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