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Glenfarclas 25 Year Old

Review: Glenfarclas 25 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky  88/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on February 09, 2013

This review continues my examinations of the Glenfarclas Single Malt line-up. I have previously reviewed the Glenfarclas 12 Year, the Glenfarclas 15 Year, the Glenfarclas 17 Year, the Glenfarclas 21 Year, the Glenfarclas 30 Year, the Glenfarclas 40 Year, and the Glenfarclas Cask Strength 105. These whiskies have been matured in two styles of oak barrels, plain oak barrels which have previously contained Bourbon or Scotch whisky, and Spanish oak barrels which have previously contained Oloroso or Fino Sherry from Seville. The whisky is then stored in traditional ‘dunnage’ warehouses that date from the late 1800s. These warehouses have thick stone walls and earthen floors.

The Glenfarclas 25 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky which is the subject of this review has been bottled at 43 % and is produced from aged stocks of both first fill sherry casks and refill bourbon casks.

Pacific Wine & Spirits Inc has facilitated my reviews of by inviting me to a tasting event hosted by George Grant, the Sales Director for the Glenfarclas Distillery. Mr. Grant is part of the 6th generation of the Grant Family who originally purchased the distillery in 1865. His family still controls and manages the distillery today. This review was compiled based upon my tasting notes at the event, and subsequent re-visitations to the whisky.

In the Bottle  4/5

We are firmly in the high end of the range for the Glenfarclas Single Malt whisky, yet the basic presentation for the  Glenfarclas 25 Year Old Whisky is pretty much the same as it is for the whiskies in the lower range. This disappoints me, as when I am spending over $150.00 on a bottle of whisky, I want to be wowed by the look of the bottle. Having, said that . Having said that, I should point out that the Glenfarclas 25 Year Old is much less expensive than other 25 Year Old distillery bottlings I have seen on the shelves at my local liquor store. So it appears that the company is passing the savings of this decision on to the consumer.

I do wish there was a little information on the label or on the cardboard sleeve which gave the consumer an indication of the taste profile of the whisky. This is because we are beyond the point where the cost of the whisky is within easy reach of most consumers. I believe those potential customers who might be considering this whisky for a special occasion should be allowed to have just a bit of information regarding the taste profile before he or she plops down their hard earned bucks to buy it.

In the Glass  9/10

The colour of the 25 Year Old Whisky in the glass is a nice dark coppery brown. The initial aromas include the rich sherry smells of dried fruit, some floral accents of heather and willow, and hints of orange peel. The oak is asserting itself into the whisky much more firmly than in the younger expressions, and although I have been told that there is no peated barley used in the production of Glenfarclas whisky, I nevertheless sense a little boggy saw-grass and muddy creek bottom in the air above the glass.

As I let the glass breathe, I sense roasted pecans, rich chocolate and aromatic baking spices (vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon). And, although I may be imagining it, I also receive impressions of Apricot Brandy and canned pears flickering in and out of my sensory range.

In the Mouth  53/60

The whisky enters the palate with a light peppery bite that heats up the tongue and is quickly followed by smoky sherry flavours of raisins and dates. There is an bit of a lowland meadow in the whisky with flavours of heather and willow bark which have an underlying essence of organic peat. As you chew through the whisky, a caramel sweetness begins to build as do flavours of bittersweet chocolate and walnut.

As I sip, the whisky continues to be lightly spicy as ginger, nutmeg, hints of cinnamon and a light touch of cloves seem to materialize out of the oak spices. There are also indications of canned fruit (apricots and pears) which add fullness to the whisky. Finally, but certainly not the least of the flavour sensations, is the underlying oak flavour which has become firmly melded into whisky. In fact, it is this oakiness which separates the 25 Year Old from the younger whiskies of the Glenfarclas Range. Oak has asserted itself firmly into both the aroma and the flavour making the whisky very reminiscent of aged brandy or cognac.

In The Throat  13/15

The Glenfarclas 25 Year Old has a long somewhat dry finish filled with lightly bitter chocolate and spicy oak. The finish puckers the mouth slightly, but also makes the palate very receptive to another dram of whisky.

The Afterburn  9/10

So far, as I have climbed the ladder of the Glenfarclas family, I have been impressed by how each whiskhy has added something new to the table, while still remaining true to the Glenfarclas flavour profile. What the 25 Year Old adds to the table is a firm oak presence. Yet I would not call the whisky ‘oaky’. The oak is more of a stage upon which the other flavours perform their dance. And in my opinion, the dance is well worth the price if admission.


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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