Glenfarclas Dark Oloroso Cask, 1980-2002, 21yo, 53%

Every couple of years something strange happens in The Netherlands. For some reason, from some warehouse, a pallet of whisky pops up that everyone had forgotten about. A couple of years ago (I think it was 2008) it was Brora 30 year old from 2004 (You know, the best one). This year it was this Glenfarclas bottled in 2002.

What’s even stranger, is that the bottles always go to the same set of shops and they are sold at relatively low prices. Back in the day that Brora went for € 175, when the more contemporary versions already were way over € 300. This Glenfarclas went for € 125.

It’s a lot of money for a bit of booze, sure, but compared to where whisky prices are going for NAS bottlings, other vintages and especially rare, limited stuff like this, it’s a steal.

Now I do like Glenfarclas. Especially older ones at higher ABVs and even more so when they’re dark. As the name suggests, this one is dark. Very dark. My interest in this bottle peaked. I bottle-shared it, since my wallet was objecting to me getting a whole bottle and with such a rarity the bottle-share filled up in about 10 minutes. I wanted to get another bottle but they were gone by then. Things were going fast!

Glenfarclas Dark Oloroso 1980

Glenfarclas Dark Oloroso 1980

Lots of powerful sherry (no surprise), oak and a dryness that you wouldn’t expect from PX (if you’d taste blind and only had the colour). It’s different from what I expected. Dates, dried plums, some raisins and even a hint of smoke. It has some light hints of brimstone and is slightly bitter. Even a bit of sulphur, but in a good way.

Sweeter than the nose made me expect, but the bitterness lingers here too. Oak, star fruit, dates, raisins and raisin twigs. The star fruit combined with the richer stuff is surprising but far from bad. After all this I get loads of pepper and a certain burnt dryness. Also some oily notes.

The finish focuses heavily on the sherry again. It’s sharp and hot in your throat. Dry with bitter oak. It lasts long and stays heavy.

Lovely, but you have to like all this bitterness going on. It’s a very complex dram with loads of flavours which, individually, you could call an off note, but in this case they work very well. It’s not my favourite Glenfarclas, but it’s up there with them.

But, in the end, it is a bit of a strange one. Nothing world changing is happening with this dram, although I dare to say I never had anything like this before. Especially not from Glenfarclas. There are loads of flavour, there are layers, there’s lots to discover. But, it does focus more on being interesting than being utterly delicious.

A strange thing is happening, which has happened before. While I was drinking it I was rather critical of this drink’s merits, but now it’s gone (I gave the last bit to my father in law) I feel I should have spent more time with it. I bet there was more to discover.

So, all in all, a top dram!

Glenfarclas Dark Oloroso Cask, 1980-2002, 21yo, 53%. It was available in The Netherlands a couple of months ago for € 125 or so.

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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