Today we're reviewing our first duo of Glenfarclas Family Casks.
Glenfarclas Family Cask 2003 18yo Cask #1970
Cask #1970 was distilled in 2003 and matured for 18 years in a 4th fill sherry butt before being bottled 27th July 2022.
Quite malty up front, white pepper, caramelised white chocolate, barley sugars, ground ginger and vanilla syrup. It's also got some warehouse must and rich tea biscuits coming through. There's a fair amount of alcohol on the nose. We're not really detecting much sherry influence if any at all, there's a little prune and a touch of cinnamon there if you search hard enough for it. Time and air does start to open the nose up, bringing brioche loaf, fondant icing and some red apple freshness to the nose.
The palate is bold up front, zesty lime and green apple sourness follows quickly into dark cocoa, toffee and a herbal, rosemary like flavour. The mouthfeel is really good up front, but seems to peter off quite quickly, however the finish does last a good amount of time with Caramac bars, oak tannins and roasted hazelnuts. As we let it sit in the glass, we start to get some honey, macadamia nuts and a little burnt caramel coming through.
Nose (with water)
Reduction brings more earthy, oaky aromas to the fore, sandalwood, wet grass alongside a touch of red fruit, strawberries and black pepper. A lot of the sweeter, vanilla and white chocolate aromas seem to have receded far into the background.
Palate (with water)
The reduced palate has more orchard fruits up front, lots of apples and pears with more of the citrus appearing too. The mouthfeel doesn't really improve too much, but some of the rougher, drier flavours towards the finish are replaced with sweeter vanilla and white chocolate.
We're a little torn here. The nose is quite lovely (although not particularly sherry forward, but it is 4th fill after all), however the palate is a bit of a letdown. The mouthfeel begins big and bold, but disappears incredibly quickly, and you're left with dry oak. Water helps a little, but at £300 we had pretty high expectations and unfortunately this doesn't live up to them
Glenfarclas Family Cask 2004 17yo Cask #2384
Cask #2384 was distilled in 2004 and matured for 17 years in a 1st fill sherry butt before being bottled 27th July 2022.
Unexpectedly herbal, eucalyptus, crushed mint leaves, moving into macerated cherries, fresh strawberry, maple syrup and muscovado sugar. It's rich and syrupy, with cinnamon, dates and a little leather towards the latter part of the nose. It's not overly sweet, it's got good balance with some of the more tannic aromas counterbalancing the sweeter dried fruits. The alcohol also doesn't overpower the nose, but there is a touch of white pepper spice coming through if you get deep into the glass.
The palate is oily and sweet, maple glazed cinnamon buns, chocolate eclairs, candied orange rind moving into a drier, ginger spice and leather-led finish. There's also a lot of red fruits, fresh raspberries, currants and raisins as the palate develops. As we leave it in the glass, we're starting to find walnuts, iced coffee and charred oak appearing, definitely drier on the latter part of the palate.
Nose (with water)
The reduced nose has a lot more fruit up front, both fresh and dried. Lots of sultanas, cherries, strawberries and dates. A lot of those initial herbal aromas have been lost (which isn't too big of a loss in our opinion), but it does retain some of the drier, tannic aromas as the dram develops.
Palate (with water)
The palate gets a little sweeter up front, similar to the reduced nose, with more of the dried fruits and cinnamon sugar doughnuts. We're also starting to find some clove on the latter palate, along with a spicier ginger/black pepper flavour coming through on the finish. The finish feels slightly shorter with water, however the oily mouthfeel remains.
A well aged, complex dram that's got a good balance between the richer, sweeter and drier, nuttier aspects of sherry maturation. It's a dram that really develops over time, both in the glass and on the palate. These family casks are not cheap, so we have to take into account the price for a 17 year old whisky, so we'll go with 7.5/10.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.