Review Stub: Glenfarclas 15yo (and “Remembering the Family Cask”)

A friend’s recent birthday get together just happened to be at a bar with a decent Scotch collection, stocking many whiskies that I would be unlikely to buy a bottle of because of the price and/or review consensus.

Nose: Cookies. Butterscotch, cinnamon, orange peel and cherry. A real basket of great, sweet flavours. Smooth. Smells older than 15.

Palate: Rather hot and rough, with or without water, for a 15 year old. Creamy sherry, raisins and other soft fruits. Almonds.

Finish: Medium length with a noticeable dark chocolate note.

Grade: B-

Retasted and re-evaluated UP. See the updated notes HERE.

I really wanted to like this one. Going into it, I had heard great things, and I wanted so badly for it to knock me off my socks and make me buckle down and buy a bottle. The nose began with so much promise, but the palate was a rather rough let-down. Not terrible, not even bad really, but just your average speysider with some maturity. To that end, I’ve currently got so many other Speysides that, for a similar price, do the same thing so much better.

Coarse Notes on the ’97 Glenfarclas ‘Family Cask’ for Kensington Wine Market (Calgary, AB):

Something about this review really makes me think about the merits of cask-strength and small batch for some distilleries (the going consensus on the Scotch blogs I follow seems to be that Highland Park is fine, if not better, at the standard 43-46% ABV, for example). Upon tasting the 15yo Glenfarclas, I compared it to the (14 yo) ’97 Glenfarclas Famiy Cask I tried at Kensington Wine Market in Calgary, which came in at 56.3% ABV. It definitely makes the 15yo look flat-out boring in comparison. Neat, the nose is powerful, but not too spiritous—mostly a bowl of mixed nuts, brown sugar and sherry, all in beautiful balance. On the palate, the ’97 FC hits you like a ton of bricks, but they are delicious bricks. Mouth-coating, creamy, with sherry, raisins, brown sugar, nuts, and a whole fruit-bowl, just… just everything you could want in a Speyside, and all in turn. I had about 10 minutes to try it, so the notes were never clear enough in my head to write even a review stub, but man was it good. In hindsight, I should have bought the bottle, as it was only about $20 more expensive there than the 15yo is here. Sadly, it was limited edition, too, and it’s gone. My rational originally was “Oh, I have too many Speysiders at the moment”, and I’ve regretted rationalizing my way out of that bottle. To those that have found their way to this post searching for thoughts on the Family Cask series, the 14yo ’97 Family Cask is a solid A.

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