My Fellow Inebriates,
I’ve been hiding out today because the six-year-old barfed in school and came home early. Needless to say, I do not wish to be the preferred stuffie right now. The washing machine scares the freaking crap out of me, and a projectile offering from Miss P would guarantee me a ride in it.
This means I have limited time to tell you about the last item from our weekend scotch-tasting threesome before the invalid gets off the couch and comes looking for cuddles.
Big thanks once again to my friend Christine for visiting with a canvas bag containing this and two other fine whiskies. When you taste two stellar whiskies—the first mind-blowing and the second only fractionally less astonishing—you almost stop breathing wondering what the third will be like.
TALISKER 18 and CAOL ILA 12 are renowned for their peatiness, making GLENFARCLAS 17 the potential oddball of the tasting triad. A Speyside single malt, GLENFARCLAS (“valley of the green grass”) is distilled using spring water from snow melt alongside the River Spey in Ballindalloch, Scotland, rather than the heavily peated water that contributes the characteristic peat-smoke flavoring to the other two I sampled.
Islay whiskey fans sometimes disparage Speyside whiskey (and vice versa) precisely because of the relative lack (or presence) of peat. Even whiskey drinkers who enjoy both regions still tend to favor one of the two styles.
Predictably I like both and suffer equal spasms over the absence from our liquor cabinet of either product. But regardless of that even-mindedness, I’d just enjoyed two peaty drams before the GLENFARCLAS 17 was poured. How would this third whiskey compare?
In the glass, GLENFARCLAS 17 shines a rich coppery amber, with detectable oiliness around the edges. On the nose: a surge of sherry, abundant but contained, and apple-butter with vanilla-butterscotch behind—a perfectly modulated chorus with an oak backbone and distant peat.
The sip is weighty and full, developing with a sensuous pace, the sherry-malt tones mellowing across the tongue into bakery-spice notes and lingering smoke. This whiskey dries noticeably on the tongue, masterfully balanced and complex, with an almost endless finish.
Some whiskey aficionados, especially Islay fans, might accuse Speyside whiskies of being comparatively simple—but only after burning off their tastebuds with Wonka SweeTarts in the company of an ailing six-year-old.
Adding water might enable the drinker to pick out its individual flavors with heightened precision, but dilution seems an unimaginable crime, and I couldn’t bring myself to try it. Of the three whiskies savored that night, GLENFARCLAS 17 was my favorite, and when Christine left the house with it, I pressed my nose against the window, vibrating with horror and sorrow.
Come back, Christine. Please come back.