stats: single malt scotch, Speyside, 86 proof, $36
After writing about the 25yr Glenfarclas, I was fortunate enough to have a friend offer to loan me her bottle of 12yr Glenfarclas (in exchange for a wee taste of the 25yr, of course). I've tasted the 12yr before and was quite fond of it, but that was at least a year ago. A direct comparison is definitely in order. A few weeks ago, I mentioned recalling that there was very little difference between 12yr Chivas Regal and 18yr Chivas Regal, I'm quite curious to see if that is the case here.
The nose on the 12yr is pronounced and dense with a sweet, malty, biscuit-like quality. On the palate it has great structure - plenty of backbone for its proof. It is fairly viscous, with a sweet, malty core which is nicely tempered by the spicy oak notes. Across their age range, Glenfarclas whiskies are aged almost exclusively in Sherry barrels. The Sherry influence is there, but does not dominate. Rather, it adds another layer to the balanced complexity. The finish is long and warming. It actually seems somewhat similar to the 12yr Chivas that I'm so fond of.
When comparing the 12yr and the 25yr, it is obvious they are cut from the same mold. However, there are some not-so-subtle differences. The color is almost identical between the two. The nose is similar, but the 12yr smells richer, with a more obvious butterscotch-like sweetness. On the palate, that sweetness becomes the biggest difference. The 25yr is much drier up front, but they both give way to a long, spicy finish. I would describe the 12yr as bold and youthful (in a good way) and the 25yr as more elegant and refined.
These are both great whiskies. If I were to score them on a 100 point scale (something I don't really feel I'm qualified to do), they would likely be within a few points of each other. Each is a great value for the age statement it carries. If you are new to Glenfarclas or looking for a great single malt at a very reasonable price, I would go for the 12yr. If you are enamored with the brand and want to explore it further, or if you want to experience an older Scotch without breaking the bank, the 25yr is well worth seeking out.