Revisiting K&L Glenfarclas

Glenfarclas distillery was kind enough to air freight out all of our whisky so that it could be here before Christmas, after delays got the bottling process a bit behind schedule. While the whisky physically made it here before the 25th, there's no time to process pre-arrivals during the three busiest days of the year. Therefore, we won't be able to sell any Glenfarclas for the holidays, which is a real bummer. However, that doesn't mean they won't make great New Year's Eve celebration drams. I usually get money for my Christmas gifts anyway, so I'll be looking for some special bottles on the 26th. If you're in the same boat, you might want to consider these two very special whiskies.

After we closed down the Redwood City store last night I popped one bottle from each cask, the 1970 and 1979 vintages. Upon pouring a small glass of each I was instantly transported back to the dark, dank warehouse where we originally found each one. When you pay a lot of money for whisky, as in the $300 to $600 that these two whiskies will run you, you hope that you're getting something incredibly special. When I taste things like Glenmorangie 25 or Macallan 25, I think to myself: "Those are nice." When I tasted each of the Glenfarclas whiskies last night I was in compete and total awe. There is nothing like either of these two whiskies on the market right now and both are ridiculously underpriced for what they are.

Let's start with the 1979. A 32 year old, 4th fill sherry butt that's bottled at 41% cask strength. This thing just made it! Any longer and it would have dipped under 40% and that would have ended our order right there! When you think Glenfarclas, you think sherry. Big sherry is the Glenfarclas calling card. That's why the light color, malty flavor, and subtle nature of the 1979 will throw most drinkers for a loop. Can this really be Glenfarclas? Yes, it can. Not only is it Glenfarclas, it's without a doubt the best Glenfarclas I have ever tasted. It's unbelievably soft on the palate, like liquid velvet, and at first you think it's almost too soft. But then, just as it moves to the back of your tongue, the concentrated flavor of more than three decades of slow, steady, European oak aging begins to make it's way to your brain. Heady caramel, toasted nuts, earthy accents, oils, a hint of rancio, all swirling around before it leaves your palate like a soft whisper. If you've never spent more than $100 on a bottle of whisky, this might be the time to do so. Or, you could always get the Macallan 30 for $1200.

The 1970 42 year old is absolutely dripping with fresh sherry. It's so full of sherry you almost have to laugh. In fact, my co-worker Ryan did laugh as he was pouring it into his glass. "No way!" he shrieked as what appeared to be coffee liqueur came streaming out. Unlike the 1979, the more than four-decade old 1970 is exactly what you think of when you think of Glenfarclas – then turned up to full blast. Big, massive, oozing, chewy, dense, opulent sherry at a whopping 58% alcohol. You immediately think all that sherry will protect your mouth from the fiery heat, but it doesn't. POW! like an old Batman episode. It needs a bit of water and then the party begins. Huge rancio sherry flavors, fudge, cocoa, cakebread, and spice. They don't make whisky like this anymore. Gary Westby had planned to taste and spit as he didn't want to load up before driving home, but there was no way he could spit this out. It went down too easy, he later said. For $600, the 1970 Glenfarclas isn't accesible to everyone. However, this is the type of thing where you find six friends, chip in a hundred each, and split the bottle. Or, you could drop more than $5000 to snag the Macallan 40. It's up to you.

Glenfarclas distillery has stock dating back to the 1940's. It's been owned by the same family for more than 100 years. They make honest, classic, sherry-aged Highland whisky and we were lucky enough to have access to their entire library of casks. These are the two we came back with and they're both stunning. I will be splurging on the 1979 when I get to work today. It will be my Christmas dram for my family this year.

I'm going to leave this on pre-arrival for the next two days if you want to save $20. They should be ready by mid-week.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll