Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Low golden light

Stunning early autumn weather today in Aberdeenshire and Morayshire. That amazing low yellow light you get in Scotland at this time of year. And the leaves just turning.

I left Aberdeen at about 7.30 am, heading for Glenfarclas Distillery near Balindalloch. It would have been a wonderful drive, had it not been for the tractors, elderly folk in Rovers doing 25 in a 60 limit, and overloaded trucks.

The smell as you enter Dufftown begins with warehouse whisky, the evaporating 'Angel's Share'. But in this, the epicentre of Scottish distilling, you can smell every part of the process - mashing, brewing, even the feinty whiff of hot stills. People who live here must have a 'resting' blood alcohol level much higher than normal.

Glenfarclas was a remarkable experience, with my first warehouse tasting (mostly nosing, unfortunately. I knew I shouldn't have driven) for 15 years. What I'm most impressed with, and always have been about Glenfarclas, is the simple and straightforward approach to making whisky. There's no pretence here, no faffing about, and it was refreshing to hear chairman John LS Grant (Glenfarclas is and always has been family owned) be so scathing about artificial finishing of whiskies, and some of the ridiculous descriptions people come up with of tastes and aromas.

The new Glenfarclas 'Family Casks' range is a triumphantly simple idea: Only Glenfarclas have casks of whisky in storage from 43 consecutive years. So if you have a birthday coming up...like, say, I do...52 in December...what have we here? A 1955 cask-strength Glenfarclas for, oh, a mere £750? Very nice. If only!

Back in Aberdeen now, and it has remained a stunning, golden day. As the light dims, the sunset is just the colour of whisky.

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