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Glenfarclas 30 Year Old

Review: Glenfarclas 30 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky  94/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on April 26 , 2012

This review continues my series of examinations of the Glenfarclas Single Malt line-up. I have previously reviewed the Glenfarclas 12 Year, the Glenfarclas 21 Year, and the Glenfarclas Cask Strength 105. These reviews have been facilitated by Pacific Wine & Spirits Inc who have provided samples for me to assess, and who kindly invited me to a tasting event hosted by George Grant, the Sales Director for the Glenfarclas Distillery where I was able to sample the entire core range of Glenfarclas Whisky. 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.

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 barrels are stored in traditional ‘dunnage’ warehouses which date from the late 1800s. The Glenfarclas 30 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky which is the subject of this review has been bottled at 43 % and is produced from both first fill sherry casks and refill bourbon casks.

In the Bottle 4/5

We are firmly in the high-end of the range for the Glenfarclas Single Malt whiskies, yet the basic presentation for the  Glenfarclas 30 Year Old Whisky is pretty much the same as it gas been throughout the range. This disappoints me as when I am spending over $200.00 on a bottle of whisky, I want to be wowed by the look of the bottle as well as by the whisky. Having, said that, I must point out that the Glenfarclas 30 Year Old is much less expensive than other 30 Year Old distillery bottlings I have seen on the shelves at my local liquor store. Thus, it appears that the company is passing the savings of this decision on to the consumer.

Another niggle I have with the presentation is that I 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 given at least some information regarding the taste profile of the whisky before he or she spends their hard-earned money.

I realize this sort of tasting information is available on the Glenfarclas website which has good tasting notes for their entire core range of whisky. However not everybody is internet savvy, and I think it would be helpful if these tasting notes were included on the cardboard sleeve that houses the whisky.

In the Glass 9.5/10

I am cautious with well aged whiskies. I have purchased more than a few, but when I do I always go to a store which has some open bottles for me to taste. Many of the whiskies which I sample have turned bitter with age, and the cost of the whisky has much more to do with the prestige of the bottle than with its overall taste and quality. At that tasting event (which I spoke of earlier) where I was able to sample the Glenfarclas Whisky range, I immediately realized that the Glenfarclas 30 Year Old did not follow this pattern when I brought the glass to my nose. This whisky is rich and luxurious on the nose. Chocolate, coffee, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cardamom and wonderful oak spices all rise up in a veritable bouquet for the nostrils. The whisky show its age in the glass but it also shows its character with a complex oakiness which is almost perfectly melded into the 30-year-old sherried whisky.

In the Mouth 57/60

The nose of the whisky had my mouth-watering, and the taste of the whisky did not disappoint. This whisky oozes fudgy chocolate and dark Christmas cake full of fruity goodness. It is a little spicy as well as I taste rich baking spices tinged with allspice and ginger. But it is also full of dry fruit (raisins and dates), bittersweet chocolate, and espresso coffee. The melding of the whisky and the wood has been done with skilful craftsmanship.

As I let my glass sit, lovely ribbons of orange marmalade and soft caramel flavours take form within all this goodness. My feeling is that this whisky must certainly be amongst the best I have ever tasted.

In the Throat 14/15

The finish is full of Christmas fruit cake, bittersweet chocolate, and dark fruit flavours which coat the palate and the throat in a long chocolate filled finish. Bits of warm spiciness linger and my sample glass empties much quicker than it should each time I indulge.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

As I said earlier, I approach well aged whiskies with caution. I have been fooled before by the promise of velvety richness which fails to materialize in the glass, or worse yet a whisky which has turned bitter with age and can no longer sustain its character and balance. We have the opposite here, the Glenfarclas 30 Year Old Whisky is lush with complex flavours and goodness. The sweetness of the whisky is complemented beautifully by a light bitterness of chocolate and the entire experience from nose to mouth to throat is very easy to enjoy.

This is a very well-crafted whisky!

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


As usual, 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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