This Glenfarclas was initially matured in ex-bourbon, but spent the last year of its maturation in a 2nd fill PX hogshead.
Nose: Sofa, old car seats, jackets – all of the leather you could imagine. This opens unfathomably deep. Molasses are subdued – sweetness, but intensely compacted – and are joined by chocolate-dipped walnuts, orange peels and dusty cinnamon. Cigar boxes and shed workbenches sit with lacquered wood panelling (rosewood and cedar), whilst clove-studded ham, pine cones and leaf mulch are perked up by balsamic sharpness and sweetness. The addition of water adds a gravy-like meatiness with plenty of dark chocolate and dusty oak.
Taste: The arrival is juicy rather than viscous, but it still packs plenty of dark punch. Stewed plums, dried apricots, rum-soaked raisins, dark chocolate cask and ginger spicing. Leather appears once again in the mid-palate – old, cracked, well-worn – alongside chopped almonds, tobacco tin and a sweet, moist mushroom earthiness. The it’s into cask spiciness with cinnamon and charred staves. Reduction generates a serious wow – what was once dark shall now be illuminated – hedgerow berries, pineapple, lychee and bright plump plums. Vibrant, vivacious and immeasurably brighter in character.
Finish: Long with lingering cinnamon, clove and nutmeg sitting with dark an intense high cocoa solid chocolate.
This Glenfarclas starts off challenging and brooding. The sweetness here is compressed, compacted and intense – and its only through the addition of water does the underlying fruitiness of the spice come to the fore. Both versions are well worth exploring – sometimes the occasion calls for something dark and concentrated. But, it’s the reduced version which really gets the heart pounding – and earns this several additional points. Recommended.