It’s the 17th May today, and the postman arrived early with a carefully wrapped bottle-shaped box this morning. In my role as social media manager for Crail Food Festival, I’d volunteered to be one of the tasters for two whisky products – Glenfarclas 10-year old single malt, and Harviestoun Brewery’s Orach Slie, with the idea being that I would Tweet out some comments using the tag #caskaged.
Carefully unwrapping the box, I found inside a bottle of Orach Slie, a miniature of Glenfarclas 10-year old and some tasting notes. The straw in which the precious contents were nestling proved to be a fine setting for an impromptu photography session to try to get just the right angles for the two bottles.
The tasting notes supplied by Scotland Food and Drink suggested that the two should be compared as the sherry casks in which the Harviestoun Brewery’s Orach Slie had been aged were those which had been used make Glenfarclas 10 year old. A novice whisky taster, I searched out reasons for the use of sherry casks, and found that bourbon casks are also popular for aging Scotch, which must be aged for a minimum of 3 years.
So to the tasting. I’ve written before about my inexperience in the quaffing of our national drink. I was therefore relieved to discover that Glenfarclas Distillery is located in Speyside, meaning that the whisky was likely to be mellow, sweet and fruity rather than peaty, which I’ve found I don’t really enjoy. We read in the notes the Glenfarclas 10 year old single malt is “a wonderfully sherried whisky, and an excellent aperitif”. Good! That meant we could start the whisky tasting before dinner took the edge off our palates. I enlisted the assistance of my husband, who has much more experience of drinking whisky than I, and was eager to be involved. We poured equal measures into some fine Edinburgh Crystal whisky glasses to take a look at the colour and appreciate the “nose” of the whisky. Pale straw-coloured, the whisky had a delicate and distinctly honeyed nose. On tasting, neither of us recognised any maltiness, or smokiness, but more buttery and raisin flavours. Very easy drinking, and definitely a single malt which both of us enjoyed.
Before we started our evening meal, we poured the Harviestoun Brewery Orach Slie, and proceeded to taste it at room temperature, as suggested. I really enjoyed drinking the “Golden Nectar” at room temperature instead of from the fridge, it seemed to make the flavours more rounded. We both agreed that we were enjoying the sweetness of the brew, and finding it neither bitter nor drying, although perhaps our lack of appreciation was more due to our limited beer-describing vocabulary. We’d started the tasting of the beer before eating a Chinese meal, but this was where it really started to come into it’s own. It was the perfect accompaniment to our duck spring roll starters, with all the sweet notes really bringing out the flavour of the food. Before we’d finished the bottle, my other half was already putting this on his list of beers to take to a barbecue we’re going to in a few weeks time, for a friend who is a beer connoisseur (or at least drinks a lot of it!).
Thank you so much to @Eat_Scottish for the opportunity to try these two different, but related Scottish delights. You can find out more about the distiller and brewer here: