Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Old Age Puncheon - Part II

Glenfarclas 40yo - 46%


You old smoothie, you

Every now and then you come across a distillery that doesn't shout, doesn't flannel, doesn't try to fleece you at every turn, it just sticks to what it's good at and pumps out batch after batch of quality whisky. Bladnoch is a good example of this, but what immediately springs to mind when I think of such distilleries, is Glenfarclas. The core range is, bar one - possibly two exceptions, fantastic.


I have a friend who believes the slogan above the distillery door should read "Welcome to Glenfarclas - If you don't like sherry and you don't like wood, you can f**k off.", and I must say I agree with the sentiment. I'm not saying their core range whiskies are one-dimensional, not in the slightest, but they do sherried expressions and they do them incredibly well. What's even more impressive is that the prices are relatively low at almost every age point. The 15yo is fantastic, the 21 is different, but great and the 25, 30 and cask strength standard 105 releases rate among the best whiskies I have tried. This, however, is 'Super-aged Whisky Week' and so we turn to the daddy of the core range; the much lauded 40yo.

Seville oranges and oloroso. Bitter marmalade and marzipan. As the dram settles we get fresh orange juice making an appearance backed up by rich, buttery toffee and honeycomb.

A few drops of water reveal sharper citrus notes with pineapple at the expense of the toffee. The honeycomb is more pronounced and there are traces of heather honey.

Citrus and other tropical fruits and a little spicy. Slightly drying as wood appears nearer the finish. Wonderful, silky mouthfeel.

Water gives the tropical fruits a chance to shine as the spice is dampened down. After a while the wood becomes quite dominant, not in an unpleasant way but the imbalance becomes evident.

Slightly woody with bags of spice, tannins and a sprinkling of black pepper. Relatively short for a whisky of this age but an abundance of flavour means this is forgiveable.

Water gives it a woodier complexion with a mild astringent quality. The spicier notes have migrated to the back of the tongue with grapefruit and orange peel taking centre stage for the encore.

The 'farclas 40 isn't new to me but I have to admit that this isn't how I remember it. It's neither better nor worse, just different. Taken neat, it wears its age very lightly and is beautifully fruity and fresh. With water things get a little unbalanced but it's still a very good whisky. Can be acquired for a shade under £300 although, if I'm brutally honest, I feel some of Glenfarclas' younger offerings give better value for money.

Grade: B
You're not going to get many 40yo distillery bottlings for such a good price. If you're looking for an appropriate 40th birthday/anniversary present, this should be top of your list. If you're looking for 'bang for your buck', go with the 25.

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