Partagas Lusitania (LOM Oct 13) – Glenfarclas 40-Year-Old Malt Whisky - Sullivan's Cove Double Cask XO Brandy
Time of writing, we are nearing the third State of Origin game, which will most likely see the glorious Queensland Maroons lose only their third series in the last 749 years. I thought we’d go down 3-0 but against all odds, we were magic in that first game and got home. I had decided that, as it was likely to be a miserable evening with the footy, I should smoke and drink well.
I went back to that gorgeous box of Partagas Lusitanias from 2013 and decided to go old malt – and in keeping with the double act, the Double Cask XO Brandy from Sullivans Cove.
I had been looking at various malts, blends and bourbons for another project and this included looking through the amazing array of aged malts offered by Glenfarclas. They also have an extraordinary collection of vintage-dated malts, going back decades.
A Speyside distillery which dates back to the 1830's, although there is evidence that there may have been distilling as far back as the 1790’s (possibly not in the most legal of manners), the Grant family purchased it in 1865, for £511. They still own it and run it.
Glenfarclas offer numerous aged Malts – 8, 10, 12, 15, 17, 18, 21, 25, 30 and the fabulous 40-Year-Old. There is also the ‘105’, a Cask Strength whisky at 60% (most of the rest range between 40 to 46%, 46% being the 40 and 15-Year-Old).
The 40-Year-Old won "Scotch Whisky Single Malt of the Year" in 2011, at the 17th Annual Malt Advocate Whisky Awards.
In addition, should you have a lazy £100,000/A$230,000, the Glenfarclas Family Cask Trunk can be yours. Inside the trunk are fifty 200ml bottles of Glenfarclas vintage-dated malts, representing every year from 1954 to 2003. Only sixty trunks are available worldwide, though future releases are anticipated. But that, as the steak-knife ads say, is not all. Four tumblers, four nosing glasses and a water jug, all Glencairn Crystal, with four slate coasters and three leather-bound books – one a history of the distillery, another with George Grant’s tasting notes and the final book, for your own notes. Finally, a replica from a 1791 painting of the distillery, the original of which hangs in their private dining room. It is the oldest known painting of the distillery.
An earlier George Grant, who spent an amazing 52 years on charge of the company, had made the decision to lay down a good quantity of vintage casks. Sales of whisky had declined in the 60s, and the distillery had lost a major client for blending operations, so it was the ideal time for a producer looking to the long term.
There was a previous release, in 2007, of 43 whiskies (it included the 1952 and 1953, now depleted), but the Trunk is even more ambitious. The price back then, for the Collection, was a mere £6,500.
Apparently, this George Grant (the Grant history is littered with Georges) was so convinced that his idea would never succeed that he reportedly went on holidays, rather than attend the launch. Almost immediately, his Japanese distributor faxed, ordering 178 bottles of vintage-dated malts. When they spoke, George asked if such a large order was to cover the next couple of years. He was told that the order was simply from one bar alone. That changed his perspective.
It has been possible to purchase individual bottlings – ideal for anniversaries or birth years. The 1954, for example, is currently available for A$15,000 per bottle. The 1971, which I had the chance to sample recently, is a more modest A$5,500.
The ’71 is a dark amber/teak colour with browns and orange notes, the rim is slightly lighter, as one would expect. The palate was powerful and reasonably spirity (different bottlings do vary but the alcohol level seems to sit between 50 and 57%), with notes of honey, raisins, spices, plum pudding, cinnamon and a smoky honeycomb character. Incredibly complex with a delightfully supple texture and amazing length. Notes of white chocolate and walnuts developed towards the end of the palate. Definitely quite spirity, but a fantastic Speyside whisky. It was aged in a sherry butt. Information suggests that 445 bottles were made – or 459, from yet another source. Suffice to say, quantities are extremely limited.
But that was not up for a drink on the evening.
The 40-Year-Old is equally thrilling. A dark bronze colour with notes of white chocolate, orange rind and nectarines. Complex with depth and warmth. Very supple and smooth with a touch of fire on the finish. Spices, nougat and great length.
It was a brilliant match with the glorious cigar. The Lusi was nutty with almonds and spices. It was balanced and complex, with dense velvety smoke, perfect construction and a lovely caramel note as it progressed. For me, 98.
And for the record, that Tassie brandy was another very fine spirit and went so well with the smoke, but by this stage, the great Gryffindor Maroons had the hated nsw Slytherins on the ropes and my focus my have wandered.
An evening worth a great glass and stellar smoke.