Monday, October 29, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #186

Glenfarclas Family Casks 1992
Single Malt Whisky
55.5% abv


Totally missed Alcohol Awareness Week (Scotland) last week, October 21-27. The Scotch Whisky Association, Diageo, and many major liquor companies took part while Dr. Whisky remained oblivious. So today my prescription is "be a responsible drinker"; know what health experts think about your drinking habits and please don't drink to get happy. Drink for the social or hedonistic reasons, drink for the flavour experience(s), drink for cultural or religious practice. Drink in moderation. And drink water.

While there can be no doubt that alcohol causes harm in this country, not all liquor sectors can be punished equally at budget time.
It cannot be ignored that in 2007 it has been 10 years without a tax hike on spirits in the UK. Scottish whisky has seen a boom in recent years and is showing healthy growth. Naturally, this growth has been largely due to a degree of stagnation in taxation and rather than firing people and closing distilleries, companies are actually hiring more people and building new sites.

We are nervous that if we can't all work to curb binge drinking and promote responsible relationships with alcohol that the tax and duty on spirits, and whisky in particular, will rise and could lead to economic hardships in certain areas of Scotland where the whisky industry plays a very large part in the health of local economies. Taxation is not the only, nor the most efficient, tool for reducing excessive consumption. I believe education can help cure a lot of these problems, and 24h drinking certainly doesn't help send either the right message or cause the right effect. More controls should be put in place in the clubs and bars of the UK. You cannot convince me that a couple of mates tasting the new Glengoyne Burnfoot at their flat in Dundee is more harmful to society than "drink all 8 shots and get a t-shirt" type offers or "2-4-1 alcopops or ciders." Respect your drink and your drink will respect you.

Right, onto our Malt Mission. The threads of many-a-whisky-forum have been buzzing with news and views surrounding the release of Glenfarclas' Family Casks (See THIS, THIS, or THIS). Glenfarclas has released a series of 43 vintages from 1952 to 1994 that they are calling Family Casks and the bottles can be bought individually or as a set. It seems they will be available in Ontario through John Hanna and Sons and in some other select markets around the world where importers have the determination to get some.

Glenfarclas has been distilled on the Recherlich Farm in Ballindalloch by six generations of the Grant family. For more distillery information and to see all Glenfarclas had on the mission click HERE. This particular vintage is from a sherry butt and is one of 669 bottles.

I was honoured to have been invited to the launch of these beauties in September and gutted that I could not attend as I was going to be out of the country. But I was delighted to receive samples from a few casks from Robert Ransom and I express my thanks for both the initial invite and the subsequent drops by post. We will be traveling back in time with Glenfarclas this whole week.

Tasted with MH (who started high school in 1992). His notes appear in quotes.


Bran flakes, "definitely breakfast cereal, but more like LIDL malt cruchies, to me." Some table polish, orange scented, "the stuff Grandma uses around the house". Perfumy, Flowers by Kenzo. Water brings the chemical polish out even more.

Sweet and dry, honey, a touch of salt, and mealy apples. Green veg, celery. Toasty sherry finish. "A bit nutty at the end, too." Water should be used very carefully, if at all. It brings out a slight marzipan flavour. "For me, the water hurt the nose but I like the taste better now." Honey, slice of orange, and plastic.


Matt wasn't sure if tasting first thing in the morning was the best way to evaluate cuz his morning mouth seemed to defend against the abv. In any event, we found this pretty simple and straightforward, and Matt felt the polish aromas really interfered with his experience. This expression has the perfumy elements of Glenfarclas, the polished wood tables, etc., but the standard 15yo has a fuller, rounder flavour to offer.

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