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Glenfarclas 17 Year Old

Review: Glenfarclas 17 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky  88.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on August 29, 2013

The Glenfarclas Distillery is located on the Recherlich Farm at Ballindalloch in the heart of Speyside. The Distillery was purchased by the Grant Family in 1865, and it has remained in the control of the Grant Family for six generations up to the present day. In fact, Glenfarclas is one of only a few distilleries remaining in Scotland which is independently family owned and managed.

All of the Glenfarclas whisky is matured in two styles of oak barrels, plain oak barrels which have previously contained Bourbon or Scotch whisky, and Spanish oak which has previously contained Oloroso or Fino Sherry from Seville. The whisky is stored in traditional ‘dunnage’ warehouses that date from the late 1800s. These warehouses have thick stone walls and earth floors. The subject of this review, the Glenfarclas 17 Year Old Whisky is bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle  4.5/5

I like the whisky presentation of the Glenfarclas Whisky. I think the coppery orange coloured cardboard sleeve the whisky is housed in is fine, and I like the masculine shape of the Glenfarclas bottle with its corked top. I would prefer a little more information on the label with respect to the taste profile of the whisky. In my market there exists a great deal of angst amongst consumers when they are purchasing Scotch Whisky, and giving the potential consumer some indication of the flavour profile ahead of the purchase decision would be a good thing.

I have noticed that this kind of  information is available on the Glenfarclas website, included great tasting notes for the entire range of their whisky. Perhaps these tasting notes could have been included on the cardboard sleeve that houses the whisky.

In the Glass  8.5/10

The Glenfarclas 17 year Old Whisky, according to George Grant, contains no artificial colour to enhance its appearance. This means that the colour of the whisky from batch to batch will vary slightly. The whisky in my glass is a nice copper colour, perhaps just a bit lighter in colour than the previously reviewed Glenfarclas 15 Year Old. When I tilted and swirled my glass I noticed it imparted a rather thickish oily sheen on the inside of my glass which refused to give up its legs. The whisky certainly has a richer consistency than other whiskies of similar age which I have reviewed to this point.

The nose is of the 17-year-old is rather subdued when compared to the 15-year-old. The scents and smells of the two whiskies are very similar, but it is as if these scents and smells are buried deeper into the whisky and must be coaxed out of the 17. Dried fruit (raisins, dates, and plums) leads  of the glass out with a subtle accent of dark chocolate and perhaps a touch of coffee. Toffee and vanilla scents waft upwards, and mild baking spiced begin to build. There also appears to be vague sort of nuttiness in the breezes.  I like the aroma, but its does not have the power and intensity of the other whiskies in the Glenfarclas Line-up.

In the Mouth 53.5/60

The 17 Year Old Whisky enters the palate with nice mellow wood spices which have combined or melded with the smooth sherry flavours which are full of bittersweet dark chocolate and dried fruit. The vanilla is more obvious in this whisky than in the younger expressions, as is a nice nutty lightly bitter walnut flavour which sits underneath. Normally I do not like bitterness, but in the case of the Glenfarclas 17, there is a nice bit of Demerara sweetness which compliments the light bitterness, and the result is quite nice. In fact, this whisky has the feel of a nice aged rum in the way that the brown sugar flavours melt into the oak and the walnut flavours.

The differences between the 17 Year Old expression and the previously reviewed 15 Year Old expression seem to be more of a difference in style than in flavour. Whereas the Glenfarclas 15 is aggressive and challenging, the Glenfarclas 17 is smoother and more elegant. It is difficult for me to say which is better, although if you check my scores carefully you can ascertain that I do a slight preference in this case towards the more aggressive whisky.

In the Throat 13/15

The 17 Year Old has a long exit full of the rich sherry flavours and dried fruit.  Espresso coffee and dark chocolate leave their imprints upon my throat and baking spices linger. Perhaps I am tasting just a hint of maple on the back of the palate after the last swallow leaves my glass.

The Afterburn 9/10

The Glenfarclas 17 Year Old Whisky is a soft, friendly expression of Glenfarclas Whisky. It is perhaps more heavily Sherried than the younger Glenfarclas whiskies I have reviewed, and it carries a smoother taste profile right through to the finish. If as I said in y previous review, the Glenfarclas 15 Year Old is a “Whisky Drinkers Whisky“, then I would say that the Glenfarclas 17 Year Old is more of a “Connoisseurs Whisky“. It is meant for late evenings by the fireplace perhaps with your favourite cigar, or perhaps even better, with some nice dark bittersweet chocolate.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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