The two Glenfarclas 28, 1992s I reviewed this week (here and here) were both very good but stopped just short of true excellence in my view. And so it’s time to bring out a guaranteed heavy hitter to close out the year. Not because this year has been anything to celebrate but in the hopes that it might augur better things for next year. This too is a Speysider, albeit a little older and distilled a long time before the two Glenfarclas. This is one of the great Longmorns bottled by Scott’s Selection in 2003 and 2004 for the US market. I’ve previously reviewed the 1968-2003, the 1967-2004 and the 1968-2004. This is the youngest of the set, distilled in 1971 and bottled in 2004. (The other in the group is the 1967-2003 of which I have a bottle in reserve.) Like most of the great Longmorns of that era, this features a heavy dose of fruit, most of it tropical. I know this because this is not my first bottle. These were all still widely available when I first began to buy a lot of whisky and I bought a pair each of this and the 1968-2003. The first bottle was finished before I launched the blog; here now is the second. My spreadsheet tells me I paid all of $162 for this back in December 2011. Those were indeed the days. Here’s to better days in 2022 as well.
Longmorn-Glenlivet 1971-2004 (53.5%; Scott’s Selection; from my own bottle)
Nose: A big burst of fruit, mostly acidic at first with tart apple and cider. Through all of that emerges a big vein of passionfruit and some overripe plantain. With time there’s some vanilla-cream in there as well. The fruit gets muskier and more intense as it goes. With a few drops of water it turns into full-on tropical fruit punch with fermented pineapple, mango and passionfruit.
Palate: Comes in with oak and spice and then after a few beats there’s an explosion of fruit: apples, peaches, guavas, passionfruit; a little mango and pineapple. The oak is still present around the fruit. The fruit intensifies seemingly with every sip and it’s more acidic too with time. The oak and the fruit begin to meld. Okay, a few drops of water now. Ah yes, even better balance now between the tropical fruit and acid and oak, with some malty sweetness emerging as well.
Finish: Long. The fruit builds and the oak builds with it, turning a little bitter. With more time the fruit trumps the oak. As on the palate with water.
Comments: I don’t know that this year deserves this as its close-out whisky (well, on this blog anyway) but we’ve got to get our kicks where we can. I loved this the first time I tried it more than a decade ago and I love it even more now. Then I thought the fruit was almost over the top; now this is one of my absolute favourite profiles in malt; indeed, the only one I like better is the richer, sherried version which also finds its apotheosis in other old Longmorns of this period. Well, I do wish I had another bottle saved because this one is not going to last long.
Rating: 91 points.