Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 6

6 12 2014

Whatever your views on whether or not adding water to whisky helps unlock and open up its flavours, we can probably all get together on the fact that when a whisky clocks in at 60% ABV it’s probably a good idea to hydrate that bad boy, right?  I made a big deal previously when the Advent scotch lineup jumped from 43% to 46% from one day to the next; in contrast to that jump, today’s almost seems like sensory obliteration.  Day 6’s whisky is the Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength (no kidding) Highland Single Malt Scotch.  Any whisky labelled as “cask strength” means that the finished whisky was not diluted with water down to a set alcohol level after barrel aging is complete.  The aging process results in varying levels of evaporation and concentration of the distilled liquid in cask, which is how you can end up with substantially advanced levels of alcohol, although 60% is close to the highest I’ve seen.  The Glenfarclas website suggests that “the smoothness makes the 105 drinkable at cask strength”, but the smoothness I got pre-dilution was somewhere between motor oil and fire, so in went the water.  Obviously not quite a scotch drinker’s palate yet…maybe on Day 24.

Day Six…ty?  Percent?

Day Six…ty? Percent?

Once I got the booze in check to a point where it didn’t feel like pure ethanol, I was able to appreciate the deep burnished gold colour and the vegetal nuance of this scotch.  There isn’t a whole ton going on, and the flavours are fairly laid back and mellow, but I coaxed out notes of grain/barley and brine, with an herbal undertone and a touch of honey lemon Halls on the nose.  The green, grassy undercurrent continued on the palate, shot through with vanilla, honey, toast and a notable hit of spiciness to go with a pleasant heat that lingered long after the scotch was gone.  Probably a middle-of-the-pack calendar whisky at the end of the day, one that I didn’t dislike but won’t remember much about in three days.

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