Glenfarclas week started out with a 15 yo on Monday, which I thought was good but nothing very special. In the middle on Wednesday was a 21 yo that I thought was excellent. Let’s close the week out now with a 42 yo. This was distilled in 1970 and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t consider buying it when it was released by K&L back in 2012. 1970 is when I was distilled as well and I was on the lookout then for 1970 vintage whiskies to buy and stash for my 50th birthday. But the price was quite high—$500+, I think (and it got quite a bit higher later)—and given my general allergy to K&L’s marketing blather, I decided not to take the chance; especially, as I’d purchased this Tomatin 40, 1970 for quite a bit less for the same purpose a year prior. I then forgot about it until it showed up unexpectedly last month in a box of samples from Sku—also the source of Monday’s 15 yo. I’m very interested to find out now if I should have grit my teeth back then and paid the high tariff. Let’s see.
Glenfarclas 42, 1970 (56.9%; Family Casks; first-fill sherry cask #2030 for K&L; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Rich and dark with figs, cherry, cola concentrate, marmalade, soy sauce etc.: the whole dark sherry combine. A bit brighter on the second sniff with tangerine peel and apricot jam. No sign of tannic oak in the early going, which is good. Hmm with a little bit more time there’s a sourness which might foretell some heavy tannin action on the palate—let’s see. With more time there are some softer notes of toffee and cereals. Fruitier with time. A few drops of water and…I’m not really registering anything beyond a slight muting of what was there before—some pencil lead maybe. As it sits again the fruit returns with more cherry now.
Palate: No, no heavy tannin action—not at first anyway though it is darker with coffee grounds, dark chocolate, some pipe tobacco, dried tangerine peel. What I’m most struck by is that the texture is a bit thinner than I expected at 56.9% though the alcohol bite is definitely there. On the second sip there’s more obvious oak and though I feel a bit of furring in my mouth it’s not overbearingly tannic. The fruit expands here too with time and gets a touch tropical: mango leather along with the figs and dried tangerine peel; some concentrated soy sauce to go with it. The texture improves as well and the tannins recede. Okay, let’s add water. The fruit is still here but it is much drier and sourer now and my mouth begins to fur up as I swallow.
Finish: Long. Generally follows the palate from beginning to end with no new development as such; no major tannic hit here either. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is very, very good whisky indeed—it does my birth year proud. That said, this stops just short of being a world-beater. The palate does not fully deliver on the nose’s early promise—the fruit doesn’t explode and there isn’t enough development—and then it gets more tannic with water. To a large degree, quibbling about 90 point whiskies is a fool’s errand, but considering I paid quite a bit less a couple of years later for this monster of a Longmorn, I’m not disappointed I didn’t shell out the big bucks for this one—birth year or no. If you do have a bottle and haven’t opened it yet, I’d urge caution with water.
Rating: 90 points.
Thanks to Sku for the sample!