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 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.

Fettercairn Fior

An eastern Highland distillery poked its head out of the whisky advent calendar this morning. Fettercairn is located approximately half way between Aberdeen and Dundee on the edge of the Cairngorms. I'm not sure it's a distillery that's on the radar of your average whisky drinker but they've rebranded themselves in the last couple of years and are making an assault on the vaunted "luxury market." 

Behind window #15: Fettercairn Fior, 42% alc., £32/$48

C: Copper

N: A quiet one but if you poke your nose about a bit there's beeswax, warm potting soil, freshly oiled leather, and just a hint of dried orange peels 

P: Could be juicier at a higher strength, as it is there are suggestions of red fruits (a bit of strawberry, perhaps) with honey and some cereal notes

F: Short with hints of caramel, honey, and mini strawberry tarts

In conclusion: I've had some good Fettercairns in my time but this isn't one of them, I'm sorry to report. It's just so flat and uninteresting. I'd hate for someone to taste this and then write off the entire distillery (although it would be tempting to do so). If this is Fettercairn's attempt to enter the luxury market they've got a long slog in front of them.

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

Jura Superstition

This no age statement release from the Jura distillery (situated on the wee island to the north of Islay) supposedly contains whiskies in the 13-21 year old range with 13% of the vatting being peated malt. Those are higher ages than your typical non-age statement (NAS) release and given the price I find it highly doubtful that the components are that old.

Behind window #14: Jura Superstition, 43% alc., £27/$41

C: Amber

N: Three distinct layers: very briny on top -- burnt green sticks, window putty, wet cardboard, and (here comes a weird one) diaper cream (and not in a bad way!) in the middle -- very subtle notes of strawberries, butterscotch, toasted almonds and mallow 

P: Wet straw, more wet cardboard, wholewheat toast, a little woody, a little nutty

F: Short and a little briny with the slightest suggestion of warm toffee

In conclusion: Just not for me, I'm afraid. There are Jura lovers in this world but I'm not among them.

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

GlenDronach 12 Year Old

Aberdeenshire's GlenDronach distillery, originally known as "Guid Glendronach," was purchased in 2008 by the BenRiach Distillery Company (who added Glenglassaugh to their stable of distilleries in 2013). Their 12 Year Old is matured in a mix of Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. 

Behind window #13: GlenDronach 12 Year Old, 43% alc., £29/$44

C: Color

N: The malted grain takes center stage but there's a good, clean rubberiness and fruity notes, too, suggestion of brown sugar with cumin edges -- the brown sugar develops over time

P: There's a lovely strong coffee punch before more malted grain enters the fray, yeasty and bready with some oak towards the back of the palate

F: Short to moderate, pleasantly warming and sweet with whispers of Fox's Turkish Delight in the very back -- the brown sugar becomes more pronounced as time passes

In conclusion: After the disappointment of last week's Dalmore 15, this GlenDronach shows what competitively priced sherry whisky has to offer regardless of chill filtering and entry level alcohol strength. Worth investigating.

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