Day One in the Whisky Advent Calendar

*In this series, I’m working my way through the 2015 Master of Malt Whisky Advent.

glenfarclas-25-year-old-whiskyGlenfarclas is a Speyside distillery in Ballindalloch, Scotland. Translating to “Valley of the Green Grass”, it’s definitely one of my preferred Speysides. Owned by Grant, and operating some of the largest stills in Speyside, it gets its water from Ben Rinnes and has been operating since 1836.

First, I’ll admit, I don’t normally like Speysides because they tend to be so sweet and lack the drama of a good Islay or Campbeltown whisky. But there are Speysides that have a really great complexity. Longmorn 16 is one of those, and someday I’ll explain why.

I first tried the Glenfarclas 12yr and found it to be nice, mellow, but with a bit of earth and grass. That made it more interesting to me. It’s closer to a Deanston than a Glenrothes.

Here’s a little tasting trick with Speysides. Almost all whisky has notes of caramel and butterscotch. That’s part of what happens when you age something in oak wood. But if a whisky presents butterscotch FIRST on the nose as its most dominant flavor, there’s an extremely high chance that you just picked up a Speyside whisky. Use that trick to impress your friends. 😉

Glenfarclas 25 yr is no different, in that it presents butterscotch first on the nose like a solid Speyside. But underneath that are heavy notes of the Sherry barrel and hints of cut grass. It’s the same things that remind me in a small way of Deanston 12yr. Because of its age, you get more of the barrel, and it’s actually a bit spicier than its younger brother the 12yr Glenfarclas. I like it more. It has all the mellow smoothness of age but didn’t lose the character. The back end has notes of pepper, and I really love that kind of accent on a sweet Speyside. It’s the only Speyside other than Longmorn 16 that I’ve ever found notes of black pepper that spark the taste.

This is a really great Speyside. I actually like it better than the 12, which is rare for me because I tend to like the drama of the younger whiskies.

Don’t eat anything with this one or smoke a cigar. Its flavors are so subtle, you’ll immediately ruin them and turn it into one of its more generic Speyside cousins.