to do in order to keep the whisky up to standards that even the most discerning whisky snob will appreciate (irrespective of recent discussions revolving around reducing the much-lauded 10 y.o. ‘105’ to an NAS offering).  Even so, they are sort of a one trick pony.  I suppose it comes back to a line of thought similar to: ‘find something you do well and stick with it’.

I appreciate that, but it’s for this very reason that I’m stoked to dive into another Glenfarclas that falls outside that norm.  And I’m even further delighted to report that it is unquestionably a winner.

This one is kind of like the first time you get to see your beautiful girlfriend without her make-up on…and realizing she’s just as lovely – if not more so – without it.  I’d love it if the Grant family would make moves to add an unsherried malt to their range.  Doubt it will ever happen, but this proves the quality of the spirit is such that it matures beautifully no matter the wood treatment.

Nose:  Never in a million years would I peg this as a Glenfarclas.  Neat bread and fruit mix a la hot cross buns.  Apple pie with cinnamon.  Shortbread.  Some fruity gum or candy.  Poached pear.  Some honey.  Some vanilla.  Quite creamy.

Palate:  Arrives with hints of mezcal and an almost coal smoke-like darkness.  None too heavy though.  Is this related to the cask-charring, I wonder?  Barley notes follow.  Dry scones.  Ginger.  Wow…what an odd left turn from where the nose had me thinking we were going with this one.  The fruits emerge afterwards: toasted orange and apple.  Spicy bourbon-oak at the tale end.

Thoughts:  Surprisingly naked Glenfarclas.  Unquestionably one of the most unique and enjoyable ‘Farclas malts I’ve ever tasted.  Wish the abv was higher.

Bonus:  My mate, Jonathan, and I are gonna blog on these drams side by side through the season.  Here’s a link to his notes on the same whisky at


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

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