scotch review

Glenfarclas 105 Scotch Whisky Review

I love scotch.  Obviously.  But I mean I love all types of scotch, including peated, honeyed, fruity, smoky and everything in-between.  On the sherried side, one distillery stands out for me – Glenfarclas.  The Speyside distillery produces beautiful sherried malt, ranging from a young 8-year-old to their 40-year-old, an elder statesmen if there ever was one.

There’s one expression that stands out.  Glenfarclas 105.  It’s a cask strength version of their 10-year-old.  Coming in at a massive 60% abv, Glenfarclas 105 is a bold and delightful whisky.  The “105” in the name is a nod to the old British Proof system.  Under that system, 105 proof equaled 60% abv.

The nose is full of vibrancy and richness, with sherried malt, toffee, nutmeg and oak.  This is high proof whisky, so adding a little water helps bring out the fruity notes in the nose a bit more.  That high alcohol content also packs a punch in the flavor department.  Big notes of dry sherried fruit (raisins especially), clove, vanilla shine against a backdrop of rich, creamy toffee.  The long finish is leaves behind sweet and spicy notes, and becomes a touch dry after a while.

Glenfarclas 105 recently won double gold at the San Fransisco World Spirits Competition.  A well deserved award for a great whisky.  I had a chance to try the standard 10-year-old a while back, and while it has its place, Glenfarclas 105 is my preferred dram of the two.  At such a high proof, Glenfarclas 105 also holds its own against a mild-to-medium cigar.  You won’t regret picking up a bottle of this.  Recommended!  8.5/10

Thanks to Sazerac Company for the sample.  As always, thoughts and opinions are my own.


The Last Great Malts

Bottle shots courtesy of Dewar's.

Bottle shots courtesy of Dewar’s.

Dewar’s recently released a series of single malts collectively referred to as The Last Great Malts.  These include Aberfeldy, The Deveron, Aultmore, Royal Brackla, and Craigellachie.  These single malts are among those used in the Dewar’s blend.   To commemorate these releases, Dewar’s has released a short promo video featuring heavy hitters Dave Broom and Charles Maclean.

I’m tasting all except Craigellachie (which I hope to get to soon).  All single malts are 12 years old and are bottled at 40% except for Aultmore, which is bottled at 46%.


At the heart of Dewar’s lies Aberfeldy.  It’s what that blend is built around.  Right off the bat, you immediately notice that familiar Dewar’s nose.  Light floral aromas intermingle with rich honey, stewed pear and vanilla on the nose.  There’s just a hint of tropical fruit on the backend that becomes more apparent with a little time in the glass.  The whisky offers a slightly heavy mouthfeel while delivering delicate notes of toffee, light spiced honey, green pear, and a touch of oak.  The finish offers a touch of black pepper and mirliton.  Nice.  Definitely a major component of Dewar’s.  I’d love to see how this one ages, but what’s in the glass is an uncomplicated, silky whisky. 7.5/10


From the Macduff distillery, The Deveron is supposed to capture a touch of sea air.  Toffee, seaweed and hints of tropical fruit define the nose.  Taste-wise, we’re looking at rich salted caramel, spiced vanilla custard, grilled pineapple, seaweed,  pine cones and black pepper.  The finish isn’t long, and leaves behind notes of stewed fruit and herbs.  Re-tasting Dewar’s 12, I can recognize the Deveron in the blend, but it’s nowhere near as dominant a whisky as Aberfeldy.  There’s lots going on here compared to Aberfeldy.  It’s not as sweet, but offers an interesting green fruit and plant profile.  8/10


The first distillery to hold a Royal Warrant, The Brackla distillery’s single malts have just been released in the US. Sherried fruit, mango, and light toffee make up the nose on this 12-year-old whisky.  The entry is light, and features notes of rich tropical fruit, spice cake, and sherried malt.  There’s a rich mouthfeel here… The richest of the four malts in this post.  The slightly dry finish features a touch of cinnamon, red wine and malt.  Based on what I’m tasting here, I’m assuming this I a small component of Dewar’s.  There’s probably just enough to add a slight Sherry note.  Definitely my favorite of the bunch, due to it’s sherried component.  8/10


Aultmore has the lightest color of the group, leading me to think there is little to no coloring added.  The nose is less sweet and fruity than the other malts.  Freshly mowed grass, herbs and flowers with a touch of vanilla and toffee make up the nose here.  A sweet candied fruit starts things off, with anise, rosemary and vanilla providing some backbone alongside some toffee and lemon rind.  The long finish leaves behind a nice semi-sweet & bitter and malty note.  A solid offering!  8/10

Thanks to Dewar’s and their PR company for the samples.  As always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Glenlivet Single Cask Edition Pullman Train Collection Review

The Glenlivet is one of the biggest names when speaking of single malt Scotch whisky.  They’ve been (legally) distilling whisky since 1824.  Close to 200 years.  So it comes as quite a shock that they’ve never released a single cask single malt here in the good ole’ U.S. of A.  That’s being rectified, and in tribute to an important American company.

Started in the 1860s, the Pullman Company was the first railroad car maker to introduce sleeper cars.  Sadly, the company is no longer in existence, but it helped make travel by train a more pleasant experience.   Glenlivet was able to have its single malt sold onboard in little 2 oz miniature bottles. It helped spread the Glenlivet name amongst Pullman travelers.

In a pretty neat marketing move, the Glenlivet is releasing three casks of whisky, each named with a nod to the Pullman Company.  All three single casks are bottled at cask strength and are non-chill filtered.  The SRP is $349.99 for a 750ml.

Photo courtesy of the Glenlivet Distillery.

Photo courtesy of the Glenlivet Distillery.


Named after Pullman’s Club Car, this release is 18-years-old and has matured in a sherry butt.  It has the largest bottling of the three casks with 618 bottles available nationwide.  I’m using the term largest in relation to three single cask bottlings, so there is a minuscule amount of this whisky available.  The nose is full of a variety of dried fruit and spiced apples in addition to hints of nutmeg and freshly roasted coffee beans.  There is an intitial syrupy sweetness on entry, which quickly develops big, dominant sweet orange and baking spice notes, followed by honey-roasted nuts.  The finish is long, and leaves behind candied fruits and roasted almonds.  An exquisite and rich expression of The Glenlivet that I hope to see as a more permanent addition to their lineup.  My favorite of the three!  9/10


This one’s aged in a Eurpean Oak Butt for 14 years, providing a mere 588 bottles for the public.  The nose on this bottling is rich with orange blossom honey, sweet roasted malt, vanilla ice cream with a sprinkling of a cinnamon syrup.  Compared to the sherry-cask matured “Pullman Club Car”, this expression comes across as lighter on the palate.  Lighter but spicier, Glenlivet “Twentieth Century Limited” maintains a sweet citrus note with hints of freshly grated ginger, shortbread cookies, and honeyed fruit.  The finish is a touch on the spicy side, leaving behind a sweet wasabi-like note.  A memorable expression from Glenlivet.  8.5/10


The smallest release of the three single barrel offerings, The Glenlivet Pullman Water Level Route offers only 321 bottles.  This particular bottling is named after the Pullman line that took passengers between New York City and Chicago via the Great Lakes.  It has aged in an American Oak Hogshead for 14 years.  This whisky comes closest to the Glenlivet style, full of fresh pear, honey, kola nut, and vanilla.  There are flavors of sweet malt, ripe pears and baking spices, with hints of cinnamon liqueur and toffee.  A bit of spice ramps up towards the medium finish.  While not a bad whisky, there isn’t much as much complexity of flavors to be found here compared to the other two expressions.  7.5/10
Thanks to Glenlivet for the samples.  As always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.