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Glenfarclas distillery (the name means “valley of the green grass”) was first granted a license in 1836 after production had arguably been going on at the same site since 1791. In 1865 it was acquired by John Grant and since then has remained in the hands of the same family. At the moment it is run by both the 5th generation (Chairman John L.S. Grant) and the 6th generation (Director of Sales George S. Grant). Glenfarclas uses an unusually large share of sherry butts, mainly Oloroso, in their maturation process. This sample of a 1971 family cask is from the first release of 2007 and was given to me by a fellow malt enthusiast.
The nose starts off with a load of rubber but in a very decent way. Then it becomes truly rich and sumptuous, releasing flavours of figs, raisins and plums, followed by notes of heavy red wine. With water the dark fruit flavours get more accentuated, and oriental spices make an appearance. A glorious, glorious nose!
The palate is full-bodied and surprisingly spicy, the high ABV making itself felt here. Again there are dark fruits and distinct notes of sherry, alongside liquorice and cinnamon. After a while the palate develops a remarkable spiciness that will not recede, even not with the addition of water.
The finish is long, peppery and spicy. Towards the end a distinct tannic dryness develops, followed by a very sweet sherry note.
I very much enjoyed tasting this sample of a Glenfarclas family cask. As expected the nose was wonderfully sherried and rich but also had a quite sweet note to it. Both palate and finish on the other hand developed a spiciness and tannic dryness that I found astonishing, to say the least. This definitely needs water for the best to be brought out.