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

March 6, 2014


A pair of Glenfarclas 17 yo and siblings

The regular Glenfarclas 17 yo is one of these well-known whiskies I’ve never written proper tasting notes for, and that’s a crying shame, agreed. The arrival in WF’s library of a very old 17yo from the 1940s is a good excuse for doing a wee comparative tasting, and maybe we’ll have other Glenfarclasses after those two, we’ll see…

Glenfarclas 17 yo (43%, OB, +/-2013)

Glenfarclas 17 yo (43%, OB, +/-2013) Three stars Colour: dark gold. Nose: what strikes me first is a combination of cherry liqueur (guignolet) with drops of pastis, juicy golden raisins (not the dry black ones!) and many herbal teas such as chamomile and rosemary. Then it’s rather caramelised oranges, drops of Pimm’s No. 1, leather and more and more roasted malt and chocolate. It’s pretty complex and aromatic. Mouth: starts very malty, with good body and even a certain roughness. A grassy side, orange zests, quite some oak, more malt, some roasted nuts, some chocolate, chestnuts, apple tart… It’s very robust malt whisky despite a relatively low strength, I find it rather rawer than its siblings in the range. Finish: long, very malt and chocolaty. Slightly bitter aftertaste. Comments: a very fine Glenfarclas, I think, but of course the distillery have many more complex expressions. SGP:451 - 81 points.

Glenfarclas-Glenlivet 17 yo (91 US proof, US import, +/-1940)

Glenfarclas-Glenlivet 17 yo (91 US proof, US import, +/-1940) Five stars Most probably Glenfarclas distilled in the 1920s. It was imported by James Sword & Son in New York. If I’m not mistaken 91 proof mean 45.5% vol. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this is probably not very fair to the current 17, this baby’s spent more than 70 years in a lovely bottle and has gained an immense complexity, and yet it’s very ‘obvious’ whisky, with a high fruity and phenolic impact. So it’s certainly much more phenolic than the current production, I guess peat was much more in use. At random, I find kumquats, orange blossom honey, charcoal smoke, peat smoke, tiger balm, old crème de menthe, mirabelles, praline straight from the oven and, yes, hashish. It’s becoming more and more resinous! Mouth: absolutely stunning. Absolutely no signs of tiredness and just a massive, immense resinous profile that’s anything but bitter or acrid. Again that specialty from Morocco or Afghanistan ;-), a lot of cough syrup (a cough? Anytime!), chlorophyll, pinesap, then marmalade, dark chocolate, some earth, some roots (gentian, yup), some tobacco, various peppers… All that is very impressive, you just have to enjoy resinous or sappy things as much as I do.  Finish: very long, almost interminable. And always very resinous… Comments: right, this highly resinous profile will not be to everyone’s tastes and that’s why I’ll try to come up with a reasonable score. But who cares after all, these bottles are so rare… SGP:483 - 92 points.

All right, let’s make a short break and then have a few brothers and sisters…

Glenfarclas 1990/2013 (46%, OB, Limited Rare Bottling, Edition No.17, Alexander Selkirk, 1200 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1990/2013 (46%, OB, Limited Rare Bottling, Edition No.17, Alexander Selkirk, 1200 bottles) Four stars A label for Germany that I’ve known for years. Many excellent sherried Glenfarclasses in this series! Colour: red amber. Nose: indeed, deep Glenfarclassy sherry, with wheelbarrows of raisins, prunes and figs plus a light smoke that punctuates it. Plus this feeling of ganache, raspberries… Very nice sherried and rounded richness.  Mouth: drier now, with more coffee, spices and herbs. Cloves, cinnamon… There’s a lot of chocolate as well, especially dark ones, then the usual fruitcake and a few mint drops. Aniseed. Blood oranges. Finish: classic rather old-style Glenfarclas, with good sherry mingled with a rather potent distillate. Calls for chocolate! Comments: I find this extremely good, perfect old style sherry, not too complicated. I mean, not very complex, but excellent. SGP:552 - 87 points.

Let’s try to find another interesting one at relatively low strength… Such as this one:

Findlater’s Mar Lodge 12 yo (43%, Findlater, single malt, France, +/-1985)

Findlater’s Mar Lodge 12 yo (43%, Findlater, single malt, France, +/-1985) Three stars and a half This was ‘a Sportsman’s Malt’ in the good old style, and said to have been Glenfarclas. Hunters like Glenfarclas, don’t they. Colour: deep gold. Nose: very Glenfarclassy, although the sherriness is very subdued. The mirabelles are back, together with these herbal teas that we already found in the modern 17. Also a lot of hay (in the midst of a hot summer) and touches of Virginia tobacco and leather. Wee metallic touches, also. Mouth: quite some smoke, a little pinesap, wormwood, all these herbal teas again, these mirabelles, touches of quinces and just a little liquorice wood. Also a growing marzipan (which could be scary, ha). Finish: relatively long, very clean, with more honey this time and only a mild spiciness. Tiny-wee touches of rubber and cherries in the aftertaste, but that’s nothing. Comments: these bottles are always quite cheap at auctions. Some great surprises can be unearthed. SGP:451 - 84 points.

Glenfarclas 1989/2012 (56.6%, OB, Family Casks, TSMC Taiwan, cask #11046, 591 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1989/2012 (56.6%, OB, Family Casks, TSMC Taiwan, cask #11046, 591 bottles) Five stars With a lovely dragon on the label. Colour: red mahogany. Nose: this nose is both big and delicate, with whiffs of oak (shavings) and rose petals at first nosing, then the expected fruitcake with some raspberry and cherry jams. Cherry and cassis liqueurs, Dijon-style. The active oak makes me even think of some high-end bourbons, imagine. More and more chocolate after a few seconds, it’s almost pure chocolate. With water: more of all that, with more smoothness. A sin! Mouth (neat): extremely aromatic, almost extravagant, concentrated, jammy to the extreme (cassis, raspberry, cherry) and yet pretty elegant. A strong feeling of ripe pomegranates, with a lot of pepper and chilli in the background. With water: various spices come out, ginger, cardamom… Finish: long, more typically oloroso, with Seville oranges, raisins, prunes… A lot of bitter chocolate and mint in the aftertaste. Comments: a very unusual and pretty extreme one, as if it was kind of experimental, in a way. An experiment that worked beautifully – if that ever was an experiment. SGP:571 - 90 points.

A last, older one…

A 1836 founded distillery 1970/2011 (53.5%, Malts of Scotland, Angel’s Choice, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS11025, 55 half-bottles)

A 1836 founded distillery 1970/2011 (53.5%, Malts of Scotland, Angel’s Choice, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS11025, 55 half-bottles) Five stars Of course the mention of 1836 was no obvious proof of the origin of this baby! The equivalent of 55 half-bottles is, I believe, all what was remaining in the cask. Colour: coffee. Nose: perfect rich sherry, and it even remained kind of light and elegant. I mean, some citrus remained to lift it, so to speak. So oranges, figs, raisins, prunes, cappuccino, then more and more chocolate. A lot of chocolate, did Lindt own a distillery? A little mint as well, so that would rather be After Eights. Great nose. With water: a few more grassy and floral notes. Peonies are obvious. Mouth (neat): chocolate liqueur blended with crème de menthe and Cointreau. Also big black cherries. Very impressive, it’s one these rare whiskies that can be both thick/heavy and refined/elegant. Must be the crème de menthe… With water: more wood spices, a feeling of cedar wood, cinnamon, speculoos, bitter oranges… This is absolutely flawless. Finish: long, now very chocolaty again. And minty. I told you, After Eights. Comments: a simply implacable old sherry monster with all the expected attributes, including balance! (yes, despite the heaviness.) SGP:661 - 91 points.

(with thanks to Patrick and the PWWT)

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







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