On the banks of the northern river Spey lies the fertile valley of Speyside. It is Home to over half of Scotland’s distilleries. Speyside malts are often categorised as lavishly fruity, nutty and light although due to the vast number of distilleries there is a wide range of flavours created in this nook of scotland ranging from light and grassy to rich and sweet.
As my readers know I hold a special place in my heart for Glenfarclas, which in my opinion should be regarded as one of the finest Speyside distilleries. They have consistently released some of the best sherry matured Speysides and have been doing so for over a century. This is nowhere more apparent than in the Glenfarclas Family Cask collection, initially a series of 43 single cask, vintage single malts, spanning five decades. From this series comes the 1991 vintage single malt. Matured in a sherry butt until it was bottled in 2015 at 58%, only 562 bottles were produced.
Nose: Strong notes of nuts and stewed fruit, almonds, chestnuts, plums and cherry. Salted butter and also a slight earthy hint.
Palate: Thick and bold with tones of lovely dried fruits and nuts from the sherry butt; raisins, prunes, figs, walnuts and almonds. A bold chocolate is present as well with a hint of nutmeg.
Finish: Big and fruity with toffee and a rubbery feel.
Each releases in Glenfarclas's Family Cask range is bottled from a single cask, with whiskies going back to the 1950’s through to more recent times. Each one carries an individualistic character, that are always a joy to experience. The 1991 was an absolute beauty and if you have a chance I highly recommend it. Sláinte!
In an effort to bid farewell to Winter and welcome in a new Spring, especially in these difficult times, I could think of nothing better than this fine first-fill sherry cask. Callum Fraser, production manager at Glenfarclas, recommended it to me on my last visit. I was thoroughly impressed by this single cask, distillery exclusive which was distilled in 2008 and whacked into a first-fill Oloroso sherry butt. The cask was specially selected by Archie Jackson, Assistant Distillery Manager, to celebrate his 35 years of service to the distillery. 656 bottles were filled at a hefty cask strength of 64.1%.
Nose: Luscious notes of hazelnuts, pecans, toffee and raisins dominate with lighter notes of peach, chocolate and cedar.
Palate: Thick and bold with flavours of hazelnuts, caramelised sugar and raisins.
Tones of dried apricots and creamy milk chocolate are also present here.
Finish: Bold long finish with oak, more hazelnuts, chocolate and hints of spice.
This bottle is an example of a very well chosen cask; it is abundant in flavour and although it has a very high alcohol strength you wouldn't notice it. As my readers may know I do have a special place in my heart for Glenfarclas, which in my opinion should be regarded as one of the finest Speyside distilleries. They have consistently released some of the best sherry matured Speysides, and have been doing so for over a century. This bottle is quite difficult to get your hands on now, but if you are able to give it a try I highly recommend it. Sláinte!
Today I have a special treat for you all, the Glenfarclas 21 year. This beautiful malt is exclusively matured in ex-oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 43%.
Nose: Wonderfully complex with strong tones of over ripened apples and grapes upfront. Caramel, raisins, prunes and orange zest are here too with hints of citrus, bark, earth and damp leaves.
Palate: Bold inviting tones of caramelized sugar, sultanas, orange zest and toffee dominate. Spice is present as well with pepper, cardamom and nutmeg.
Finish: Bold long finish with plenty of oak and spice. Toffee and dark chocolate are present as well with hints of almond.
I have always loved Glenfarclas and I can honestly say that I have never had a malt from them that I did not thoroughly enjoy. Their 21 year is no different, it has a beautiful depth of complexity to it and when compared to its price tag I think it should be counted as one of the best values on the international market today.
It's always a pleasure to be able to dive into a new expression from Glenfarclas and I was very pleased to have a chance to give this fellow my attention. Introduced as a travel retail exclusive, the Glenfarclas 18 year is matured in european oak ex-oloroso sherry casks and was bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose: Luscious with tones of ripe green apple, honey, citrus, vanilla and sultanas.
Palate: Rich and full with favours of hazelnut, toffee, rum, stewed plum, raisin and a little milk chocolate. Also present is a slight grassy tone with layers of fruit and cream.
Finish: Soft tones of toffee, and sherry spice.
As I have always said, if you're looking for a great Speyside you can't do better than an expression from Glenfarclas. Their sherried malts are rich in flavour and complexity, and are a testament to the devotion to craft of the Grant family. Each of their malts are unique and different and always a pleasure to explore.
Today I’m thrilled to share another one of my staples; a bottle any self respecting single malt connoisseur should adore! The Glenfarclas 12 Year is a phenomenal bottle that was named the "Best Sherried Whisky" in the Single Malt World Cup in 2006 and won the Gold at the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival in 2007 and 2008.
Aroma: Creamy and light with honey, oak and malt tones. Clear soft sherry is present as well with the slightest hint of smoke.
Palate: Oloroso Sherry with notes of date and toffee are very clear with subtle tones of Apple, walnut, a touch of malt and a hint of smoke.
Finish: A gentle but long finish with orange zest, sherry and cinnamon.
I can’t express how much I enjoy this bottle. It has a complexity to it that rivals scotches twice its price and yet there is a soft simplicity there that any whisky lover would adore. Another point to mention is that, although there is a clear sweetness to it, it doesn’t overwhelm the whisky which is not always the case with Speysides.
The magnificent Glenfarclas distillery has been has been operating under license since 1836, and it has been distilling fine whisky for far longer. It’s name means ‘glen of the green grasslands’, and it’s beautiful single malts harken back to a beautiful pastoral bygone age. Their 10 year is a wonderful example of what a good basic Speyside can be.
Aroma: Lots of juicy fruit, sherry, butterscotch, a little honey and a touch of toffee as well as barley.
Palate: Medium bodied with fruitcake, toffee and winter spice. A lite citrus is present as well with a minuscule touch of smoke.
Finish: Long oaky finish with fruit and spice.
The Glenfarclas 10 Year is recommended by its distillers as an aperitif whisky, which I believe is perfect to enjoy this bottle. I think it’s an excellent buy for its price and is a marvelous example of a good old fashioned Speyside. Definitely worth a buy!
Today I picked a rare treat for my readers. The Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask. This rare rum finished single malt has aged in ex-bourbon barrels for 14 years and is then finished for a few months in West Indian Rum Barrels.
Aroma: Soft, tropical air with notes of guava, passion fruit, coconut, hay and toffee.
Palate: Fruitcake-rich but less fruity than you might expect. Vanilla, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and a slight hint of orange.
Finish: A long lingering finish with vanilla and orange.
I’ve always loved Balvenie. To me their bottles are decadent; slightly sweet, soft and wonderful. This bottle, even more than their Doublewood, exemplifies these characteristics. Oddly, the rum doesn’t dominate, instead it creates an engaging balance which I think is wonderful.
As its name suggests the DoubleWood 12 year is aged in two separate casks; it’s first matured in refilled American oak and then it’s treated to nine months of maturation in refashioned casks of Oloroso sherry butts. Released in 1993 it has become Balvenie’s signature.
Aroma: Bold nuttiness and slight fruity notes are intertwined with spice. Honeyed sultanas, cardamum and grapes.
Palate: Noticeable sweetness with a good body. Bourbon characters are very present with gentle vanilla and coconut. The sherry finish brings forth dried fruit, nuts and spice; raisin, sultanas, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Finish: Spicy and slightly drying but still sweet.
The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year is not my favorite malt, but it does have some admirable qualities. It is a great malt for the aspirating connoisseur to delve into the Speyside palate. It carries a breath of smooth fruit tones and a noticeable sherry influence while also being softened with an obvious bourbon sweetness.
Today I’d like to share another great accessible bottle that is a perfect price for an everyday staple and as an entry level single malt. The Aberlour 12 year is double cask matured in Oak and then Sherry. This gives a wonderful fruity and soft character to the whisky.
Aroma: Soft and rounded with strong notes of apple and apricot. Clear sherry, clove and vanilla are present as well.
Palate: A soft but clear sherried character with sweetness and light spice. Hints of ginger, nutmeg, chocolate and apple hold the palate.
Finish: A gentle finish with light spice and dried fruits.
While the Aberlour 12 is by no means my favorite scotch, it is however a great bottle especially when one considers it’s low price point. As I mentioned before it’s an excellent entry level single malt and a great example of what Speyside has to offer.
Aroma: Pungent ripe apple, vanilla and malt lead on to beautiful aromas of dried fruit and mixed nuts.
Palate: Clear notes of green apple with oak and cinnamon. Banana and caramelized pear notes are present as well with a touch of malt.
Finish: A gentle but long finish with orange zest, sherry and cinnamon.
I was impressed by the Singleton Glendullan 12 year. It’s not the most incredible Speyside malt that you’ll ever taste, but when one considers its retail price in relation to its relative complexity, one can see its overall value. It is an extremely fruity single malt, best enjoyed on a summers afternoon as an aperitif. Its fruity character is perhaps closer to its Irish counterparts and would make it an excellent gateway malt for those Irish lovers out there.
Introduced in mid-2018, the Triple Cask line replaced the Fine Oak’s as Macallan’s core range. The range is exclusively aged in a combination of European sherry seasoned casks, American sherry seasoned casks and American ex-bourbon casks. The 15 year is an excellent expression of what Macallan has to offer and should definitely tried.
Aroma: Citrus, chocolate, treacle with hints of rose and cinnamon.
Palate: Inviting rich chocolate with butter and sweet pear. Also present are hints of raisins and oranges.
Finish: Lingering with orange, chocolate and raisins.
I’m quite fond of Macallan. Everyone of their different expressions are like guilty pleasures; rich and decadent, often with a lingering sweetness that makes one reluctant to part from their glass. Though today Macallan can be seen as one of the worlds leading luxury spirit brands it began as an illicit distilling operation on a hillside estate in Speyside (though there is some debate over whether it’s actually a Speyside, Macallan specifies only ‘Highlands’ on their bottles).
An entry level expression from Glen Moray's Elgin Heritage range. This 12 year old Speyside single malt has been aged exclusively in Bourbon oak casks and bottled at 40%.
Nose: Strong vanilla and toffee notes with subtle herbaceous oak.
Palate: Soft and light with vanilla, apple and syrup. A slight note of spice is present as well.
Finish: White chocolate and apricots.
Every now and again, I do try and pick out a good bargain bottle. I think it’s important for the aspiring connoisseurs out there to know that whatever the size of their pocket book they need not be afraid to head to their local whisky shop. I personally am not in love with this bottle, but I think it can be considered a good entry level malt. This is especially true when one considers that it is one of the least expensive scotch single malts on the market today.