...where distraction is the main attraction.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Single Malt Report: Glenfarclas 105 (again) and the Bastard's Share

If you ever do a little sample swapping with me, you'll see that I electrical-tape the crap out of my sample bottles.  Whisky has a habit of finding its way out of a bottle, no matter what it takes.  When you hear about low-neck fill levels on dusty whisk(e)y bottles, that's due to the good stuff escaping through the factory-sealed cap over time (or it's due to fakery but that's a whole other post), and being replaced by oxygen.  As oxygen fills the sad empty spaces in the whisky bottle, oxidation begins.  And the whisky character changes.

The Angel's Share is the evaporation loss occurred during the cask maturation process.  The Devil's Cut is the loss caused by the oak absorbing the liquid.  I'm sure there's an official name for whisky loss via a poor bottle seal, but I'm going to call it the Bastard's Share.  Because, screw that bastard.

Case in point, my Glenfarclas minis upon purchase:

Note the slightly lower neck fill on the 105.  Sadly, I didn't notice it at the time (this past April).  What I also didn't notice is that the cap was a little loose.  Perhaps a little tightening along with some electrical tape would have helped.  But, again, I was much too excited about having these minis to study them more closely.

Zip forward to this weekend:

There was 39mL of whisky left out of the original 50mL.  A 22% loss.

Not only is it a whisky loss, but oxidation has slowly occurred since its bottling in May 2010.

So if you ever wonder why I tape up my sample bottles (and even some of my better big bottles) like crazy, this situation is the answer.  You must suffocate that whisky until it's time to drink it.

Now, way back in October 2011 I posted a single malt report on Glenfarclas 105.  It was only my ninth report and the tasting had actually happened before I'd ever considered posting whisky reviews.  I drank it out of a wide mouth tumbler in a loud bar.  Nonetheless, I loved it.

I bought this mini so that I could experience the 105 in a quiet home setting.  I also bought the mini because.  Because.

So let's give this oxidized 105 a try!

Distillery: Glenfarclas
Ownership: J&G Grant Ltd.
Region: Speyside (Central)
Age: 8 to 10 years
Maturation: ex-oloroso (and maybe fino) sherry casks
Alcohol by Volume: 60%
(Mini bottled in May 2010)

This thick viscous whisky's color is mahogany awash with ruby.  Considering its strength, the 105 has a surprising lack of burn on the nose.  Instead there's a whole box of plump raisins, along with dried apricots, baklava, and orange zest.  After a while there are some candy notes, like Skittles and bubble gum.  The heat arrives on the palate.  The sherry is so enormous it enters an entirely different dimension.  It starts with a brown sugar delivery, followed by rich thick swirls of dark chocolate, cloves, and pipe tobacco.  Some sweet maltiness still holds tight through all of that.  The finish holds a dry sandy sherry, dark chocolate, and pipe tobacco.  The sweetness lingers endlessly.

WITH WATER (approx. 44%ABV) --
Goes cloudy the instant water hits it.  Dry sherry on the nose, along with cherry cordials and molasses.  Maybe some citrus and floral notes.  The palate turns sweet like a liqueur.  Some molasses, sherry, and black pepper in there.  It finishes peppery and sweet.  A touch of citrus along with a floral flourish.

I liked it better neat.  But the question is, how much of the normal characteristics were corrupted by oxidation?  I'm not that bitter since I still enjoyed it.  My rating doesn't change.

A final note on price.  You should buy this via a UK retailer.  See below.

Availability - Many liquor specialists
Pricing - $80-$90 (US retailers) or $50-$65 (UK retailers, no VAT, before shipping)
Rating - 90