Friday, November 02, 2007
Glenfarclas The Family Casks 1958
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
Well, I must say it has been an unusual week of dramming. Yes, it has been a privilege to be able to taste my way through 5 decades of Glenfarclas, but, man, has it been different than I expected.
I am a big fan of the core range of bottlings: the 105 is among the best bang-for-buck drops out there, I always recommend the 21yo to folks looking to buy a bottle for their dad/mom/friend/husband/wife who likes whisky(although we have not yet had it on the mission), and the 25yo was one of the best 3 whiskies I had in the first 100 Malt Missions. It seems to me, based on the 5 drops I have had this week, that The Family Cask series is a collection of unique, and sometimes odd, expressions from a consistently excellent distillery. After all, that is the fun in single cask expressions; finding interesting and unusual expressions of whiskies you thought you knew inside and out (I had two cRaZy Bowmores from the SMWS last night, for example). That is what drives malt maniacs to continue exploring the thousands of flavour possibilities available with Scotch whisky.
And they don't come cheap. Only the serious collector, lucky gift recipient, or wealthy whisky lover will be able to participate in the enjoyment of this range. Unfortunatley folks, that seems to be the way things are moving in the whisky world. Look around. There are fewer and fewer good drops between £15-25 and almost every new release that we have seen over the past year comes in at £30+. Don't lose hope. This increasing focus on luxury, this premiumisation of the whole sector cannot last forever(which will dry up first, though? Supply or demand?). For now, stock up on the drops you would most miss if a) they left your market, or b) they left your price bracket. And pray that some friend of yours with money to burn thinks that buying you the Glenfarclas Family Cask 1976(or whatever) would be a brilliant birthday present.
This vintage is one of 455 bottles from a sherry butt. For all Glenfarclas had on the mission click HERE and for other vintages from the Glenfarclas Family Casks click HERE.
I have not mentioned appearance of colour yet this week (and Glenfarclas never adds colour) but I will today: this one is like treacle, molasses dark. And the legs are unusual, they go in all angles, looking more like scars (Freddy Krueger's face) than 'church windows.' Smells of sherry and oak, but believe it or not the aromas go beyond that after nearly 50 years in a cask. I get shellfish, coffee, mint, candied anise, and cinnamon. Smells like a forest, earth, tree bark, mushrooms, decomposition, and fresh herbal/floral breezes. There is some meatiness in there too; raw beef like a butcher's. Water lets out toasty aromas (smoke?) and more caramel or toffee sweetness.
Apples, sherry, toffee and some salt. Even some fresh impressions of flowers and honey. Then comes the dark side: burning wood, varnish, dark chocolate, blood, metal, tobacco, ginger, dark roast coffee, and Guiness. With water these two distinct sides of this whisky's personality bind together in an other-worldly complexity. Pointless to write down desciptors, it is SO active. Coffee or Guiness bitterness lingers through the oaky finish with the faint sweetness of chocolate chip cookies.
An old sherry monster, this is a whisky to measure time with. Every nose, every sip, every second spent with this whisky seems to slow down the rotations of the earth. Yes, it is oaky, but by no means has this whisky grown tired in the cask, it is full of flavours (aromas and tastes) and would be ideal during that alone time after the family leaves at Christmas.
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