The 2016 Spirit of Speyside whisky festival has drawn to a close. Followers on my Whisky Rover Instagram channel will have already enjoyed some of the antics as a member of #theTormore4 elite whisky outfit.
We had a fantastic experience whilst on Speyside, commencing on the Thursday until we sadly departed on Monday afternoon. A series of varied events across several days made for a whisky paradise. It’s done for another year and it has left me with a car boot full of bottles, samples, a ton of photographs, knowledge and most importantly new friends. You can expect a series of articles on the various events (including tastings as I was the driver) we participated in and some new whiskies to enjoy.
This all leaves me with the difficult decision of where to start exactly? Upon reflection there was a wonderful symmetry to festival experience I shared with Mark at Malt-Review who was another member of our Tormore team. The first stop on our whisky adventure was Glenfarclas to purchase their 2016 distillery exclusive for the festival. Our team of 4 had decided in advance to club together to purchase this special release to enjoy over a few days back at the cottage.
Glenfarclas was also the last distillery Mark and I visited as we left Speyside on the Monday. Our visit once again prompted a warm welcome from Matthew and a marvellous distillery tour by Stuart, which I’ll cover in due course. This distillery has always been a firm favourite amongst enthusiasts including myself and meeting those behind it only reinforced such feelings.
A local summarised their appreciation of Glenfarclas and the principles it abides by suggesting it is not just family owned but a family run distillery, which is extremely rare nowadays. In comparison William Grant & Sons have done a tremendous job with Glenfiddich and their other interests, but you’re very unlikely to see a member of the family with a hands on approach on a daily basis. Whereas during our visits we briefly met George S. Grant once and the second time he was chairing a nearby tasting. I found such an environment extremely invigorating and reassuring. Here was whisky being made with passion and appreciation for the old ways, as seen during my recent Glenfarclas vertical whisky tasting.
As a reward for visitors to the distillery during the festival they bottle a single cask of Glenfarclas. This is normally sold on a one per person basis and exclusive to the distillery and not online. Yes, unfortunately some will miss out as they are unable to travel to Speyside, but the whisky community as friendly as it is can offer opportunities. For instance I did bring one back for a foreign whisky enthusiast. Last year the edition numbered below 300 bottles whereas this year a larger outturn was available.
My review follows below and it is frankly a lovely whisky. What it also represents is a thank you to fans of Glenfarclas for visiting, as £150 for a 26 year old in today’s bonkers market? For instance the Whisky Shop in Dufftown recently bottled a 1991 single cask Glenfarclas. The price of £200 seems very reasonable but this official festival release is a bargain. With more distilleries in Speyside bottling a special release for the festival, Glenfarclas remains supreme for 2016 at least.
Bottled: 2015 (26 years old)
Outturn: 585 bottles
Strength: 56.3% vol
Colour: old school cola cubes
Nose: a rich luxurious blackcurrant jam and plump raisins, a classic dark chocolate depth followed by black jacks. Then the familiar spice of cinnamon wrapped up in treacle. Capturing the moment with After Eights and all spice.
Taste: this is very drinkable at cask strength, a little bitterness with dark cherries. More sticky treacle combined with more rich oozing dark chocolate. The classic presence of Assam black tea, followed with more raisins and a barrage of mixed peppercorns takes us into the finish.
Overall: well I kind of made my impressions clear in the opening paragraphs. A joy to saviour and appreciate. One that united #theTormore4 in their appreciation of a fine whisky; our friends also approved of their taste as well.