“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;”
My wife and I spent a few days at our house in Northern France recently. It’s in a rural spot and the beauty of the countryside enhances one’s appreciation of the seasons. As I pushed my wheelbarrow across the field, I noticed a tree which still had multi-coloured leaves on its branches. Gold, dark orange, terracotta and burnt sienna were all there. This brought to mind Keats’ wonderful poem, Ode to Autumn.
Many of the apples from the two old, gnarled trees at the end of the field had dropped onto the grass and were covered by a tapestry of leaves and eventually provided the bulk of my bounty. Rich colours, ripe fruits, the smell of wet leaves, mature compost: was this all communicating a subliminal message?
Back in the house, as the sunny afternoon turned into a cool indigo evening, I tossed another log onto the crackling fire, relaxed in a comfy sofa and let my thoughts dwell on the choice of an appropriate whisky to match the mood. Although easily seduced by pale malts, I felt this was an occasion to sample one with a darker tone and my hand moved towards the fifth dram bottle in my Whisky Club tasting set: Glenfarclas 40 year old. At £295 a bottle, this would be a very special Christmas present, however, the 3cl sample would make a great stocking-filler.
Nose: Reminiscent of Glayva liqueur, mature, restrained with the dark sweetness of Algarve honey, spiced muscovado sugar and Christmas cake
Palate: Seville orange marmalade, wild thyme, apple, leather and caramel
Finish: A total upper body sensation, a poultice gently descending like a sophisticated Vick chest rub
So I have to thank the beautiful countryside, a delightful autumn afternoon, a plentiful supply of fruit and the genius of John Keats for guiding me in the right direction, to a truly majestic dram.