About this blog:

This blog will feature tasting notes, reviews, distillery visits and whisky news with focus mainly on Scottish single malts. This will sometimes be accompanied by politically incorrect (whisky) opinions. You have now been warned! :-)
The views expressed here are entirely my own, unless otherwise stated.

Friday, 1 June 2012


Monday 7th of May saw us visiting Glenfarclas for the ever popular event of picking the next cask for their family cask series. This year, a 1997 vintage was up for picks. A large event - around 40 people - saw us spilt into 2 groups before heading on a tour around the distillery of the 'Valley of the green grass'.
As opposed to certain other distilleries, there are no fumes at Glenfarclas (not true, of course), so pictures were allowed to be taken so I'll just add a couple below ;-) (A big hint at the not so independent distilleries).

Running at full capacity now, Glenfarclas produces 3.000.000+ liters of spirit annualy now and are -as others- always looking to up their production as demand, especially from the Far East is continuing to rise. Latest news on the Glenfarclas site speaks of warehouse expansion plans for 3-4 new rows of warehouses and a new waste water purification reservoir on site...

But lets have a few pictures and then head on to what this event was all about...

The Glenfarclas washbacks were being cleaned with high pressure hoses during our tour (out of sight) - May 2012 © The Malt Desk

Pair of stills - Glenfarclas still directly fires their stills as one of the few remaining distilleries in Scotland - May 2012 © The Malt Desk

Warehouse No. 1 - Oh, what treasures inside... - May 2012 © The Malt Desk

Beautiful old casks maturing in Warehouse No. 1 - May 2012 © The Malt Desk

Now, we had better not loose focus on what we actually came to Glenfarclas for...
We were given 6 samples from casks previously chosen by Manager George Grant himself.

They were:
  • Sherry butt#484 from 10.02.1997
  • Sherry butt#2239 from 26.03.1997
  • Sherry hogshead#4003 from 05.05.1997
  • Plain butt#5374 from 05.06.1997
  • Refill hogshead#5979 from 23.06.1997
  • Sherry butt#4565 (4th fill) from 19.05.1997
No abv% was disclosed on any of the casks samples

The order here corresponds to the samples poured in the glasses below...

The bottles containing samples from the 6 casks - May 2012 © The Malt Desk

The samples poured - left to right as mentioned above... - May 2012 © The Malt Desk

Here is my notes on the whiskies (left to right):

First, I started off with a quick nosing of all of them and already then picked 2-3 favorites - lets see if they followed through on the palate.

Sherry butt#484:
Burnt sugar, caramel, spicy, nuts? palate unfortunately has hints of sulphur but also gives of a full malty front and a very vinous finish. Decent, but not a favorite.

Sherry butt#2239:
Again caramel, but more a heavy fudge style and some honey and dried fruits. This has a significant tannic hit, IMO and puts me off to a side track. Some rubber? Also very decent and better than #484 in my book.

Sherry hogshead#4003:
A buttery and creamy nose, dry and fruity, with oak, nuts, light coat of sherry, coffee, dessert cabinet? vanillas? Now we're moving into my territory

Plain butt#5374:
Extremely delicate nose, a little flowery, vanilla, honey, candied white fruits in a light layer of oak, gentle malt and some citrus and hint of shortbead - love this one! a contender for sure!

Refill hogshead#5979:
If this was a refill hoggie, I would have liked to have seen the impact this cask had when it was a 1st fill !! Anyway, a quick nosing indentified this one as my favorite to begin with - atleast on the nose. Dried fruits, spices, chocolate, coffee allsorts like in a starbucks, heavy and ultra clean oloroso sherry. Nutty, amaretto dessert and well balanced oak in a loooong aftertaste. It followed through beautifully on the palate. This is certainly my favorite so far!

Sherry butt#4565 (4th fill):
My first impression was that this is one weird cask, its got some of the same qualities as #5374 in some way, but twisted 180° in the opposite direction - wont bother with notes here as this was clealy my off cask for the day - no harmony in my book, sadly :-(

The scores were then collected from all the participants and George Grant were off to count the votes... the talk started flying across the room about favorites and it seemed many agree on the same one - and a few were complete in disagreement as always :-)

10mins later George returned with the result and it was a clear win for.... :

George Grant announcing the winner... - May 2012 © The Malt Desk
Refill hogshead#5979 to be bottled later in 2012 as the Glenfarclas Family Cask Vintage 1997

...also my personal favorite of the lot... :-)

I actually had the plain butt#5374 as 2nd and quite liked the more laid back and bourbon cask style of this one. Its ranking was never revealed, though.

The event ended with all participants getting a voucher for £19.97 off the Vintage 1997 when its ready... :-)

Thanks to George Grant and all others at Glenfarclas for a great event!

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