Announced a couple of weeks ago, Glenfarclas 175th Anniversary is now being distributed across Europe and Asia and even sold out in many places.
It is composed of 18 casks from six decades and even the oldest cask in the distillery warehouse was added (cask #1711 filled in 1952). For more information, read the original announcement.
Glenfarclas 175th Anniversary
(43%, OB 2011, 6000 btl.)
Nose: a fairly gentle nose with different layers. Sweet barley sugar and young fruity notes to start with (coconut, berries). Some heather and vanilla biscuits. Much ‘older’ sherry as well (figs, dark chocolate) and a layer of subtle oak (old roses, light spices). Wax. Dusty books and gravel. Very complex and well integrated. Mouth: not the biggest impact. Rather spicy (cinnamon, pepper). Hardly any young notes now. There’s a fruity side to it – orange liqueur and Seville oranges rather than bolder sherried notes. Then growing more herbal with heather, old oak and leather. The herbal / bittersweet profile was not really expected. Finish: medium length, with some mint, apples and a cocoa note.
It’s great to see so many ‘old notes’ in a bottling that’s accessible thanks to the addition of younger malts. Adding the oldest cask was not a marketing trick, you really get a sense of old Glenfarclas here. Around € 95 but prices are going up as it seems to sell like hotcakes.
While we’re at it, let’s try another whisky released by Whisky-Fässle
last year. A 38 years old Clynelish 1972 from a bourbon hogshead.
Clynelish 38 yo 1972
(46,2%, Whisky-Fässle 2010)
Nose: starts less expressive than I expected, but it folds open over time. Beeswax, pollen, tropical fruits (guava, mango). A bit “greener” than other Clynelishes, that I always seem to associate with yellow or orange hues. Grass maybe? Certainly more spices from the oak than in 20-30yo bottlings although it’s not woody. Mouth: also less abundant fruits here, less tropical (more on oranges and citrus zest). A bit resinous with some leafy notes. Ginger. Soft pepper. It’s easy to trace the oak. Maybe a soft mustardy note as well. Finish: grapefruit, spices, wax and a little salt.
This kind of really old Clynelish picks up a little roughness and shows less waxy sweetness compared to slightly younger 1980’s releases. Anyway it’s still great and comes down to personal preferences of course. Around € 230, now sold out.
Whisky-Fässle is a German online whisky retailer founded by Jens Unterweger. As they’re focusing on independent releases, they’re one of my starting points when looking for new releases from German bottlers like Whisky Agency, Malts of Scotland, Jack Wiebers, etc.
Occasionally they select a cask to bottle under their own name, like this Port Ellen 1982 from a bourbon cask.
Port Ellen 27 yo 1982
(57,3%, Whisky-Fässle 2010)
Nose: this one doesn’t need much time to convince you. It starts on wet gravel and dry seaweed. Fresh hints of lime. Excellent medicinal notes as well (antiseptic) in a refined way. Menthol. Tarry ropes. Garage aroma. Powerful yet smooth as silk. A winner. Mouth: very intense, high on lemon and pepper, high on tar again, high on smoke. Again quite antiseptic. All of this well dosed. Then getting a bit sharper and earthier. Finish: mouth-watering lemon and soot.
A powerful Port Ellen that’s not too austere nor too rounded. Impressive combination of strong flavours and an excellent balance. One of the best Port Ellens I’ve had recently. Around € 190, now sold out (does it surprise you?).
This is the peated Arran. Since 2004, the distillery produced some mildly peated spirit (14 ppm phenols) and now a limited release of 9000 bottles is made available.
Arran Machrie Moor
(46%, OB 2011, 9000 btl.)
Nose: the expected notes of a very young whisky: sweet malt, pear drops, some coconut. Artificial in its fruitiness. The peat comes second, it’s more of a mild grassy / smokey undertone. A few yeasty notes as well. Topped off by fresh citrus. Mouth: overly sour start (lemon), then some peat smoke, then back to sweeter notes like apple candy. Fades on a bitter (tonic) & salty (liquorice) combo. The palate has the same problem as the nose: it tries a lot of different tricks but none of them really work. Finish: now developing an enjoyable pastry-like quality alongside the peat smoke.
This Arran Machrie Moor is clearly not about heavy peat, it’s not about juicy fruits, it’s not about complexity, it’s not about balance… I fear this is simply a way to widen the range, like the wine finishes. I’d stick to the Arran Peacock or Arran 14yo. Around € 40.
Yesterday’s Lochside 1981 by The Whisky Agency is a perfect sparring partner for this recent Lochside 1981 released by the German shop Whisky-Doris. Both fino casks, probably sister casks.
Lochside 29 yo 1981 (58,8%, Whisky-Doris 2010, fino butt #960, 403 btl.)
Nose: very similar to the Whisky Agency cask, only slightly less austere. A tad more fruity notes and definitely more spices (white pepper, ginger, nutmeg). Still nicely coastal. Some pastry notes, fruits (whitecurrant), a bit of smoke. Walnuts. There’s an organic side to it as well (asparagus and other cooked vegetables) but luckily it’s subtle and it seems to come and go. Mouth: punchy and full-bodied, with plenty of spices backed up by fruit. Again a little less extreme than the Whisky Agency cask, which is a plus in my opinion. Lemon zest, hints of ginger. White chocolate and almonds. Finish: quite long and spicy with some liquorice and candied lemon zest.
Although this one is clearly related to the Whisky Agency release, it’s a bit more accessible and even more to my preference. Good news: still available from Whisky-Doris (for € 150).
Fino casks are uncommon for whisky maturation. This unoxidized style of sherry is usually bone-dry and not really suited for shipping so most of the production (and casks) stayed in Spain.
Occasionally, a fino matured whisky turns up, like this Lochside 1981 which is one of a whole series of Lochsides bottled by The Whisky Agency in Germany. We’ll compare it to a similar Lochside by Whisky-Doris tomorrow.
Lochside 29 yo 1981 (52,7%, Whisky Agency ‘Still Lifes’ 2010, fino hogshead, 275 btl.)
Nose: very peculiar mix of oil and gas, sourish butter, yeast, some hay and clay. Wet gravel and stone dust. A few metallic notes and graphite. It tends towards fruity notes at times (subtle gooseberry, lemon) but overall it’s mostly mineral and far from sensual. Some (clean) match heads as well. Mouth: an austere profile again (lemon peel, ginger, salt water). Quite punchy with some pepper and allspice. Hints of tonic. A tad sweeter when water is added, but it never really becomes smooth, until… the finish: not too long but surprisingly rounded compared to the palate.
Very complex whisky with a unique old-style profile.
As a consequence, it’s also quite challenging –
not everyone will like this (but I do). Around € 150. Sold out.
Creative Whisky Company is an independent bottler specialising in single casks, all picked by the owner David Stirk. He’s a former whisky writer for Whisky Magazine who also worked for Cadenhead. The names of the bottling ranges are easy to confuse: Exclusive Malts, Exclusive Range and Exclusive Cask.
We’re now tasting an exclusive Macduff 2000 bottled exclusively for our Belgian retailer The Exclusive Bonding Dram. It was chosen from a series of cask samples by founder Jeroen and a team of Bonding Dram enthusiasts. It’s bottled at cask strength and presented in a nicely designed box.
Macduff 10 yo 2000 (56,5%, Creative Whisky Co. for The Bonding Dram, sherry butt #3525, 200 btl.)
Nose: juicy start with cooked fruits and tinned fruits on syrup. Then slowly growing spicier (mainly cinnamon) with some Mexican chocolate disks. Gingerbread cake. Some nutty aromas and raisins. Baked apples. A lovely sherry profile. Water makes it slightly more fragrant and brings out oranges. Mouth: good attack, sweet, now with the same spices really up front. A light peppery prickle. Rum & raisins, figs, prunes. Also fresher fruits (berries and apples). Nice, and best without water. Finish: long and spicy with some Mon Cherie notes.
Available from The Bonding Dram for € 50. Great price / quality – recommended if you’re into fresh and juicy sherry. You can also buy a sample if you want to try it.