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type retrograde minute and hour indicator, and the Metiers d’Art, which became a continuous series of themed collections depicting dazzling enamel artwork and engraving. In 2005, to celebrate its 250th year, the house released the one of the most complicated wristwatches in the world, the Tour de l’Ile, which was made up of 834 parts and featured 16 different complications. Since then, there seemed to be a deluge in creativity at Vacheron Constantin. In the years that followed, the manufacture unveiled some of the most interesting and innovative pieces in the market: Released in 2008, the Quai de l’Ile stands for the efforts the brand has made to showcase a new watchmaking aesthetic. Bra nd ish i ng it s new cabi not ier department, the manufacture created a unique watch that can be personalised by choosing components from a large selection of options. With a revolutionary case of seven main parts, a choice of three metals (pink gold, pa l lad iu m a nd t ita n iu m) a nd t h ree dials featuring topsecret security printing technology, the watch can be assembled in nearly 400 different combi nat ions. T he Quai de l’Ile comes in an automatic with date powered by the calibre 2460 SC and one with a day-date and power reserve, housing the calibre 2460 QH.

Unique pieces (from top): the Malte Moonphase collection incorporates a variety of finishes on the dial; the Overseas line is among the few in the market that have antimagnetic inner shielding. 16

Another line with an impressive fol low i ng is t he Pat r i mony Trad it ion nel le, wh ich wa s f i rst introduced in 2007. This is widely held as the collection that testifies to the brand’s technical and aesthetic prowess, mainly for the simple yet exquisite workmanship that show off the manufacture’s most beautiful historical models. It was early this year that the company introduced the new Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph, featuring the renowned calibre 1141, a self-winding column-wheel movement with 42-hour power reserve, celebrated not only by Vacheron Constantin but many other watchmakers for its superb construction. A n d t h e n j u s t r e c e n t l y, t h e M a lt e Moonphase Power Reserve was launched, 10 years since Vacheron Constantin launched the collection, with its first in-house tourbillon and

HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010

 SINGLE MALTS

the extra shilling would be too much to pay but, whatever dictates applied, this transaction is a fine example of why we Scots have a business reputation for being astute to the point of theft. A single bottle of their superb 2005 bottling, or “expression” as Glenfarclas call it, “50 year old” would, for example, fetch nearly twelve distilleries at present day prices. Indeed, the distillery has remained a family-run business ever since and the Grants have recently admitted to the taxman that they have recovered their initial investment although they remain cautious about actually declaring a profit. Speyside malts are rightly famous and with water gathered on the slopes of Ben Rinnes’ 2,700 ft peak and filtered by heather, granite and peat before springing back to the surface, Glenfarclas is a distinctive example of the great whiskies that emanate from the North East of Scotland. These Speyside malts are as distinct from their western cousins as caramel is from butterscotch in that they are evocative of that fine Scottish description, “the same but different”. One knows that the same essential ingredients are used but the final product, with only a small amount of finishing, would defy this knowledge. The underlying peat taste remains but it is in no way dominant and the saltiness of the Islay or Campbelltown malts is entirely absent. There are a large number of expressions but two that I have sampled are the 12-year-old and the glorious 30-yearold. The former is aged in sherry casks and this combined with the spring water has produced a delight that is a fine introduction to the freshness, slight smokiness and lingering sweetness that is both typical of and delighting about many Speyside malts. However, it is when one encounters the 30-year-old that one appreciates the glorious heritage that remains in the hands of the Grant family. This dark golden malt is so rich, spicy and sweet of flavour that it has been compared to distilled Christmas cake. Indeed, the finish is of such length that Easter might speed by before it completely leaves the palate. Truly deserving of the awards that it has won all over the world, this bottling should be sampled wherever it is, all too rarely, found. I would be delighted to describe the taste of the celebratory 50-year-old that was bottled in 2005 to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of John Grant, but the only two bottles that I know the whereabouts of (there were only one hundred and ten produced) belong to a particularly curmudgeonly associate of mine. His consistent reaction to my oft-made suggestion that we should “share a drop” is reminiscent of Saint Peter’s rush to breakfast after leaving Gethsemane, and I hold no great hope of this changing. If, however, Paul of Tarsus was heading east on the A95, I believe that he might truly experience another conversion as he encountered the “Miracle on the road to Dufftown” that is Glenfarclas. Although, unlike the ABC minors, it would be with a snifter rather than a bang.

Glenfarclas,

West of Dufftown

Whisky editor John Bruce on this Speyside special “We love to laugh and have a sing song, such a happy crowd are we, we’re all pals together, the minors of the ABC.” manual-windng chronograph with perpetual calendar. The tonneau-shaped Malte Moonphase Power Reserve comes with a movement based on the manual winding in-house calibre 1400. The case is a generous 39x49x13mm, a little bit smaller than the Tonneau Chronograph and Tourbillon Regulator. And as with the entire collection, the brand shows much talent in incorporating a variety of finishes on the dial. For 2010, Vacheron Constantin has decided to go for the ultra waif look. A sneak peek at its SIHH novelties reveals that house has revived some of its finest and thinnest movements from the 1950s and 1960s for its Historiques collection. The brand considers the 20th century as its “Golden Age” for ultra-thin watches, and it is from this period that it has chosen to conjure its latest pursuits: The Ultra-fine 1955 is equipped with the handwound 1003 movement, which comes in a thickness of 1.64mm (about the size of a 20-cent coin), making the watch, at 4.1mm, the thinnest in the world. The Ultra-fine 1968 features the automatic 1120 calibre, with a new decorated oscillating weight. Both watches bear the Geneva Seal and were developed at Vacheron Constantin’s historical L’Ile facility. Wit h developments t hat have wowed aficionados, impressed experts and swayed critics, I believe that the essence of Vacheron Constantin’s staying power is fuelled by its motto, “Do better if possible and that is always possible.” With such a close connection to its past and a promising future, it is without a doubt that VC will continue its reign as one of the outstanding pillars of horology. HKGOLFER.COM

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h is was t he happy song ema n at i n g f rom c i nema s around the UK on Saturday mor n i ngs i n t he late 60 s a nd early 70s as t hree hours was ded icated to kids’ entertainment. There was some live entertainment and also a few cartoons but there was always the “big film” and the one that has stuck in my mind for many years is 1969’s Krakatoa, East of Java. There were a great many children who didn’t sleep after seeing Hollywood’s rendition of the 1883 phenomenon that remains the biggest volcanic eruption in modern history. What brought this to mind was my research into the location of Glenfarclas distillery in Speyside. Looking at it on the map, I thought that ‘West of Dufftown’ was adequate for the purpose but the description brought to mind a wee fact that came to light in response to the success of the film; Krakatoa was actually west of Java. Apparently the film company realized their error during pre-release publicity but decided that the exoticism of the East outweighed the need for geographical accuracy. Some eighteen years prior to the big bang (not something that the physicists at the Large Hadron Collider will ever say) John Grant purchased the Glenfarclas distillery for the sum of five hundred and eleven pounds and nineteen shillings. An interesting task would be to research what rule of the Exchequer dictated that HKGOLFER.COM

HK Golfer・Dec 2009/Jan 2010

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0912Glenfarclas