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Thursday, 22 April 2010

The 40 Year Old 'Farclas...

No, this isn't another one of those appalling American 'Rom-Coms', starring Ben Stiller or Steve Carrell, but something we've been excited about for a little while now. A couple of weeks ago, we met up in London with Mr Glenfarclas himself, George Grant for a few drams and a little sneaky peek at this new release.

The distillery, which has been going from strength to strength in the past several years has had a superb range of bottlings, from the powerful and robust 105, to the genius idea of the Family Cask Series, which gives the consumer the best possible suggestion for a landmark birthday present, if ever there was one.

This 40 yo expression is the newest addition to the range, drawn from the plentiful stocks of casks that were filled in the 1960's.

One difference that you will notice about this bottling to similar ages from other distilleries is the simplicity in which it is packaged- slim steel tube and standard bottle- no Lalique crystal, no Swarovski gems, no trimmings from the Beard of Zeus etc.

Of course there is a collectors market out there (Glenfarclas also released a premium and very expensive 50 yo a while back) and these 'trinkets and trappings' supposedly make a big difference, but surely the liquid inside is really all that truly matters?

Well hats off to George and Co. Not only is this whisky simple in its approach, but it really does come at an unbelievable price for something so aged- the RRP is £350. That will predictably ruffle a few feathers with other distilleries...

Imagine if whisky had its own price comparison website like Compare The Meerkat/Market or that most irritating of adverts on UK TV 'GO COMPARRREE!' This whisky would absolutely clean up. One thing that we discussed with George is that whisky is for opening and drinking, not coveting and dusting off now and again to show your mates at the golfclub. What Glenfarclas have done is make a great, aged liquid available to an audience who could only previously read about it in magazines, or take pictures of it at whisky shows.

Glenfarclas - 40 Year Old- 46%

Nose: An initial sweetness, with no real hints of dryness, some dark chocloate, spices (nutmeg) leather and walnuts. There is a wonderful balance about this- it has all the hallmarks of an old whisky, but still has some 'get up and go' about it... top draw stuff.

Palate: Slightly dry initially, with some dark brittle caramel taking the lead, but this is quickly followed by a cracking citrus note, like a juicy blood orange, into more dark chocolate, dried figs and then some sweeter chopped hazelnuts. Again, such balance for an old whisky. With water, the tannic dryness gives way into more of the citrus/orange flavour and you're into a highly drinkable and moreish whisky indeed.

Finish: The drying palate is left with lots of the richer, darker flavours, including the slightly bitter chocolate and dried fruits, which linger for a very long time indeed.

Overall: Why, oh why would anyone buy this and just stick it on the shelf?? This is pull-the -cork-out-with-your-teeth stuff to share out hearty measures for your friends, loved ones and anyone looking to sample a little piece of aged whisky making at its best.

Perhaps the business is fast becoming a 2-tiered system... There are those who can afford to be showy and buy things, simply because they are expensive, not because they are any good... and those who just like great, reasonably priced whisky. This bottling just bucked the trend considerably.