Where were you doing this time last month? Last year? 10 years ago? Time passes us by and with little to help us remember the daily happenings, we tend to let them fade, not to memory, but just fade out to nothing, lost and forgotten. It seems of late I have been in a few situations that have caused me to reflect on the passing of time and how we choose to spend it. The launch of Glenrothes Titanic bottling recalling the heroism of Lady Rothes and the worlds highest whisky tasting at the Everest base camp with the never defeated Walking with the Wounded team are just two examples. Yesterday, I received in the post another reminder of our mortality as a sample of 1953 Glenfarclas sat before me. The 5cl sample, presented in an oak box is 58 years old and as the accompanying letter from distillery owner George Grant explained, when it was distilled, he wasn’t even born and his father was just 2 years old.
Glenfarclas has been independently owned since its inception over 175 years ago and although it has had a changed of ownership in this time, it has always remained independent with the Grant family now sixth generation custodians. Known for continuing to produce whisky in traditional ways, even down to direct fired stills, Glenfarclas is well-respected in the whisky community so I was particularly excited to receive this bottle.
The single cask which this whisky came from originally held 500 litres but now only 400 bottles (300 litres) remained and at a healthy 47.2% abv. The cask itself, chosen by a select few including Serge Valentin of Malt Maniacs, Ben Ellefson of Master of Malt, Michal Kowalski from Wealth management and George Grant himself, had previously held sherry and was constructed from American oak. Few whiskies make it this far without being overcome with woody notes and losing the fruity character, and fewer still ever see the light of day anyway, heading straight to collectors’ shelves. Those who know me will be well aware of my thoughts on whisky and its “collectability” and I am sure this 5cl bottle in its nice box which comes with a book by Ian Buxton, will be worth a pretty penny…or it would be if I hadn’t just opened it!
Glenfarclas 1953, 58 year old
First fill sherry butt
47.2% abv, non chill-filtered
Distilled 20th November 1953, bottled February 2012 from cask number 1647
Appearance: Rose gold with bright copper
Nose: Big aromas of fino sherry and “wet & dry” sandpaper opens to phosphorous and sweet toffee dipped hazelnuts. amazingly, the aroma that links the two is of fresh green tomato vine and woody sappy celery which for a whisky of this age is a pleasure to discover.
Palate: undiluted. Initial phosphorous again, laced with rich tobacco and toasted pine nuts. The ever changing and complex palate has earthy, manuka honey richness and dryer notes of mace and white pepper. Its almost like a tasting menu of delicately prepared dishes instead of a drink.
Finish: The sherry notes and spiced oak character take centre stage and linger in a pleasing fashion. I’m starting to salivate again and suddenly in the mood for Iberico pork, fresh summer tomatoes and salted almonds!
If you have a spare few pennies lying around, you can treat yourself to this little bit of history here.
I could of course have held onto this material item and hoard countless similar whisky related ephemera, but just as I explained in my opening paragraph, if we don’t do something amazing every day, time will pass us and one day we might, just might, wonder what we did with it.