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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

August 6, 2013



The Whiskyfun Anniversary Tastings
Five decades of Glenfarclas
(2002, 1990, 1980, 1970, 1969)

Everybody loves Glenfarclas – what’s not to like anyway? After the new 1953 that we had for WF’s 11th anniversary, we’ll have very different ones today, some heavily sherried or so it seems, and others lightly sherried. Or so it seems…

Glenfarclas 9 yo 2002/2011 (55.1%, OB, Kirchhellener Private Tasting Circle, casks #2655-2658, first fill oloroso, 677 bottles)

Glenfarclas 9 yo 2002/2011 (55.1%, OB, Kirchhellener Private Tasting Circle, casks #2655-2658, first fill oloroso, 677 bottles) Four stars 677 bottles! That’s a huge private tasting circle! ;-) Colour: amber. Nose: Glenfarclas is one of these whiskies that can be stunning at young age, provided there’s a good dose of sherry and not too many ‘kisrchy’ notes (not too much spirity roughness). Well that’s exactly what’s happening here, it’s a superb chocolaty, raisiny and christmascaky (S.!) nose, without any gunpowder/matches and rather great touches of old Demerara rum as well as a little tobacco and menthol. Unbeatable at 9yo. With water: water works very well. It doesn’t make it any more complex but I like these added wee touches of hevea (natural rubber) and soot a lot. Maybe also papayas? Papaya in Glenfarclas? Mouth (neat): sure this is a little more brutal and, partly, immature, and sure the liquorice from the wood is heavy, but this very thick style works well. Raisins marinated in marc and rum. A little kirsch indeed and also a slight acridness. Green coffee. With water: the tannins come out more. Blackcurrant and cinnamon, it gets pretty drying. Not too sure it likes water. Finish: long, very chocolaty. Green/drying aftertaste. Comments: brilliant nose, very good palate but it’s still a little rough and green. The sherry’s heavy. SGP:572 - 86 points.

Glenfarclas 1990/2011 'Family Casks' (57%, OB for TSMC Taiwan, cask #5098, 596 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1990/2011 'Family Casks' (57%, OB for TSMC Taiwan, cask #5098, 596 bottles) Five stars Colour: dark amber. Nose: a more polished version of the 2002 but we aren’t that far. Fantastic prunes, sultanas, dates and figs, plus many liqueurs and many old rums. Add to that touches of beef bouillon, parsley and Havana cigar and you’ll get a lovely-lovely nose. Nearly perfect and it’s even kind of smooth at 57% vol. With water: indeed, it’s rather meaty. More meat bouillons and soups as well as hints of agave. A funny one! Quality’s extremely high so far. Mouth (neat): huge! Heavy orange liqueur, figs, a feeling of pastis, coffee and bitter chocolate, then more zests and liquorice. A saltiness. With water: excellent despite an oak that became a notch too obvious (pencil shavings). I love all this coffee… Water makes it a little dry. Finish: very long, with the jammy side fighting back. Perfect aftertaste, on raisins and PX. Comments: a big, rich one. Well selected Taiwan! (as always). SGP:661 - 90 points.

Glenfarclas 1980/2002 (50.7%, OB Christmas Edition, cask #11045, 229 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1980/2002 (50.7%, OB Christmas Edition, cask #11045, 229 bottles) Three stars and a half Most ‘Christmas Editions’ have been interesting and quite ‘individual’ in my opinion. I’ve already tried several 1980s, all to my liking (WF 86-90). Colour: dark amber. Nose: oh, lovely again, but this is different. It’s much more herbal and earthy, with more menthol, eucalyptus, even camphor, wormwood, old wardrobe, herbal teas (hawthorn, orange blossom). Certainly more smoke too, it’s frankly smoky but that’s not quite spent matches. With water: excluse me but LOL! Very unusual notes of Thai spices, sorrel, something sour but that’s quite splendid in this context, sweet cheese (Comté of the year)… This one tells you stories!  Mouth (neat): oh yes, it’s very smoky, almost peaty. Well, it IS peaty, was an ex-Islay cask involved? I have to say it’s almost got something of Lagavulin 21yo, and I’m not joking. Impressive but, I have to say, a little unlikely. Big leather and a lot of astringency. With water: oh, no! Doesn’t stand dilution unless you just add drops. Is that the peat? Finish: long, peaty, herbal. Jaegermeister remade in Speyside (and Islay). Comments: it’s a dangerous one, you have to be the king of pipette to reduce it but yeah, it’s fun. SGP:463 - 84 points.

Glenfarclas 28 yo 1970/1999 (55.9%, Cadenhead, Chairman’s Stock, sherry hogshead, 180 bottles)

Glenfarclas 28 yo 1970/1999 (55.9%, Cadenhead, Chairman’s Stock, sherry hogshead, 180 bottles) Four stars and a half One of the rare ‘disclosed’ independent Glenfarclas. I remember a 1971 at 47% that was truly wonderful (WF 91). Colour: full gold. Nose: the sherry’s lighter, this one’s fresher, more fruity, more on ripe plums, yellow flowers and honey. In a way, it’s quite Balvenie-ish – and god knows that the early 1970s were particularly great at Balvenie. After ten minutes, more menthol again as well as beautiful notes of warm strawberry jam. Nutshell: lighter, fresher, more floral. With water:  oh yes, another one that swims like a champ, like many Glenfarclas in my experience (just not some that we just had ;-)). Wonderful mead and honeydew, it’s all very beehive-y. Mouth (neat): oh yes, it’s one of these very honeyed Speysiders, also ridden with honeydew and jams. Think Caperdonich 1972 or Glen Grant 1970 or, or, or… Actually this one’s just a notch too oaky for my taste, but the wheelbarrows of juicy sultanines and plums are just perfect. Let’s hope water won’t make it too dry. With water: nope! More of all that plus mint and liquorice. Finish: long and spicier. The oak’s just a tad biting but nothing ‘too much’. Comments: do not overlook these bottlings! SGP:461 - 89 points.

Speyside 42 yo 1969/2011 (53.4%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon)

Speyside 42 yo 1969/2011 (53.4%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon) Four stars There’s absolutely no evidence whatsoever that this is Glenfarclas, but there’s no evidence that it isn’t either ;-). Colour: full gold. Nose: we’re extremely close to the 1970. Same floral tones and big light honey (I mean acacia and such) but this one has also got a varnishy side that none of the others did have. Touches of nail polish remover. Mind you, no problems whatsoever, especially since those notes tend to go away and to leave room for more… Balvenieness? With water: more barley water, almonds, linseed oil and herbal teas (chamomile is very obvious). Another excellent swimmer… so far. Mouth (neat): liquid honey matured in oak. And oranges, mirabelles, quince, vanilla cake, then more tea and nutmeg. Mint. The oak’s a little loud. With water: hell, careful with water! That’s the problem with very old whiskies that are still strong, in theory they’d need water but practically, water will make the tannicity stand out. Not easy, not easy… Finish: good length, mentholated and pretty oaky. The balance’s a little fragile and water makes it very drying. Comments: nah, drop water. Take them neat and sip them slowly. SGP:361 - 87 points.

And a little bonus ...

Glenfarclas-Glenlivet 8 yo '105' (105°proof, OB, unblended, 75.7cl, +/-1965)

Glenfarclas-Glenlivet 8 yo '105' (105°proof, OB, unblended, 75.7cl, +/-1965) Five stars The ancestor of the well-known 105 black label. Most probably 1950s distillation. Colour: full gold. Nose: it’s especially interesting to compare this puppy with the 2002. The old one’s rather more herbal and kind of phenolic, with a little more camphor and cigarette tobacco, but I wouldn’t say it’s superior or more complex, despite the OBE. Well, there’s little noticeable OBE anyway. Lovely whiffs of cut flowers and honeycomb, as well as sultanas again and again. A tiny-wee chartreuse-y side as well. With water: LOL again! Now we have suntan lotion (coconut based. Or monoi?), hazelnuts, Grand-Marnier, more plums… Perfect! And old petrol. Mouth: woah, this is massive! Bags of cough lozenges, raisins, heavy strong black tea and certainly some rum. It may be very complex, but the high strength makes it a tad monodimensional. Nothing unusual, even after all these years. With water: there, this is quite perfect. Raisins, figs, old Rivesaltes, mint syrup and just wee touches of tar. Impressive. Finish: very long, the spicier of them all even if it was young. The aftertaste is a little less thrilling though, there’s a feeling of… walnut stain? Liquorice concentrate? Pitch? Not pitch. Comments: more or less the same very high quality as the more recent – I think – 105 8yo from the 1980s. That is to say very high, let’s not forget that alcohol is a preservative agent. SGP:562 - 90 points.

(wit thanks to Angus, Benjamin, Cyril, Konstantin and Vincent)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glenfarclas I've tasted so far



Malternatives, two apocalyptical rums

This, you don’t see in whisky! Or only in bourbons, sometimes… Or stunty vodkas. So these two puppies were bottled at a very measly 75.5% (yeah, each), and I’m sure they were even diluted to make it exactly to 151 proof (US!) Please pray for me…

Bacardi '151' (75.5%, OB, +/-2013)

Bacardi '151' (75.5%, OB, +/-2013) No need to remind you who Bacardi is, I guess. Big brand, big volumes and Porto Rico. Ah, Porto Rico... Colour: pale gold. Nose: nope. Burns. Burning papers, plastic and then butter. Soldier’s Kirschwasser. Pass. With water: not yet. With more water: no, remains raw and extremely spirity. No rum flavours, which takes the biscuit. Mouth (neat): nohh! Sugared alcohol. Unbearable. Destroys your tongue. With water: no, plain alcohol, unpleasant, raw, vulgar. Finish: aahhhhhh! A lot of sugar. Comments: I liked the old Cuban Bacardi that we tried back on July 5 much better! Criminals! (hey, I’m just kidding…) The only worse one I’ve tried was Austria’s Stroh 80. Kills an elephant form a distance of 200m. SGP:310 - around 25 points.

Gosling's Black Seal 151 Proof (75.5%, OB, Bermuda, +/-2013)

Gosling's Black Seal 151 Proof (75.5%, OB, Bermuda, +/-2013) Is this really natural? Colour: dark red amber. Nose: where’s the alcohol? This is so much smoother and easier than the Bacardi, it’s almost pleasant. It’s actually a kind of heavy coffee liqueur, but let’s not take chances, I’ve got a wine dinner tonight. Serious. With water: nice notes of thuja wood, moss, fern, mint, verbena (verveine du Velay) and genepy. They must have added plants. Mouth (neat): the extremely thick, albeit pretty unnatural mouth feel kind of makes it sort of sippable at full strength, I even get some interesting pinesap and other resinous things. Don’t tell me I’m getting used to these strengths! With water: it’s more cough syrup than rum, but provided you like cough syrup, you may enjoy this. Sweet herbs, many herbal liqueurs. Finish: long, sweet and herbal. Comments: I’m not sure all these flavours come from wood extracts. Or was it pinewood? But yeah, it’s fun stuff. SGP:770 - around 65 points.
Pete and Jack in St. Tropez







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