So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Glenfarclas 40yo vs 47yo 1966 Fino #4194, 4195, 4197 vs 1969/1989 Signatory Vintage #52-54

A trio of vintage Glenfarclas: An well aged official, then an even older one from the premium Family Casks range, and finally a youngish but long bottled independent. Sounds about right.



If you’re unfamiliar with Glenfarclas, its the slightly outdated looking dumpy bottle with the simple pale paper label and a slanting red scribble that spells Glenfarclas. Erring on the side of tradition is good for the whisky inside though, as Glenfarclas still places a high reliance on good quality sherry casks. You can tell this immediately from the quality of the sherried component for their core range. Even better yet the best of the aging casks are often bottled as single casks under the Family Casks range. Combined with the fact it hasn’t got the market penetration of Macallan and therefore cannot charge as much, means the consumer has access to some very well aged first fill sherry casks at very decent prices.

Did I mention a bit outdated? Look at its visitor centre:


Also the visitor centre has a potstill from the old Links Distillery installed for display:


There’s good reason for Glenfarclas’ dislodgement in time. It remains family owned since the Pattison Crash circa 1900, and having since prospered doing things the Glenfarclas way, they remain thankfully oblivious to modern trends or production methods. So the stills, largest in speyside, are direct heated. The whisky is matured on the grounds of the distillery in 30+ warehouses. And good quality sherry casks are by far the predominant cask type used.


Glenfarclas 40 yo official ~ 2012 46%


Nose Nose: What should one expect from 40yo whisky? And at 46%? Ok a lot of sherry casks went into this, and indeed it is very refined and very smooth, but it is also very ‘blended’ and very very reserved. The smell you get when you open a packet of chocolate covered raisin, without actually eating one. And a just emptied glass of oloroso – rich dry aromatic but echos rather than a velvet fist. You can feel the wood influence a notch over the spirit. Glenfarclas’ spirit is no longer a gutsy brawler but a rounded soft thing luxuriating in a corner. Still has a herbaceous-vegetal tang though.

Taste Palate: The spirit’s no slouch at all, real grippy. It very quickly dominates, pushing the sherry out of the way, but its thankfully rounded and smooth, though somewhat vacant. Some eucalyptus and peppery heat. The prune-y milk chocolate sherry comes back eventually as the finish approaches. This is exactly what I imagine an old old grain in 4th refill sherry cask would taste.

Finish Finish: Long but subdued, hints of bygone purple fruit, oak tannins.


Leaves me with the distinct impression it could have been better if all those family casks went into the vat instead. This is good whisky yes, but missing a certain je ne sais quoi. They sold the best and blended the rest? Can’t be helped I suppose.


Glenfarclas 47yo 1966 Fino Casks # 4194, 4195, 4197 50.5%

Glenfarclas 47

Nose Nose: This one is famous. The fino is very different, instead of the a aromatic red richness, this one is much more dry, less overtly rich and more mellow-savoury: Something a bit toasty-bready and yeasty, golden raisins, the pollen of some yellow flower, sour-sweet apricot jam, pale honey. Eggy custard.The spirit is really quite thick and massy, with some of that herbaceous-vegetal-ness to it as well. Smoked ham? Very interesting and very different from oloroso or pedro ximenez.

Taste Palate: Magnificent. An example of big flavour arriving with big spirit and sitting squarely on the tongue. Though it must be strange if you have not had a fino whisky before. Its cutting, with a big pleasant bitter-acidic pineapple-something-jam-something. Its vaguely sweet-sour, boiled lemon in honey water. Side of tonic water. Pale sweetness of golden raisins again. Gutsy Glenfarclas spirit holds up the whole thing. Sure is very complex and truly difficult to taste.

Finish Finish: Long, and still something between sour and sweet. And always has this herbal oregano like buzz.


Fantastic. 47 years and not a hint of slowing down.



Glenfarclas 1969/1989 Signatory Vintage dumpy #52-54 58.2%

Glenfarclas 1969

Nose Nose: So classic I don’t have to repeat it: Heavy dry rich red oloroso aromatics. More on the richer sweeter cocoa and dried fruit notes than metal polish and tar, and so a rather modern kind of sherry as well. Glenfarclas does so well in these casks. The raw spirit is indefatigable, and rather forward too, this is only a 20 year old after all. Has it really been in the bottle since 1989?

Taste Palate: This isn’t Mortlach? Very beastly. Charred gristle and burnt roast. Sulphur without being sulphury. Overcooked plum pie. Very big, very savoury, big grip, dry sherry. Not a hint of sweetness till long after the initial entry.

Finish Finish: Long, wood makes a comeback, bitter bark, some tar.



A bit too brutal for some I think, but I love it. Could do with a bit more development.

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This entry was posted on January 28, 2016 by in Glenfarclas and tagged .
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