Friday, 28 August 2009

Glenfarclas 15-year-old 46% Dram #9

Luxurious, eccentric:
Quite a character.

It wasn't exactly love at first sight, but I worked at the relationship.

I had been desperate to try the offerings from this distillery which had always put me in mind of a secret glen: proud and aloof; quietly creating a dram of the first order. Eventually, with the squat, avuncular bottle open in my hand, I was better positioned to pass judgement, not just on the malt, but on my imagination, too. This was a period on my whisky journey where i had to rely heavily on seldon-challenged assumptions.

The original tasting note, tasted 5/7/08: COLOUR - Deep, old gold. Bronzy, peaty water. NOSE - WoW - Huge. Very floral with vanilla, honey and tannins. WW - Changes nature: harsher, fuller and more steely. Treated wood - sharp. More malty as you go down the glass. BODY - Robust, chewy. A heavy-weaight. A hammer's head. PALATE - Big Sherr hit to begin with. A gentle decay into liqueuer chocolates. Chocolate mousse, too. Mandarins, apples and skinned grapes. FINISH - Grape skins appear here, tannins, majorly oaky and lingering.

Taking my chance to propery re-evaluate the Glenfarclas, I was struck (most likely not for the first time) by its beauty. This time around i described the appearance as a strong terracotta orange with gold highlights.

Perhaps so long with so much air to contend with inside the bottle altered the make-up of the whisky slightly, for I wasn't bowled over as I was last year by the full, sweet Sherry woodiness. Then again, perhaps I have tasted other malts that take the Glenfarclas' crown for most extreme Sherry aroma, or I have simply developed the ability to compartmentalise it. Whatever, the first flavour to spring from the glass was that of cleanly assertive cereals under a warm mist of smooth Sherry. I also smelt the richest honey/ beeswax, perhaps worked into the sturdy polished oak note. Higher up in the aroma were ticklish citrus juices. A lovely, delicate sweetness drew me in somewhere between the malt and the fruit. It was a nice place to be. The finest gingerbread men were hinted at, as were semi-wild flowers. The balance and depth of character was extraordinary.

The personality shift that I had come to marvel at in the past when water was introduced did not occur to the same degree. Instead of noting the sharpness of treated wood, I felt the malt became sweeter and breezier with a firm ooze of caramel. Given time, the nose I was accustomed to emerged with hot honey and woody tannins. It grew in strength and Sherry was glugged liberally over a foundation of flowers and peat. Toffee maltiness and burnt vanilla lent their sweetness to a stunning and complex nose.

To drink it is to be charmed again by the forceful but agreeable distillery character. The body was full, round and dryish.

Flavour-wise, big and rich maltiness slid about on the syrupy Sherry, orange peel appeared as well as dark bitter chocolate and caramel maltiness. It had a plumy quality, too.

The finish is almost outrageously long with tangerine oakiness. There is a clean breathless tang like cough syrup - the work of the oak that even the 10-year-old exhibits. The younger sibling also has the same tasty leafy character.

And now it's gone! I don't think I shall see its kind for a wee while, at least until I get hold of the 105. I feel I gave it an appropriate send-off, however, re-marking it up to where it ought to perch: proudly in the "70s".

No comments: