Sunday, 9 October 2011

Welcome to Speyside - Strathisla 12 & 30 Year Olds

The location of my favourite
distillery tour (to date).
Of the limited number of distillery tours I have had the pleasure of joining, one has stood out as a favourite. Not because it was the most in-depth or the most wide-ranging but because it was the most charming. This tour was at the much-underated Speyside distillery of Strathisla, whose product principally goes into Chivas Regal and the excellent Royal Salute. The distillery is located to the east of Speyside and claims to be one of the oldest Highland Distilleries. It is certainly picturesque enough with cobbled pathways cherry trees, pogoda roofs and a waterwheel, but it was the tour that made it. The chap leading us around had worked in various roles at the distillery and had taken on the tour in retirement. He gave us a brilliant impression of what a working distillery was really like. Furthermore he let us try the malt that would open my eyes to the potential of Speyside. Strathisla is ever so lightly peated and it was this trace of smoke that appealed to my then peat-obsessed taste buds. So here's to Strathisla!

Strathisla 12 Year Old
43% - Distillery Bottled
Nose: Raisins, stewed pears, malt and fresh-cut grass play with a subtle smokiness, like burning hay with a phenolic chlorine edge giving another dimension to this dram.
Palate: Viscous malty aniseed with a touch of spicy smoke.
Finish: Full and wonderful; licquorish and burnt raisins with medium length.
Overall: A dram I link to a place and time so I am a little biased, but for me it is a great whisky to sit and relax with. Happy days!

Strathisla 30 Year Old
43% - Bottle by Gordon & MacPhail
Nose: Raisins and drifting wood smoke leading to pear and rum. Beyond this rich fruity nose there is chocolate and coffee cake with echoes of cumin and anise.
Palate: Sweet oily pear, smoke, malt and mocha in a lip-smackingly delicious combination.
Finish: Raisiny wood notes with a burst of pear drops with superb duration.
Overall: Fantastic: Complex, long, balanced, where can I buy more of this old bastard?

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