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Cigar Spirits: Glenfarclas 17 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

23 Apr 2015

April marks the end of scotch season for me. (I’m a seasonal drinker: Single malts and the occasional cognac in the colder months, rum and tequila/mezcal when it warms up. Bourbon and rye year-round, of course.) So lets wrap up the season with with this Glenfarclas 17-year-old single malt whisky.

Glenfarclas-17SMGlanfarclas is an independent distillery, owned by the same family for 150 years. It’s a Speyside distillery that makes a range of single malts, with 10-year and 17-year the most readily available, at least here in the States. They also bottle a 105 cask-strength variety, of which I’m a big fan.

The Glenfarclas 17 is bottled at 86-proof and sells for around $100 a bottle. It’s a light golden color. (Note that because single malts can have caramel coloring added, color doesn’t mean as much for scotch as it does for straight bourbon or rye, and a light color may only mean coloring wasn’t used.

The nose with sweet toffee and pear serves as a preview of the subtle, classic style of this whiskey. The Glenfarclas 17 coats the palate with a rich combination of creaminess, sherried fruit, orange peel, toffee, and clove. There’s a bit of smokiness and just a wisp of peat. The finish is light with oak and brown sugar.

I’m just guessing here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a combination of sherry cask and bourbon cask whisky, as the sherry is evident, but subtle. The whisky seems to grow in complexity as you drink it. It’s hard to suggest that Glenfarclas 17 is anything but delicious, subtle, and approachable.

For a cigar pairing, you’ll want a cigar that’s not so overpowering as to overwhelm the delicate aspects of this single malt. Go with a Fuente Chateau, Tatuaje BlackIllusione Epernay, or a well-aged Cuban Trinidad.

I’m not one to recommend turning a bourbon drinker into a scotch drinker, as you’ll always find better value in American whiskey, but for bourbon drinkers branching out into single malt, Glenfarclas is an excellent place to start. That said, before you buy this, try the 10-year, which is also excellent but only half the price. But if you like the 10-year and want to see the complexity that additional age can add, I very much recommend Glenfarclas 17, even if my own preference is slightly for the cask-strength 105 variety.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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