Glenfarclas 40 year old debuted at the Spirit of Speyside festival in 2010 and has become a firm favourite with whisky reviewers, generating some impressive scores, as well as winning numerous industry awards. Bottled at the higher ABV of 46% (the only other in the range at this % being the 15 year old).
The 40 year old is the pinnacle of the distillery’s core range of age statement whiskies. Pleasingly, and as opposed to many new longer-aged bottlings, it’s still very much a drinking whisky rather than a collector’s item featuring overly ornate packaging and fancy branding. It is rumoured that the bottling was released due to the abundant stocks of aged whisky that Glenfarclas was holding in their warehouses – some of which were losing strength due to their many decades maturing in cask. Nevertheless, this expression remains a very welcome addition to the distillery’s range and a whisky that should be on everyone’s ‘must try’ list.
Nose: Furniture polish on antique leather covered furniture. My this doesn’t hold back on displaying its age. Old woods and lacquers are immediate, as are the aromas of dark chocolate and espresso coffee. There’s a menagerie of fruits – dried berries, raisins, currants, sultanas, prunes and a wide spread of marmalades and preserves. A light herbalness travels throughout the nose conjuring up both pine and tree saps along with a delicate touch of rancio. Stunning.
Taste: A superlative arrival delivering excellent mouth-feel and immediacy of flavour. Wood spice is right at the fore now – pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, along with some real nuttiness from hazelnut. Aged flavours of polish, cracked leather and smouldering tobacco are still present giving away once again the providence of this whisky. Fruits are still dried, stewed and jammed, and are joined by a touch of balsamic vinegar and bitterness of oak. As it travels from the arrival through the front, mid and back palate, the whisky becomes steadily drying in a totally progressive manner.
Finish: Long, lingering and emphasising both spice and rich chocolate.
Glenfarclas 40 year old is quite simply superb and joins the ranks of the very best whiskies I’ve had the pleasure of trying. The combination of venerable sherry and spicy oak flavours marries perfectly into the fruitier notes for something which is stunningly balanced and yet still extremely vibrant. There’s barely a misstep here at all.
The 40 year old is still one of the very best value whiskies at its age on the market – whilst others distilleries will demand many times the price of this bottling for their 40 year old expressions, the Glenfarclas 40 year old remains a bastion of outstanding quality at an excellent price. This said, the cost has considerably increased over the past seven or so years, so, what was once a total no brainer now comes with slight strings attached. Still, at a little over £600 this remains the crown in Glenfarclas’s expansive core range.