On the rare occasion that I host a whisky tasting for people that don’t already know a lot about whisky, I have my own way of approaching such an event. Whereas a lot of people do a ‘tour of Scotland’ by hitting all the regions I believe other parameters should be important instead of geography.
Especially since the world has changed over the last 20 or so years. When I started drinking whisky, you had fruity Speysiders, grassy Lowlanders, spicy Highlanders and smoky whisky from Islay. Campbeltown always the odd one out, in regional flavors that were categorizable in that way.
But, with Rosebank not being available the Lowlands got a bit thin in regards to their typical flavors. A lot of Speyside distilleries started creating smoky whiskies.
My approach is more centered at what you actually find on the label and how that translated to what you find in the bottle, and in your glass after that.
So, how does an 8 year old Glenfarclas compare to a 25 year old? How does a sherry cask matured Arran compared to a bourbon cask matured one? How does smoky whisky compared to unpeated whisky from the same distillery (hello again, BenRiach)?
When I hosted the first tasting at the job I currently have, this was exactly what I did. And therefor I can now review a Glenfarclas 25, since my ‘fee’ was to be able to take home what was left over. That sounded quite fair with about 22 people in the tasting. Unfortunately, in many case without notice, 13 people didn’t show up. And yes, this makes me reconsider hosting whisky tastings at work.
Gentle with lots of dried fruit. Quite some oak and barley, so the cask wasn’t too overpowering. Some baking spices too. Very classical, very much a benchmark.
It’s surprisingly syrupy for a not cask strength whisky. A little bit of bite, and a bit more dryness than I expected. Sawdust, grist, oak and barley. Some dried fruits, peaches and apricots. A hint of powdery baking spices.
The finish is, not entirely surprising, very similar to the palate. There is a note of lemon that I didn’t get before.
This is one of those whiskies that is a benchmark. Not because it sets the bar spectacularly high or so, but because it is a very solid whisky without any gimmicks. There is nothing that feels out of place and is more or less an indication of what a 25 year old single malt should taste like, at least.
Glenfarclas did what they do best with this one. Giving us a friendly, accessible whisky that is well made and well matured in quality casks. As always I quite enjoyed drinking this, even though the price has more than doubled in the last decade or so.