Glenfarclas 25yo – memories in a glass

Highlands region – 43%ABV – $125 | £86 | €100

I’ve mentioned in the past that one of the things that drew me to whisky was not the enigmatic smells; the delicious and complex flavors or what drinking enough of it does to your body and brain.  No, what really pulled me in were the memories and feelings the smell, taste and experience could provide.

Like how smelling lilacs reminds one of the joys of new life in the springtime.  The way the sound and feel of crunching leaves underfoot brings you back to your childhood days when you first discovered the colors and smells of the season – or perhaps the first time you made a scarecrow…

Whisky can bring you back to those good times in your life – times which comfort you or bring a yesterdays’ smile to your face…  What’s more, whisky can put back, in the front of your mind, your memories of discovery and learning and exactly how it all felt.

There are a few whiskies in particular that do this for me:
•    Lagavulin (instant thoughts of a campfire in the mountains with my dad)
•    Ardbeg (a warm California beach at lowtide and a lemonade stand where I made $4.50 which was a lot of money back in 1978)
•    Glenfarclas (Thanksgiving, Sukkot (which is the Jewish/Biblical holiday the US fore-fathers based Thanksgiving around) and perhaps the feeling I get during passover – it’s the warmth of family and the savory/sweet smells in the house.  Just lovely).

I’d never had the Glenfarclas 25 until now.  The 12yo, 15yo, cask strength 105 and the 40yo are all lovey-dovey malts if’n you ask me.  So, I have to expect that this will fall right into place.  I’d like to thank the nice chaps and lasses at Master of Malt for the Sample.  Much appreciated!

On the nose Rubber bouncy-balls and cranberry sauce (tin can and all).

Strawberry preserves, warmed honey and a hint of smoke.

Spicy and loaded with vanilla and wintery baking spices.

A very rounded, supple nose.

On the mouthThe texture is like watered down honey.

Sweet and nutty.

A potpourri of flavors (mainly the contents of a wintry potpourri).

This is like drinking a season…

More bouncy-balls and citrus spice.

Finish Warming, soothing and filled with rum cakes!

In sum There’s something so very comforting about the Glenfarclas whiskies I’ve had and this one did not let me down.  Round, warm and inviting; this is one to sip on while your spacial lady or special man friend is away.  It’s like imbibing a hug.  I will say, however, that the Glenfarclas 15yo is still my favorite.

Whisky Guild Classic – New Jersey – March 10, 2011

I’m going to be taking a bit of a vacation (sort of).  The family and I are headed down to Disney for a week.  While my family is out enjoying the parks, I’ll be working a tradeshow.  I doubt I’ll have time to do my posting (though I may throw some stuff up here, we’ll see).

So, until my next review, be sure to check out the details on this great Whisky Guild show in New Jersey.  If you’re in the NJ/NY/CT/MA/PA area, this is one to take a trek to for sure!

Featuring over 100 of the world’s finest whiskies.
Larger & better then last year! Featuring new releases.

One Convent Rd., Morristown, NJ
7:00 PM –  10:00 PM

Bourbon Glazed Ham (not kosher folks 😉 )
Pasta Primavera
Chicken Marsala
Fresh Vegetable Crudites with Seasonal Dips
International Cheeses
Hummus and Olive Tapenade
European Air Dried Meats
Marinated Olives, Roasted Peppers

Ticket Price $85


OR CALL 908-578-2726

Kavalan Solist “Vinho” Taiwanese whisky

Taiwan – 58.8%ABV – 200ml (special thanks to Ian Chang for the generous sample!)

The Kavalan range of whiskies, by the King Car Whisky Distillery out of Taiwan, are being churned out in short order but are not being done so in a way that would compromise quality.  I’ve been pretty impressed with most of their whiskies that I’ve tried so far.

I asked Ian Chang of King Car what the make up of the “Vinho” Solist was and I was surprised and impressed by the depth of Ian’s response:

“Indeed, the Vinho is part of our Solist series, which is a cask strength, single cask single malt whisky of course. The most special thing about it is that Vinho is fully matured in used American oak wine barrels that have been toasted and recharred in a way that brings out fruity vanilla notes from the whisky and wood overlaid on a delicate background of complex fruitiness.

The oak casks are made from American oak that has been seasoned in the open air for at least 24 months. The oak is slow grown that results in a greater release of flavours into the whisky. This reduces the astringent effect of tannins and releases more vanilla spiciness and hints of herbs such as dill and lemon grass. The result is softness and added complexity.

The casks have (deliberately) been used to mature both red and white wines which eventually will contribute the background complex fruitiness to Kavalan / Solist Vinhos.

After their use for wine maturation the casks are carefully shaved inside then gently toasted over an oak chip fire for a strictly controlled period of time and temperature. This converts wine residues into a complex mixture of fruit flavours including lime, berry fruits and peaches. Then the casks are charred for a short period of time to release lashings of flavours such as vanilla, ice cream and caramelised sugars.

The result is a more complex whisky than is possible than with whisky casks alone!”

The process sounds very interesting.  Let’s see what it does to the taste…

On the nose Incredibly bourbony; that is to say, strong and sweet notes of vanilla and spice – this does not “taste” like bourbon.

The color, which is like a deep brown mixed with blood red, suggests heavily charred casks and some of the wine influence Ian mentioned.

Musty and heavy with cinnamon and burnt sugar.

Notes of papaya and paper bags.

Blackberries and fresh starfruit.

…an interesting interplay of scents.

Watered down tomato based alphabet soup.

On the mouthDrying and a bit meaty.

For 58.8% ABV, it’s not as hot as I had expected.

Notes of a nice Malbec wine, soft and slightly tannic.

Dark berries and red-wine-soaked raisins.

Left-over fried grizzle and super-sour green apples.

Slightly nutty and again, drying; like the way walnuts can dry your mouth.

FinishLong finish that’s increasingly peppered and a bit caramely….

In sum This is perhaps my favorite Kavalan yet. Very complex and nicely balanced. Sometimes wine finishes can be too complex and lacking balance… not the case with this one.

Perfect for after dinner kibitzing with friends.

Master of Malt creates a whisky liqueur for single malt connoisseurs

I don’t post many PR pieces (not because I don’t want to; I usually don’t have the time.  I’ll figure it out one of these days…).

This one tickled my fancy for sure.  I’m not a liqueur kind of guy but the description sound very nice – especially if it is what they say it is!!  I’ll have a review going up on this in a few weeks.  To me, it sounds ridiculously delicious.


Whisky Liqueur for Single Malt Connoisseurs

Master of Malt have created a whisky liqueur for single malt Scotch whisky drinkers.

Master of Malt’s ( Whisky liqueur is made exclusively with all-sherry matured, 10 year old single malt whisky from a very famous Speyside distillery. It is flavoured with many Christmassy spices including cinnamon and cloves, and two kinds of orange peel. The result is a rich and complex liqueur aimed at the discerning single malt whisky connoisseur.

Master of Malt’s Sales Director, Ben Ellefsen, described the thinking behind the new venture: “We wanted to go against the grain and say “here’s a liqueur that a whisky connoisseur can enjoy”. Our new liqueur is made with all natural ingredients, based around an absolutely superb 10 year old Speyside single malt whisky, which was matured solely in sherry casks. The flavours we added were chosen to complement the Scotch, and bring it to a new level – this is in contrast to many of the mass-marketed liqueurs which use huge levels of sweetness and flavourings to hide the lack of complexity in the (often cheap, young, grain) whiskies they are based on.”

“Our new whisky liqueur is delicious neat or in a Rusty Nail cocktail, but we heartily recommend you have it in an ice-filled tumbler, garnished with a freshly cut strip of orange zest…”

You can buy Master of Malt 10 Year Old Speyside Whisky Liqueur for £26.95 here:

Master of Malt Whisky Liqueur

  • Made exclusively with 10 year old, all-sherry matured Speyside Single Malt
  • Flavoured with Christmassy spices including cinnamon and cloves, and two kinds of orange peel
  • Handmade in very small batches

About Master of Malt

  • Established in 1985
  • One of the UK’s leading Online Spirits Merchants
  • A highly rated independent bottler, all of whose single cask whiskies scored over 90 points in the Jim Murray Whisky Bible 2009

Master of Malt Blog –

Master of Malt Twitter –

Master of Malt Facebook –

Master of Malt –


Lagavulin 21yo – a stunningly magnificent Scotch Whisky!

Islay Region – 56.5%ABV – $895 (750ml) | £575 or €684 (700ml)

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday… To the JSMWS blog!

That’s right people, today is the one year anniversary of the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society’s blog.  It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year since the blog was started.

We celebrated the birth of the blog with an Islay malt – the Ardbeg Uigeadail.  Even though the newer version is slightly different than the one I reviewed, I still can not drink that whisky without thinking of the combination of seaweed, leather, blood and raisins.

Being that the blog was birthed on Islay peat, I thought it’d be a good idea to celebrate the anniversary with Islay peat.

Folks, what I’m about to share the details of has to be the finest whisky I’ve had to date.  Plain and simple.

On the nose This is 56.5%ABV?!  Insanely soft on the nose.  Not quite sure where to start as this nose seems to be filled with a bazillion different scents…

Instant sweetness – dark brown sugar and black strap molasses.

Sweet cigars, smoked dates (is there such a thing?) and fresh sea air yet something a bit musty or dusty about it.

Warmed and sticky chocolate fudge – I can practically smell the fudge soften!

This is just plain brilliant!

Oysters on the half-shell as well dried and salted whitefish.

Driftwood, salty capers and warm salted carmel.

The nose is incredibly dense and rich and purely decedent.

On the mouth Much more tannic/dry than expected.

Fantastic smokey attack accompanied by Mineola oranges and powered sugar candies.

The smoke attack turned into a “sweet blast” which then turned quite peppery.

Some more of the oyster notes I got on the nose but now it’s transformed into smoked oysters.

Sugared and dried figs as well as vanilla pods.

Dusty attic furniture, a very active humidor, dates mashed with demerara sugar, nutmeg and cloves.  Fresh potting soil.  The list could go on and on and on…

Finish Long and nutty with traces of fried walnuts, green olives and a honeyed oakiness.

In sum Do you have an extra $900 or so?  If so, buy a bottle STAT.  This is the ultimate in smoky celebratory whisky.  I had this one to celebrate the one year anniversary of the blog.  A well chosen dram for the occasion.

If I had a full bottle, I’d save the next dram for my oldest daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.  Yup, I’d wait 9 years to pour this again.  It’s worth the wait.

Unending thanks goes out to Stephen L, Marshall N, the LA Scotch Club and the Green Bay Packers.