The good people at Master of Malt recently sent us drams of their Arran 12 Year Old Single Cask and the Glenfarclas 25. It didn't take much convincing to lasso Robin into nosing the liquids with me. The first thing we noted is that at 30ml, these quaint little bottles are clearly not intended for sharing - or even pouring less than its entire contents.
Starting with the Arran, which is Master of Malt's own cask bottling at full strength over 54% abv. We found the nose hot initially, but once you give it a chance to work, there's some fresh pine, salt and medicinal notes. A drop of water will open some malty sweetness. After that alcohol shocks you, the palate smoothes out into a buttery soft mouthfeel. On a normal sip, the finish will repeat the heat and then end rather abruptly. It stands out in this case that the nose is more complex than the palate. Even in adding water to this dram, it seemed younger than 12, not for beginners or the feint of heart.
The Glenfarclas, is more standard at 43% abv after maturing 25 years in sherry casks, and is much more subtle than the previous. It opens with a toffee nose, sweet like the skin of a red apple. The palate is oaky with citrus notes and a small measure of peat smoke. The finish is quite dry and oaky, lingering with an element of dark liquorice. It's surprising that after 25 years, the sherry hasn't dominated the flavour of the spirit. We recommend keeping this one neat, lest you lose the nuances.
Thanks again to Master of Malt for the samples, keep up the good work. We encourage you whisky drinkers out there to give this "Drinks by the Dram" service a try if you're looking to taste without having to commit to a bottle. We were also pleasantly surprised that the whisky was able to get through Canadian customs into Ontario!