Don’t judge a book by its cover. This famous adage is so often verified, in the normal life as well as in whisky. This metaphorical phrase means one should not judge the worth or value of something by its outward appearance alone. For a bottle of whisky, because well, that’s the only thing that matters in this humble blog, the outward appearance can be many things. The colour of the liquid, the packaging, the label, the shape of the bottle, its embossing, or the label’s embossing. And in a way, even the name and the price. All these elements can influence your opinion about a whisky before having even nosed it and had any drop pass your lips. Whisky makers, be it distilleries, bottlers, blenders, all know that, and for many of them, the marketing departments run full steam in order to find the perfect combination. They hope that the untrained whisky drinker might judge positively a bottle he or she is yet to try, and then loosens the purse strings in order to acquire this bottle. If the bottle is beautiful, or its label, it might be good whisky, right? And that deep dark colour must mean it’s old or heavily sherried, right? Or a nice looking bottle, with a wooden box or any other expensive looking packaging might lead you to expect something as premium inside the bottle as it looks on the outside. Why am I talking about this? Well, read my review of this Glenfarclas 1971 All Malt Unblended and you’ll know.
Glenfarclas 1971 All Malt Unblended Review
This Glenfarclas was distilled in 1971 and bottled as soon as 1976, at just 5 years of age. Despite what you’d think seeing its colour, this was matured in sherry casks (not much more details though). This was specially selected for Terni Import in Italy, and Imported for them by agents, Co. Import, Pinerolo. This 750 ml bottle, as they used to be at the time, was filled at 40% ABV, which was also pretty usual. The label shows the Glenlivet suffix still used next to Glenfarclas, and features a big red G at the center. The bottle itself is closed by a corkscrew. Your only chance now to taste this is either find a bottle at auction, or find it in a whisky bar. I’ve tried this whisky in early August at the Golden Promise bar in Paris, and paid 15€ for one centilitre, as an opening dram for my evening.
Very ripe fruits appear first with quince and apricot. This is quite pure, with barley shining through. Then tropical fruits appear, with mango, guava and pineapple dipped in honey.
Very fresh on the palate as well, fruity, with some vivacity despite the low ABV. It moves then to ginger and citrus notes, barley like on the nose, before peppery notes appear to add a bit of kick. Finally, the first note from the sherry casks reveals itself with rich Jaffa cakes.
Jaffa cakes again, fresh fruits, and slightly underripe mango, with a medium to long length.
Whisky enthusiasts and bloggers often complain about the addition of caramel, myself included. Here, the colour made me think this Glenfarclas was matured in bourbon casks, and for a good moment I couldn’t find any of the usual sherry markers. And even after Salvatore from La Maison Du Whisky told me it was sherry matured. This Glenfarclas despite its young age in oak casks and long time in glass was still very fresh, fruity and summery. It was not the most complex Glenfarclas I’ve tried, but I don’t care. This allowed me to have a view of an old school Glenfarclas, young and different. A fantastic experience even though the whisky was good, but not great. I’ll look for one on auction anyway and might go for it if not too expensive.
Bottle photo: Whisky-Auctioneer