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.

The Girvan Patent Still Proof Strength

Nice to see a grain whisky show up in the Whisky Advent Calendar (and at cask strength, to boot!). The Girvan distillery, situated on Scotland's southwest coast is owned by William and Grant Sons. Since 2007, it has also housed a single malt distillery, Ailsa Bay. Patent stills differ from pot stills in a number of ways. I'm not going to go into it here but you can read much more here. On to the tasting.

Behind window #18: Girvan Patent Still Proof Strength, 57.1% alc., £62/$92

C: White tea

N: Leads with the anticipated vanilla notes but there's shortbread and oak immediately following

P: Pleasantly sweet and textured with vanilla ice-cream and Custard Creams, little bit of white pepper coming in behind the sweet

F: Decent length with lingering sweetness, crystalized ginger, and vanilla custard

In conclusion: A solid introduction to grain whisky and well worth sharing with friends looking for a break from the whisky norm.

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

That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Arran Batch #4

Started in 2012, Master of Malt's That Boutique-y Whisky Company very quickly made a name for themselves with their small batch releases of single malt, blended Scotch, Scottish grain, American and Indian whiskies. Their non-age statement 50cl bottlings with esoteric, graphic-novel style labels and cask strength contents really offer something for everyone. Well worth putting them on your whisky radar if they're not already on it.

Behind window #11: That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Arran Batch #4, 52% alc., Sold Out

C: Extra virgin olive oil

N: Fresh and piney with grapefruit, artisanal sea salt, and unused pencil erasers 

P: Continues with the fresh theme (more grapefruit, some grassiness) but now adds a crisp maltiness to the mix, quite chocolatey as it transitions into the finish

F: Moderate length with continuing grassiness, dark chocolate bitterness, and a touch more sea salt

In conclusion: A very fun Arran that, while demonstrating some of Arran's core characteristics (citrus, sea salt, malt), is a bit of a break from the norm. Such an enjoyable combination of casks!

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