We’ve always been impressed with the incredible value to be found in one of perhaps the most underrated Speyside distilleries, Glenfarclas. Throughout our years exploring the brand, this impressive single malt has shown it can deliver, be it a young or old expression, cask strength or modest proof. Despite our appreciation, it’s taken us entirely too long to explore some of the older bottlings in the aged range. The tip top of the line, an exceptional 40-year-old, was examined over a decade ago, but since that time, we haven’t ventured beyond the 17-year-old offering. Today, we begin to remedy that with a look at this 21 year old. Like every whisky in the Glenfarclas core lineup, this single malt has been 100% sherry aged in a combination of oloroso and fino sherry casks. Let’s give it a go, shall we?
The nose shows a delicate sherry character, not as bold or ripe as the 17-year-old, but instead more polished, more cohesive, and silkier with baked apple, marzipan, and honeyed malts all elevated by an earthy, oak-driven spice. The palate is oily and light with a subtle creaminess, dominated by that classic sweet and savory malt character — a biscuits and marmalade quality — so common with Glenfarclas. Complexity builds, however, if given time to breathe, and as I revisit this one, I get more of the sherry aging that was so well-integrated into the aroma. Traces of orange oil, candied walnuts, dark berry compote, and cinnamon stick add additional layers to the rich, honeyed base. The finish is surprisingly generous with fading notes of spiced apples, vanilla fudge, and a slightly smoky kiss of cigar wrapper. We’ve definitely traded some vibrance for balance in the four year leap from the 17-year-old, but it’s well worth the sacrifice.