I as continue to learn more about whisky this week I quiz Matt on the Glenfarclas 10 Year Old…
Watson: Glenfarclas is a world famous distillery! Is there anything special / unique about it?
Matt: Indeed, Glenfarclas is well known and is extremely popular in the London shop and throughout The Whisky Shop estate. The distillery is almost unique in that it remains family owned, rather than being owned by one of the big multi national drinks companies. There are only a couple of other distilleries in this category – Springbank owned by the Mitchell’s, plus Glenfiddich and Balvenie which are owned by William Grant & Sons. Glenfarclas was opened in 1836 and was taken over by John Grant and his son George in 1865. The distillery has remained in the Grant family since then and they are currently on their sixth generation of whisky making. They have chosen not to sell to supermarket chains so specialists, like us at The Whisky Shop, are the only place where you can buy their highly awarded single malts.
Watson: This will be the youngest whisky I have tasted. Would there be a huge different in taste between the Glenfarclas 10 y/o to say the 15 y/o edition?
Matt: Glenfarclas is a great range of whiskies to try if you want to compare how age affects maturing single malt. The reason being is that they use ex-sherry casks throughout their range, and generally the same type of ex-sherry casks at that. This is unlike most other distilleries and brands, who may mix different types of casks together for different age statements. The Glenfarclas 10yo is their entry level single malt and shows all the classic ex-sherry cask maturation characteristics – sweet toffee, caramel, dried fruits, hints of orange and baking spice. The 15yo expression shows an increased depth, complexity and richness and you could probably guess that, as it has had five years extra in a similar cask. The 15yo has exaggerated notes compared to the 10yo, and this theme carries on and evolves as you go through the range and taste the 21, 25 and 30 year olds.
Watson: The tasting notes to this whisky are similar to the Dalmore 12 y/o yet the colour of the whisky is totally different how can this be?
Matt: The Dalmore is a particularly rich and sweet example of an ex-sherry cask matured whisky. In fact, it is one of the richest and sweetest malts that we stock in the shop. My guess is that the type of sherry casks used are different or that the casks may have been used for maturation more times. Nearly all of the colour that you see in a whisky has come from the cask, as new spirit is almost clear when it comes from the still. Different types of sherry cask will give a different shade of colour – something like Oloroso is a lighter style of sherry and will give a lighter colour like this Glenfarclas, while something like Pedro Ximinez sherry is much thicker, darker and more treacly and this will give a dark, sometimes almost black colour. Also, each time a cask is used it has less flavour and colour to contribute to the final whisky.
Watson: This is my second Speyside whisky should there be similarities to the benriach I tried a couple of weeks ago?
Matt: It is always interesting to compare whiskies from the same region and try to pick similarities. In the shop we often hear that someone like ‘just Speyside whiskies’ – this is difficult to define as of the 95 or so distilleries currently operating in Scotland, nearly half are in the Speyside region alone. Therefore, you have around 40+ distilleries all making different types of spirit in their different shaped and sized stills, and then maturing them in different types of casks for different lengths of time. From that, you can see how difficult it is to say that there is a definitive Speyside style. Having said that, I think that both the Benriach and Glenfarclas that we have tried are two excellent examples of what you can buy from the region and both are very soft, gentle, characterful and easy going. Both are excellent for a beginner as an introduction to what whisky should offer.
Matt: What do you think to this Glenfarclas Watson? Do you like it? What’s been your favourite whisky so far?
Watson: I have been looking forward to trying this one for a while and it didnt dissapoint! I definately got the fruitly taste on the palate and didnt feel the need to water it down like I did with one or two of the smokier whiskies! To answer your question I would say the Benriach has been my favourite so far! Thanks Matt!