I’m down to the heel of the bottle, better take some notes. I’d never seen an 18yo Glenfarclas before and £50 for a litre sounded too good to miss. Life at sea huh? Initially travel retail only, I think by now, it may be part of the Glenfarclas core range.
N: With a fragrant light fruitiness, it’s softer than the Glenfarclas 10yo [that follows] and slightly more crisp than contemporary Glenmorangie 10yo [review coming soon]. Be assured, this is certainly not very Glenfarclas-y. Descriptors speak of freshly cut apples & oranges, firm-yet-ripe pears, husky peach > sweet-grapefruit & a hint of pineapple – in ripe juice form – as well as pear/apple/banana bread. Joining the fruitiness are floral qualities: honeysuckle, rose,… potent little sweet-scented white flowers [what are they,…?],.. jasmine I think. Weirdly, I also get smeared set honey drying on paper plates, oh and peppered radish with a touch of muscovado sugar [one for the cookbook]. Simplified, think: light-peppery rum-like, lightly aged fruity=bready distillate. All fine, but not at all sherry-matured to my palate, an important part of the defining signature of Glenfarclas, no?
T: Bready,… hemp-like with a lightly aromatic-fruity~floral sour~> savoury=sweet waxy astringency, the fruitiness providing moisture/texture over the flavour that is buried/consolidated/dissipated/baked[/aged] into a bready putty mash. Also expect a basic [column-still] rum-like booziness [Serge’s ‘Havana Club’ note is mind-blowingly accurate]. Towards the turn, let’s put a few waxy > buttery sour-savoury raisin tannins in the mix [the first sherried hint, but a hint is all I get].
F: Bready, floury > chalky-sour yet also a tad [floral~raisin-y] waxy, eventually settling for lucid barley juice with a commendable balance that is established by the finish though a troubling congealed oiliness at the death spoils those middling pleasantries. Hard to believe this is 100% sherry-matured whisky, as much as it’s hard to believe I’m not detecting underlying bourbon cask maturation. Some investigation ensued. I queried this apparent absence of sherry cask influence on Whiskybase. WB administrator Schmausel contacted the distillery and got this reply:
‘All Glenfarclas is produced from ex Oloroso Sherry Casks, the 18yo for Travel Retail is no different. When the whisky is being bottled there will be a variety of 1st Fill (first time the cask has been filled with spirit) casks and 2nd/3rd/4th Fill ex Sherry casks. This will vary each time depending on the different qualities of the casks’. [With thanks to Schmausel].
C: I still find it hard to believe with the words in front of me. This un-Glenfarclas-y Glenfarclas certainly improved with two months of oxidisation. Overall, a fine if innocuous malt that I wouldn’t buy again. No bad whisky. Simply put: boring.