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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

December 5, 2013


Strathisla-ing today

Strathisla is a perfect Christmas malt, especially all the smoothly sherried old ones that G&M have granted us with through the ages, usually at very fair prices. But as I like to contradict myself just for the sake of it, let's rather have some lightly coloured ones today...

Strathisla 10 yo (43%, OB, Chivas Brothers LTD, early 1960s, 75cl)

Strathisla 10 yo (43%, OB, Chivas Brothers LTD, early 1960s, 75cl) Five stars A very old one from the times when owners Chivas used to 'push' Strathisla a little more than today. Why they don't bottle more Strathisla - and Longmorn - these days remains a mystery to many a whisky enthusiast. Colour: gold. Nose: this will be quick, it's a Provençal beehive in early August, with quite a few herbs and grasses around it, as well as a few old forgotten tools. Kss kss kss kss kss kss (that's not the bees, that was rather supposed to be the sound of cicadas singing their heads off in Provence.) Mouth: superb, all elegance and refined fruitiness, with a lovely base made out of beeswax and a little nutmeg. Precious apples, oranges, long-forgotten varieties of pears (what?) and then a carefully composed blend of herbal teas. Chamomile, honeysuckle, hawthorn... More a string quartet than a philharmonic orchestra, but it's great music. Finish: a little short and certainly drier, which is pretty normal. Waxy and lemony aftertaste ala old Clynelish. Comments: striking balance and elegance. These very old bottlings of 10yo Strathisla - when they kept well - were masterpieces. SGP:552 - 91 points.

Strathisla 23 yo 1989/2013 (58.1%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Switzerland, cask #5966)

Strathisla 23 yo 1989/2013 (58.1%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Switzerland, cask #5966) Four stars and a halfColour: pale gold. Nose: powerful and rather more on the grassy/floral side at first nosing. There's also more clear lemon and green apples, which makes it all very 'responsive', so to speak. It's even quite mineral, kind of chalky on the nose, in a good way. With water: some pleasant sour notes, cider, beer, apple juice... A little fresh sawdust and vanilla too, as well as even more 'yellow' flowers.  Mouth (neat): absolutely excellent, with a fruitiness that I find typically Aberlour/Longmorn/Strathisla, in a way. I hope that makes sense! So rather western orchard fruits, apples, plums, pears, yellow berries (gooseberries and such)... All that with drops of liquid wax. Oily mouth feel. With water: became even fruitier. Some barley water. Finish: medium length, on the same notes. Even more apple juice, maybe? Comments: state of the art very moderately oaked fruity spirit. Extremely quaffable. SGP:641 - 88 points.

I think we could have one more Strathisla. Let's see what we can find... (rummage rummage rummage)... Yeah, let's drop the lighter ones that wouldn't easily climb over the strong BB&R and rather choose the probably huge...

Strathisla 16 yo 1970/1987 (61.3%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 75cl)

Strathisla 16 yo 1970/1987 (61.3%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 75cl) Four stars A sherry monster, probably... Colour: very dark amber. Nose: a bag of prunes. A huge bag of prunes. Prunes are so dominant that not much else manages to come through. With water: as expected, we now have a little earth, some raisins, touches of black cherries (that could be Chambertin ;-)), a little menthol, some liquorice... and always a huge bag of prunes. Mouth (neat): very, very armagnaqcy. Big prunes and no-less-big raisins (Corinth) with some chocolate. Not that monstrous but certainly quite monolithic when unreduced. With water: same proceedings as on the nose, a little more earth, maybe apple peelings, touches of mint... But it all becomes very chocolaty after a few seconds. Hot chocolate. Finish: surprisingly shortish (when diluted) but there's chocolate everywhere indeed. Maybe hints of marmalade too, but little spices. One clove? Comments: excellent, just as expected, but the sherry's really immense. Maybe will 25 more years in glass make the whole a little more complex? ;-). SGP:641 - 87 points.

(with thanks to Franco and Jens)


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback by Dave B







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