Thanks to my buddy John for sharing this dram with us.
In October 1914, a German army would take control of Vimy Ridge. This ridge gave them a ten kilometre view around it, naturally giving the German army an advantageous location to defend it.
During the next couple years, many lives were lost over this ridge. The French were able to capture it once, however unable to hold it. In all, approximately 150,000 casualties came from attempting to take back this ridge.
The British took over the sector in February 1916, however were not able to change the situation, losing many men in the process.
In October 1916, the Canadian Corps took over, and began planning.
What few people outside of Canada realize is that we were a very young country at this point. So much so, the four Canadian divisions had not fought together, even though the War to end all Wars had gone on for over 3 years at this point.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge happened from the 9th to the 12th of April, 1917. Through a mixture of extreme planning on the parts of Canadians and failure of the German defence, Canadians took Vimy Ridge, which was held until the end of the Great War. Canadian’s suffered 10,602 casualties during the battle, and the amount of Germans was high as well, though not recorded.
While the strategic importance of taking the ridge is contested, and it’d be silly to argue that this was a minor battle in the grand scheme of the war, Rather it has since been shown as an achievement for Canada and is viewed a turning point by some historians point to as the coming of age for Canada in the later 20th century.
I won’t be discussing the monument, or if it’s importance came later or at the time, or the arguments put forth by smarter people. Rather, I take time to explain why Glenfarclas 15 Vimy Ridge was created.
Regardless of how I feel about the whisky, I am thankful for the brave men and women who died at the battle during the War that should have ended all wars.
So, this being the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge, Glenfarclas dedicated a bottle to the 48th Highlanders, a Toronto-based regiment that fought in Vimy Ridge.
So let’s see how the whisky itself tastes, shall we?
Price: $153.95 CAD at the LCBO
Colour: 5Y 9/8
Nose: Honey, lemon parfait, moss, eucalyptus, cherry
Lighter, less sherry strong nose on this one. Blind I’d guess it was sherry finished, not sherry matured.
Some nice herbal notes come out on this one. Takes quite a long time for sherry/red fruit elements to show up.
Taste: Strawberry, grass, anise, brown sugar, lemon
More sherry dominant here. Again, would have guessed finished instead of matured at this point. Nice strong flavours. Alcohol by volume is a proper amount, and water doesn’t really open up too much here.
Like the acidity here to round it all out.
Finish: Grass, tobacco, oak, vanilla, cherry
Finish has some tobacco here, and my bias is noted here. Tobacco was quite heavy. And again, it tastes more like a lighter ex-bourbon cask than a sherry matured malt.
Conclusion: I kept my typical humour out of this review as the topic deserves respect. World War One was where a lot of people realized that war was not the romance and beauty, and rather a disgusting waste of human life. It’s dedications like this that remind some of us to look back on that, and avoid it in the future.
That said, this is still a whisky. If you buy this because you want to remember a horrible battle and honour the dead, then go right ahead.
As for the whisky inside, I still feel a need to review it.
This tastes younger and different than other Glenfarclas 15 I have had. I respect the LCBO for allowing this to be cask strength, as it needs it. It’s subtle, and doesn’t taste like a sherry matured malt.
Going into this, I wanted a sherry bomb. Or expected that. Instead I ended up with a grass, tobacco forward malt with light sherry notes. I think some of the casks used needed some more time, in general. If you’re a fan of the typical Glenfarclas profile, this may throw you off, so it’s a pass for that reason. However if you feel there’s too much sherry and/or love grassy malts, then this is a no-brainer.
Scotch review #704, Speyside review #195, Whisky Network review #1165