So, this is Christmas 2019. A festive period of restraint within my household, given the excesses you could indulge in whisky wise amongst the retailers. I’m sure many of you clocked up more bottles than your local milkman over the same period. Less is more can be a more fruitful approach.
To celebrate the holiday season and 2019, I opted for a modestly priced single cask bottling from a local independent retailer. What distillery captures the essence of this time of year better than Glenfarclas? The family owned ethic? The mantra of sherry casks? The sense of doing things their way and charging their price? In reality, Glenfarclas is all of these things and more. It has that extra factor that you cannot invent via marketing or the worldwide deployment of brand ambassadors. For want of a better word, it has a soul in whisky, which is why so many of us appreciate and support it worldwide.
With so much choice on the shelves nowadays, my own faith in distilleries has been eroded. There are very few that warrant a blind purchase based upon trust and previous form. I’d place Glenfarclas within this dwindling number, including the bonkers single casks that Cadenhead’s and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society periodically release.
Rising prices mean less opportunity to impulse buy. In some cases, the level of demand legislates the need to make quick decisions, or face missing out. A perfect opportunity to say FOMO I suppose, except that saying no and walking away is quite often the bravest and wisest decision of all. I always take comfort that whisky is a monster that continuously needs fed. Something might slip through your fingers one day, but guaranteed, within a week or so, there will be another release to prompt your interest. It all comes down to when you want to buy.
Something I’ve tried to engage in recently, is finishing a bottle before opening another. I’ve been slightly hampered by my #openyourbottles initiative in March. Opening 24 bottles sounds great. It was a merry time albeit the downside was a huge range of whiskies that would go to waste, as I moved onto another opening. More than ever it underlined the need to slow down and appreciate what we already had within a cupboard or stockpile of bottles. Since then I’ve shared, explored and importantly, enjoyed these bottles in my own time and on my own agenda. I’d encourage you to do the same rather than scampering onto the next limited expression, or themed release, with some fancy packaging.
The same ethic applies to this Glenfarclas that was opened on Christmas day and dipped into on a regular basis across the holiday season. It felt like the right accompaniment to proceedings. While the distillery remains on my most trusted list, I’m realistic to admit that I haven’t been swept away by a Glenfarclas for sometime now. I have heard grumbles amongst friends (who often grumble about everything) that today’s produce isn’t comparable with what it once produced. At times I agree with this sentiment and can see its roots in the various changes that the industry has adopted in pursuit of efficiency and margins. Sherry casks aren’t what they once were either in all honestly. Yet in acknowledging all of this pub chat theory, there is enough of Glenfarclas in today’s whiskies to retain hope and interest.
This Glenfarclas is a joint bottling for the Southport Whisky Club and Vino Edinburgh. The label promises that this is the first in a set and the single cask yielded 300 bottles at 48.2% strength. I’d include a link on the Vino website but it isn’t listed – perhaps to encourage you to get down to your local independent shop and see what they have. For just under £50 there’s little to grumble about on paper overall.
Glenfarclas 9 year old Vino Edinburgh – review
Colour: gold leaf.
On the nose: Plenty of orange peel along with raisins and cinnamon. There’s almonds, ginger root and wood shavings. A touch of smoke and a sappy quality keeps the interest level reasonable before red apples and dark chocolate come forth. There’s also fudge, an oily aspect and a touch of rubber. Water showcases Danish oil, palm sugar, some dried yeast and more apples.
In the mouth: I’m pleased the sherry influence is restrained and somewhat pleasant – certainly not 1st fill – and is well integrated with the spirit even after 9 years. Yes, there is a touch of spirit midway showcasing the youthful vitality of this whisky but I appreciate such a feature. There’s orange rind, chocolate and ginger once again. Cracked black pepper, stewed black tea and the sense of simplicity rather than detail. Adding water brings out more juicy fruits as well as grapefruit and lemon peel.
I’m happy with this purchase and as always, I’d refer you to our scoring guide for a helpful hand on when it comes to understanding it all. We’re not in the business of dishing out praise or saying benign things when it suits us or the company providing the sample. This is a good whisky and at the price being asked, more so. That’s nothing more and nothing less than a recommendation.
We seem to be seeing less of these single cask exclusives at retail. I’ve noticed in recent times some of the more regular exponents of this type of format now moving into establishing their own independent bottling lines. The downside being the single cask distillery exclusives are pushed aside and relegated. These ‘store picks’ in the states, as they are known as, are the only way to in some cases to try the oddities, pitfalls and successes of the whiskey industry. Often adorned by some eye-catching artwork as well they are always of interest.
Let’s hope for more single cask exclusives in 2020 and as this is the 1st in a set, that the standard can be maintained. A solid Glenfarclas that has you reaching for another pour soon after.