Thursday, November 01, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #189

Glenfarclas Family Casks 1965
Speyside Single Malt Whisky

60% abv



Available in Canada through John Hanna & Son and unavailable in the US due to the regulation that bottle sizes must be 750ml (these are 700ml), many of these vintages are selling out as we speak. Several bars have even purchased the whole range. Amazing. Glenfarclas has always been whisky favoured by collectors and the spirit has been praised by many as the best Speyside has to offer.

Glenfarclas is a very conservative distillery. I was going to say 'traditional', but that might be unfair to other 'traditional' but progressive distilleries. At Glenfarclas everything is on a larger scale than normal: their capacity is twice that of Cragganmore or Danwhinnie, they have a mash tun that is 10m in diameter, and they have as many as 13 folks working at the distillery. This last relates to their 'conservatism' as all movement of casks is done manually on rails without the aid of lifts or robots from the future. And there is more: they have a firm policy that says "no" to wood finishes, they limit sales to independent brokers and highly discourage bottling of their whisky by ANY independent bottlers, and they stick to their technique of using sherry butts for the maturation of their whisky despite the fact that this practice can cost up to 10 times as much as using ex-bourbon barrels.

This vintage is one of 417 bottles from a first-fill sherry butt.
For all Glenfarclas had on the mission click HERE and for other vintages from the Family Casks click HERE.


A dry but appetising nose with apples, toffee, black pepper, broccoli, and soy sauce. Time in the glass releases more outdoorsy notes along with cinnamon and a touch of sulphur. Water unleashes a faint whiff of smoke alongside stone fruits, carob, and more rubbery notes.

Big and spicy with cloves, raisins, toffee and licorice. Drying and increasingly leathery and woody. Water adds a creaminess to the mouthfeel and allows this stuff to scream OAK, with musty, library/old book flavours as well. The finish is gingery with faint smokiness, walnut and oak flavours that linger for minutes.


I think this is as close to smoking (pipe? fresh rolling tobacco?) as I have come with a whisky; all the flavours are there and if you breathe deep enough, you can even get a good cough from it, too. Although I know nothing about cigars, I imagine this malt is well suited to accompany one. Amazingly high abv% for such an old whisky. The result is a concentrated spirit that welcomes both time in the glass and a few drops of water. Quite a good price for such an old proprietary single cask whisky, esp from a distillery who has officially never allowed anyone to bottle their whiskies. Can still taste nuts and oak. Maybe an idea (albeit, an expensive one) for a marinade?

Malt Mission #186
Malt Mission #187
Malt Mission #188
Malt Mission #190

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