Review: GLENFARCLAS 105 Cask Strength – #74 hit

Glenfarclas, my favorite Speyside distillery! I had high expectations for this one, maybe too high!?

My first thoughts were “where did all the alcohol go”? I had some water ready close by in case of emergency but this was clearly not needed. This is without a doubt the smoothest 60% abv. whisky I’ve ever come across. In comparison to Aberlour A’bunadh – another heavily sherried Cask Strength Speyside – this is fruit juice. Okay maybe exaggerated a bit but honestly this is Cask Strength at its smoothest.glenfarclas-105-cask-strength

Since my current Speyside favorite is the 12 year old Glenfarclas I unavoidably start comparing these two editions. I immediately fell in love with the mossy taste of the 12yo but, to my slight disappointment, this is nowhere to be found in the 105 Cask Strength. Still you don’t want the two to taste alike; I mean what is the point to that!? Instead of the mossy heathery taste you have delicious candied black fruits on top of a piercing bed of sherry and spices. It is amazing how different the 105 Cask Strength taste compared to the 12yo. This is not said in a bad way, I really like this dram. It might even be my favorite Cask Strength whisky, primarily because of the extreme sweetness and sherry notes that are dominating the palate.

I ended off by adding some drops of water. I sincerely don’t think this helped, on the contrary It felt more dull. My recommendation therefore is to enjoy Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength neat.

VERDICT: This is definitely the smoothest Cask Strength whisky I have tasted and also one of the few that do not improve when adding water. Sherry is the keyword here, loads of it. I can warmly recommend this Speyside if you are searching for a combination of high alcohol content, sweetness, and loads of sherry.

  (7.6/10)

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Review: ABERLOUR A’bunadh – #9 hit

At cask strength 59.7% abv. (batch No. 28) this whisky is always my pick if I have had a terrible day at work. Without water it is somewhat of a monster; first sip was followed by a massive alcoholic blow accompanied by an enduring burn in my pharynx. After taking another sip the alcohol became less predominant and gave way for a complex mixture of spices, sherry and old oak. Sweet flavors also appeared as vanilla and caramel lingered on the palate. After awhile you get used to the alcohol burning in your thbunadhroat. Nevertheless I decided to add some water this time. I can’t believe that I have had this bottle for over a year and never done that. It changes everything. Both sherry and oak becomes more prevalent and it opens up for different sweet flavors like chocolate and dark fruits that rise above the otherwise gentle notes of vanilla. This is a VERY complex single malt that I can highly recommend. However I would urge people to add some water (and not wait a year until the bottle is almost empty)!

VERDICT: Powerful not only in alcohol but also in taste. It is without a question one of the most complex drams I have encountered and it is definitely not for the weak hearted (unless you pour a good amount of water in your glass).

  (6.9/10)

Review: BENROMACH 10yo – #68 hit

benromach_10So I finally got around to tasting the last bottle of Benromach I had on my shelf. Having tasted the Organic and Peat Smoke editions I had already grown fond of this very small distillery. I did however expect this one to be a bit less interesting. Indeed, it lacks the character found in the special editions but is definitely still worth the money. Like other Speysides it is malty and sweet and opens up with traditional notes of citrus and pepper. Hints of orange peel also appear along with caramel and mild vegetal notes. I tried adding a bit of water which really worked to its advantage. I like it despite its lacking complexity and even though it is nothing extraordinary it still rises above most 12 year old or less single malts available on the market.

VERDICT: A good traditional Speyside.

  (5.6/10)

Review: GLENFARCLAS 12yo – #67 hit

The other day when I bought this 12 year old Glenfarclas I thought I added another Highland single malt to the collection. Then I looked into its background and realized that the distillery is actually deeply rooted in the Speyside region. I find it a bit misleading to state “Highland Single Malt” on the label when it is really a Speyside. Not that it matters much I was just a bit puzzled by that. Anyways I had read several good reviews about this particular bottling on the web and I also noticed that it won gold at the Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival in 2007 and 2008 which in itself was enough incentive for me to run down to the liquor store and spend my last 40 bucks. Was it worth it?Glenfarclas_12

I think it was BUT…

In contrast to how this whisky is described elsewhere I don’t find it remotely sweet, fruity or sherried. Okay maybe a bit sherried but not considering it being matured in sherry casks. What I do find is an intense mixture of heather, moss, and oak. It has a very organic feel to it which is hard to describe. On the softer side you will find butterscotch and nuts lurking in the background and it is also a very creamy, none-harsh and round bodied whisky.

VERDICT: I like the mossy and organic taste. I like the fact that it is thick and creamy. Actually I like everything about this whisky. It is currently my nr.1 Speyside and I highly recommend it to people who want to taste something different.

  (7.7/10)

Review: BENROMACH Organic special edition – #58 hit

Benromach Organic special edition saw the light of day in 2006 and is the first officially 100% certified organic whisky on the marked. Sadly this particular bottling has been discontinued by now.                                                                                                          benromach-organic-special-edition                 Instead of following in the footsteps of most single malts outside the U.S. Benromach Organic was matured in virgin American oak casks. As you probably know the majority of single malts produced are matured in barrels that previously contained bourbon. Unavoidably this difference will affect the final character of the whisky. Indeed Benromach Organic taste slightly more like a bourbon than a single malt. This has probably worked more to its advantage than anything else. It is exceptionally creamy and round bodied, almost like olive oil. Vanilla and dried fruits dominates the palate and rise above the gentle oaky notes that appear in the background. A minor trace of peat creeps up at the end but is quickly replaced by a long woody finish. This is a very light and delicious whisky that I would highly recommend to people just getting into the wonderful world of whiskies.

VERDICT: It should be mentioned that there is a high possibility that the reason to why I love this dram is because of my addiction to bourbons. When that is said I really like the way it combines the sweetness with oak and a touch of smoke. On top of this it is soooo smooth and creamy. If I am ever so lucky to find this in a shop again I will not hesitate a second to buy it.

  (6.7/10)

Review: BENROMACH Peat Smoke – #57 hit

The Benromach distillery is Speyside’s smallest and is run by only two distillers. Still they manage to release between 150.000-250.000 liters of alcohol each year. The other day one of my friends left me a half full bottle of Benromach Peat Smoke. This very unique batch has been distilled from malted barley with a phenol level of 53ppm which puts it in the heavy peated category. Generally you say that if it is made of barley of more than 30ppm it is heavily peated, around 20ppm medium peated, and below 15ppm lightly peated. CBenromach peat smokeonsidering that the nose can detect peaty flavors down to 0.1ppm I was expecting this to be somewhat of a smokebomb. This is not the case though. While I sat there waiting to be overwhelmed by cresols, xylenols, guaiacol, ehtylphenols and other phenolic compounds, notes of honey and vanilla opened up on top of a very gentle bed of smoke. At the same time it delivered generous contributions of liquorices with hints of orange peel followed by a tingy bite that diminished quickly. The absence of the heavy peaty attributes – normally characterized as burnt, smoky, and medicinal flavors – came as a surprise. Nevertheless the peat is still present but very well balanced by fruity and sweet notes that are very common to Benromach. Something that really impress me though is that this very batch was distilled in 2004 and bottled in 2012. Seldom have I tasted a whisky below 12 years that was worth drinking.

VERDICT: There are especially three things about this Speyside worth mentioning.

1)      The texture is very round and creamy.

2)      The combination of the sweet and the smoke works very well.

3)      At an age below 12 year I would have expected it to pack a much bigger punch.

  (6.8/10)