Glenfarclas 105

First bottled in 1968 (what I wouldn't give to get me hands on some of that!) Glenfarclas 105 is an original NAS that is bottled at high strength and well worth your attention. While the casks used are believed to be in the 8-10 year old age range the quality of sherry casks used is unsurpassed in the industry.

Glenfarclas 105, 60% alc., $85-90

C: Copper

N: Xmas cake coming and going (raisins, dark cherries, ginger, nutmeg, and orange zest), also clean rubber notes (like the inside of a dishwashing glove) and cold buttered toast (wholewheat toast given all the malty notes)

P: Huge and explosive, the sweet sherry dominates (more rubber notes crisscross the palate), the wood dries out the palate quite nicely while the orange zest from the nose has become chocolate covered orange peels

F: Long and warming, the alcohol resonates all the way down the throat and into the chest while the bitter wood sits in harmony with the sweet sherry

In conclusion: A benchmark cask strength whisky that should feature in everyone's collection. A personal favorite of mine for almost twenty years.

Dalwhinnie Winter's Gold

Diageo's Dalwhinnie distillery is centrally located and renowned as Scotland's highest (and coldest!) distillery. Cashing in on that has taken a bit of time but finally we have "Winter's Gold," a 2015 release of vatted casks laid down during the winter months and released without an age statement. Given that Diageo's marketing wing recommends drinking this from the freezer we can safely assume that we're dealing with a chill-filtered expression (so the liquid isn't cloudy when it gets a wee bit of a chill). I've never had any success with straight-from-the-freezer dramming so rest assured that this one will be sampled at a pleasant room temperature of 68F (20C).

Behind window #21: Dalwhinnie Winter's Gold, 43% alc., £33/$49

C: Golden (not surprisingly)

N: Quietly floral at the outset with hints of apple and pear, honey, and dried barley -- which is all to say it noses like a young whisky

P: Starts to liven up here with pronounced honey, toasted oats, pear skin, and clove -- credit where it's due, there's more texture than I anticipated despite the chill-filtration  

F: Moderate with lingering spice (cinnamon and clove) and dark honey

In conclusion: After a slow start on the nose the palate and finish really open up. There's a pleasant spiciness that builds on the palate after two or three sips and remains in the back of the throat after a few more. I'm really surprised; didn't think this would be nearly as tasty as it is! Maybe I'll have to return to it and see if the straight-from-the-freezer bit is more than marketing mumbo jumbo.

Sincere thanks to Master of Malt's Drinks by the Dram for the sample.

Jura Elixir 12 Year Old

After yesterday's selection, it's hard not to experience a bit of a let down. The fact that the letdown comes with Jura (not a favorite) makes it even worse. However, it's time to put on my big boy pants and give this a fair shake. Crossing fingers...

Behind window #20: Jura Elixir 12 Year Old, 40% alc., £38/$57

C: Reflective copper

N: There's a jammy sweetness (damson jam) with young wood (cedar and pine), beeswax, and resin, toffee notes around the edges

P: Again with the woody notes, walnuts in toffee, warming spice (cinnamon), and vanilla extract

F: Moderate length with lingering wood notes, some citrus and some nuttiness

In conclusion: If you're a Jura fan you have to be over the moon with this. For a non-Jura fan it's not too bad. I don't see me ever needing to reach for a bottle of it but out for a drink with friends or at a party I would happily sip on this while enjoying some lively conversation.

Sincere thanks to Master of Malt's Drinks by the Dram for the sample.

Mackmyra Brukswhisky

Founded in 1999, Mackmyra, Sweden's first whisky distillery, quickly built a good reputation. First released in 2010, Brukswhisky is mostly first fill bourbon barrel matured stock but there's also some sherry and Swedish oak matured stock in there, too. There's word that some smoky malt (smoked using bog moss and juniper wood) is in the mash bill. Interesting...

Behind window #17: Mackmyra Brukswhisky, 41.4% alc., £33/$50

C: White gold

N: Makes me think of young grain whisky aged in small casks (green, grassy, and lots of oak) with some vanilla and marzipan notes around the edges

P: Light and bright with underripe honeydew melon, more grassy notes, more vanilla, and underlying chamomile tea florals

F: Short with lingering pear notes and vanilla

In conclusion: While a perfectly pleasant light and fruity whisky (if you dig the Lowland style this is in your wheelhouse) it noses and tastes like a very young whisky and, sadly, lacks the smoke I've heard about that would help add a layer of complexity. Like any young distillery it will be worth watching Mackmyra as it grows and builds up its stocks.

Sincere thanks to Master of Malt's Drinks by the Dram for the sample.

The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old

Well, would you Adam and Eve it? Just a week after saying very nice things about The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old in the opening of my Balvenie 15 Year Old review and who should appear in today's whisky advent calendar window? Note that the UK version of DoubleWood 12 Year Old is bottled at 40% alc. while the US version is bottled at 43% alc. (don't ask me why). Buckle up, here comes one of my favorites.

Behind window #16: The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old, 40% alc., £28/$43

C: Light Copper

N: While the bourbon influence frames the whisky, the sherry is never too far away, ripe cantaloupe melon, honey, and a distinct smokiness

P: Rich and spicy, very round on the palate, toasted oak, lots more honey, vanilla, and dried apricots

F: Moderate with luscious fruits (more ripe cantaloupe and apricots), delicate nuttiness, and Garam Masala at the very end

In conclusion: A terrific entry whisky that gives massive bang for the buck. A potentially decadent dessert whisky paired with orange spice chocolate, coffee, and cigars. Not bad for a 40/43% alc. whisky around £30/$45!

Sincere thanks to Master of Malt's Drinks by the Dram for the sample.