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13/02/2019

Ode to the Haggis! (And the Glenfarclas Family Cask vintages)

by Katie Withers Green (Private Sales)

I couldn’t think of a better setting for a burns night dinner than Rules restaurant in Covent Garden. Our private room felt like we had been transported up to the highlands with the chequered carpets, cosy atmosphere and even topped off with a chess board with miniature whiskies as pieces in a display cabinet. This served as the perfect location for an evening full of enchanting whiskies and culinary delights. We were honoured to be joined by Callum Fraser, the master distiller from Glenfarclas and Peter Donnelly from Pol Roger both sporting tartan kilt and sporrans.

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Uig Lodge Smoked Salmon

Glenfarclas 25 Year old

I couldn’t think of better way of beginning the proceedings than with a classic from the Glenfarclas core range – the 25 year old. Beautifully balanced with the classic orchard fruit aromas on the nose, the palate oozes delicious chestnut honey with hints of orange. A perfect dram for a perfect Burn’s night setting!

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Cock-a-Leekie Soup with Homemade Sausage Roll

Glenfarclas Family Cask 1999

The first of the Family Casks we were to taste on the evening, the 1999 was a refill sherry butt bottled in 2014 which was one of my favourites of the night. Everything you would want from Glenfarclas, honeyed notes of dark chocolate and toffee on the nose with a peppery fruit bite (no doubt due to its youthfulness) on the palate that develops into more caramel, honey and sweet orange tones.

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Haggis, Neeps & Tatties

Glenfarclas Family Cask 1973

There is something quite amazing about cask strength whiskies that have reduced so much naturally over time. The 1973 came in at just 41.6%, and with little need for the addition of water, the natural reduction intensified classic notes of honeyed apples.  A layer barley sweetness (typical of Glenfarclas matured in 4th fill casks) worked wonders with the earthy haggis which Callum had addressed moments earlier. 

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Tipsy Laird Trifle

Glenfarclas Family Cask 1969

By this point in the evening, there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that we had been utterly spoilt with the food and choice of accompanying spirit. I would be lying if I said I didn’t hear a few groans from several of us when our Tipsy Laird Trifle was placed in front of us, but fortunately we had the Family Cask 1969 alongside it and what a dram it was! Glenfarclas’ delicious sherryness embodied in a dram; beautifully balanced with a spicy kick on the palate was exactly what we all needed to kick on with the evening.

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Cropwell Bishop Stilton

Glenfarclas Family Cask 1956

As if we hadn’t been spoiled enough, we closed off the evening with a whisky that had been aged for almost 60 years! What struck me the most was how well integrated the oak was despite spending such a long time in cask. It was more towards leather and tobacco and spices but remained amazingly fresh at the same time.  Wow! 

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It’s always a pleasure to be immersed in all things Scottish whilst drinking drams of world class whisky. So Callum’s rendition of the Ode to the Haggis – which you may have spotted on the BI Instagram story (we hope he’d washed his hands before!) – was like music to our ears and the whole table got into the swing of it with the Ode to the Laddies and to the Lassies.

Thank you Callum and Peter for imparting your wisdom and some unforgettable stories.  I’d also like to take this moment to thank our guest for helping make Callum and Peter feel at home as it was great to see flashes of tartan around the table.