...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Birthday Booze: Glenfarclas 43 year old Cognac Cask matured

I interrupt your regularly scheduled Highland Park cluster program with birthday booze! Sorry, folks, it's an annual thing. There will be both curios and sensible choices this year. Today's whisky fits into both categories.

Bottled in May of 2010, thus distilled in 1967 or earlier, this Glenfarclas comes with a label that doesn't specify whether the whisky spent its entire life in cognac casks or just a smaller portion of its maturation time (though it may be related to this bottling). Having now completed the tasting, I'm going to posit that it very well may have been the former. It is unlike any whisky or brandy I've tried.

Distillery: Glenfarclas
Ownership: J&G Grant
Region: Speyside (Central)
Age: minimum 43 years old (1967? - 14 May 2010)
Maturation: Cognac casks
Outturn: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 40.7%
(from a bottle split)


It's a lovely, earthy, old hybrid spirit in the nose. At first, it's papaya, toffee, toasted walnuts and toasted oak. Then it picks up notes of Sauternes and dried cheese. (No I'm not going to say "rancio".) Then dried rosemary and coriander. After an hour it's funky honey and a worn out dollar bill.

The palate begins with gentle old oak, honeycomb and ripple of lime zest. Then, for almost twenty minutes, it is liquid honey. At the 43-ish minute mark, it shifts gears, taking on black licorice, dark chocolate and menthol, with hints of cigarettes, apricots and loquats in the background. The figs arrive, floating around in then honey after an hour.

It has a long full finish with the figs and honey arriving after the first sips, 30 minutes in. Bitter chocolate-covered pennies and sweet oranges appear later on.


I wonder if the whisky world will ever see anything like this again. If so, it would have to come from a relatively independent distillery like Glenfarclas. Hopefully someone tries it, because the resulting quality of this experiment was very high.

Like the ultra-aged G&M Glen Grants, this Glenfarclas registers gloriously rich even at 40.7%abv. It was almost profanely honeyed in the mouth; then fruits (figs and -quats), ancient oak and a puff of smoke join in, making each small sip fascinating. But that's nothing compared to the nose, where it was a glass-bound but puckish changeling, destined to sprout wings and fly away if I let it sit any longer.

Which is to say, I kinda liked the stuff.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - About 3x-4x its original price. Time machine, people!
Rating - 92