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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Glenfarclas 9 yo Single Cask (Whisky & Wisdom bottling) Whisky Review!

I've already been up-front about the fact that I do not consider myself a big fan of Glenfarclas, based on the expressions I've tried so far. But this is my first time with a single cask, cask-strength bottling, and this one was personally selected by and bottled for an Australian whisky lover. Will this one change my mind?

The man behind this official bottling is Andrew Derbidge, possibly Australia's biggest unofficial advocate of Glenfarclas whisky. Among many other duties, Andrew is the man behind the Whisky & Wisdom whisky blog, and is also the director of the Australian branch of the SMWS (Single Malt Whisky Society), so he's no stranger to single cask whiskies. And when Andrew offered to send a sample over of his own Glenfarclas bottling for review, I'm obviously not going to turn him down!

Apparently while sampling various casks at the distillery (as you do!), Andrew came across a 9 year old sherry butt which he fell in love with, and he couldn't in good conscience allow it to become another component of a vatting / standard bottling of Glenfarclas. So he did what many dream of doing: he purchased the cask from the distillery, and asked them to bottle it for him! There were 650+ bottles worth of whisky in said cask (remember that butts are very large - tee hee), which is a bit much for our limited market, but thankfully the distillery was able to find other interested parties to take the remaining liquid off their hands.

What Andrew ended up with was 252 bottles of 9 year old Glenfarclas, bottled in January 2016 from a single first-fill European Oak sherry butt, at the cask strength of 60.5%. Once the bottles arrived in Australia (after paying a massive customs bill, no doubt), and once Andrew had his personal supply stashed aside, the remaining bottles were put up for general sale at The Whisky Empire. There is still stock available for purchase for a pretty-reasonable $229, and as with all single cask bottlings, once it's gone, it's gone! Next stop, sherry town!

Glenfarclas 9-year old Single Cask, 60.5% cask strength. Speyside, Scotland. 
Bottled for Whisky & Wisdom, 252 bottles. Cask no. 1845, first-fill Oloroso sherry butt. Non-chill filtered, natural colour. 

Colour: Deep reddish-bronze.

Nose: Rich, dark sherry - juicy raisins, dates, wood spices. Warm spicy oak. Sherry-focussed of course, but also quite well-balanced. Some hot/strong peppermint. A little clean malt and old soft leather as well.

Texture: Very nice. Medium-weight, juicy and warming. A little heat as well, but not too much for the age.

Taste: Spicy oak, a little spirit-y heat. Date syrup, then the sherry comes out in force - drier than on the nose, peppery spices and dried fruit. More warm, fresh oak. Quite dynamic, alternates between sweet and savoury.

Finish: Medium-length. Malty & spicy, clean spirit, some chewing tobacco and leather, and more spicy oak.

Score: 3.5 out of 5.

Notes: Without a doubt the best Glenfarclas I've tasted so far. Far superior to the 105 expression in my opinion, far less spirit-y and hot, despite it being a similar age and similar strength. Very little heat in this one actually, taking those factors into account. The beauty of a well-selected first-fill cask, right there! That cask hasn't overwhelmed the spirit itself here either, it's still going strong.

This one does remind me a little of Aberlour's brilliant A'Bunadh, which is definitely high praise. If you're a Glenfarclas fan, I would suggest moving quickly on this very limited bottling. Like I said above, being a single-cask whisky, there's only so much of it around, and once it's gone, it's gone!

Thanks to Andrew Derbidge / Whisky & Wisdom for the sample, I imagine it'd be very tough to part with some of your own single-cask bottling from your favourite distillery, so thanks for sharing the love!


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