Glenfarclas 21 vs Auchentoshan Three Wood

September 7th, 2012

A little delayed, but the second round of Whisky Deathmatch is finally upon us.  A slight change of format here, I think, since we already discussed each contestant in detail the first time around, so I’ll just link back to that, summarise, consider whether my feelings have changed on continued sampling, and then get straight into the comparison.  Due to a slightly sore throat I’m going to leave the mouth-battering matchup of Ardbeg Corryvreckan vs Talisker 18 to another day, methinks, and begin with a slightly less bruising confrontation…

Auchentoshan Three Wood – 43% ABV, £37.95

Glenfarclas 21 – 43% ABV, £59.95

Auchentoshan Three Wood came out on top in a lowland battle against plucky independent Bladnoch 20.  I described it as, “Companionable Werthers Originals with a three-woody backbone … soft and creamy, sweeties, marmalade, then a woody backbone comes through at the end.  Easygoing.  Such pleasant, easy manners, like Mr. Bingley from Pride and Prejudice.  Makes a good impression, don’t he, Bingley, but it’s Darcy they remember …  a good breakfast whisky, perhaps.  Something to get you over the hump before elevenses.”

Glenfarclas 21 narrowly defeated fellow sherried Speyside Aberlour 18.  I was somewhat repulsed by the packaging but described the contents as, “immensely drinkable, rich and full-bodied, developing a gingery, almost a peppery spiciness then some smoke on the end and takes a long time getting there.  Big and long lasting, very classic feeling.  One thinks of panelled rooms, throaty laughter, pipe smoke and soft power.”

This is something of a mismatch in many ways, as the Auchentoshan is possibly the youngest and definitely the least expensive whisky among our dozen original contenders.  The Glenfarclas is the oldest and among the most expensive.  But this is Whisky Deathmatch, it isn’t about fair.  Compare we must.

Sampling these again and comparing the two I don’t feel there’s been much change in my feelings.  I’d say the Auchentoshan makes a very pleasant everyday drink – inexpensive, inoffensive, sweet but that woodiness does add a certain character.  It’s not bland.  In fact there may be a little too much wood.  Compared to the Glenfarclas it does seem rather rough around the edges.  The Glenfarclas is just so poised, so balanced, so sophisticated, so urbane and experienced, so classic and quintessentially smooooooth.  I’m finding it very hard to imagine the circumstances under which I’d reach for the Auchentoshan instead.  Perhaps to pour a drink for someone else…

The Winner – GLENFARCLAS 21

Posted in whisky deathmatch by Joe Abercrombie on September 7th, 2012.

10 comments so far

  • InsanityManatee says:

    Glad to see these are back. Though they do make me desire a drink at work. At 9 in the morning.

  • Jacob says:

    After reading these entires, I hereby demand the presence of a severely alcoholic character in the next book. I know Cosca was one in BSC, but I mean a fire breathing, jagged broken bottle wielding, menacing madman of a drunk using these at the behest of the well trained royal figures…and winning. Winning by drunken thrashing while pissing himself into slumber. Maybe even having him in a disguise, counted amongst the slain?

    We all know you can do it Joe. 😉

  • Jacob says:

    Also, do you freelance on articles such as these? They are a good mixture of subjectivity and objective stance, well-worded, and provide good background information. Not to mention the wording is very down to earth and comes off without the typical snobbery of a reviewer, which is a plus in my eyes.

  • Whiskeyjack says:

    Pfffffffhhhhhh. Whisky Smishky.

  • AntMac says:

    Joe pours some Auchentoshan for a guest, looks into his empty glass and says “Oh, I will just step into the kicthen and wipe this out”

    Comes back with a full glass of Glenfarclas, hopes the guest doesn’t notice.


  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    They are, for the moment, only available right here.

    That’s pretty much the idea. Sadly, the Auchentoshan is a much deeper colour which would make it difficult to pass them off as the same. But I’d probably do it more along the lines of, ‘Oh, let me go into the next room and pour us two glasses of EXACTLY THE SAME WHISKY.’

  • Thaddeus says:

    Surely you drink whisky in a darkly lit room fitted with wooden panels and decorated with portraits of your ancestors whilst wearing a smoking jacket and a fez?

    In this situations a chap won’t have the illumination to tell the difference.

  • sensual sharting says:

    Is that a high chair in the background?!?

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Yes. That’s where my son drinks his whisky.

  • Dan Cook says:

    Mr Abercrombie,

    I am not sure if this video has been brought to your attention, if not I highly recommend a quick viewing.
    How to drink whisky like a sir:

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