Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The Glenfarclas Family Casks Vertical Tasting
Here's a post long, long over due! I was invited to a really cool event in December - a full vertical tasting of ALL Glenfarclas Family Casks. That means whisky from every year from 1952-1994! 43 bottles! All in one weekend! (I have to admit that I only attended one day.)
I was intrigued. I like whisky, but don't know very much about it and I'm certainly not fanatic. My husband is somewhat of a whisky snob, and his friends are so even more. They were all very jealous, of course. Glenfarclas is a nice whisky, not very extreme like some single malts, but likeable and popular. Their family casks project is very unique - few distilleries even have casks that are so old! So, this tasting would be really spectacular.
George S Grant
And it was. It was led by expert Henrik Aflodal, and George S Grant from the Glenfarclas Distillery. It's the first time they've had such a large vertical tasting, and it's likely to be the only one! I learned a lot about Glenfarclas in particular, and the way Scottish distilleris run in general. And a lot about the whisky. I had no clue it would be so different - after all, it's all the SAME brand! Tastes the same, right? Oh, no. Not at all.
I was surprised right off to see that the colors were so different. These bottles were all cask strength, bottled right from the cask, without coloring or additives or any kind of altering. And the colors ranged from very pale yellow to deep reddish brown - all depending on what sort of casks they had been in. Many of the older vintages were from sherry casks (incredibly yummy!) which gives a very deep caramel color.
And the flavors? Way different. Each and every one. Ok, some were similar, but generally very distinct from each other. We were each given a small brown bottle to make our own blend - if we didn't want to drink all the whisky we were given (and you'd get *very* drunk if you did that) you could pour them into the bottle and make a custom blend. My whisky-nerdy friend paled when I told her this. I just thought it was kind of neat. And I still have that bottle - will drink it eventually, for a special occasion. It's very good, even though it's technically "just" 28 years old, since that was the youngest vintage that went in. The real enthusiasts brought tiny bottles for each and every vintage...
Most important then. Which one was the best? Well, I want to say that MY vintage (1976, which is also by the way George S Grant's vintage!) was the very best, but I have to admit that my very favorite was the 1960. It tasted of exotic fruits and had a very special aftertaste. Definitely not like anything else I've ever tried! Sadly, I'm not likely to ever get to try it again. If you get a chance to try any of the Glenfarclas Family Casks - I say go for it! It's an experience you're likely to remember for a very long time!
A big thank you to Sari and Patrik at Philipson & Söderberg for giving me this wonderful opportunity! And, to Henrik and George for sharing their fantastic knowledge!