Established in 2013 by former engineer and IT manager Tony Reeman-Clark, Strathmill follows a similar model to Eden Mill [blog], a micro distillery that Tony helped design. Like Eden Mill, Strathearn utilises small Alembic stills consisting of a 800-litre wash still and a 400-litre spirit still].
Using a combination of peated and unpeated malt, their beer is double and/or triple-distilled.
The spirit is then matured in a variety of 50-litre casks, including bourbon & sherry as well as French oak, Serbian oak and chestnut for example. They are also making gin and rum.
Strathearn released its first whisky in 2016, a 3-year-old single malt consisting of just 100 bottles. The Strathearn website states “We were delighted that our “Friends of Strathearn” paid a record price for any inaugural release of 3 year old scotch, eclipsing first issues from Wolfburn and Kilchoman”. Bottle #001 was sold for £4150, the remaining bottles fetching between £325-525 each.
Strathearn 2014/2017 Ob. US oak Ob. Cask #27 [84 bts] 56% [50cl] WB86.75
Matured in a US cask – medium char – this malt and the others coming up are all around +/-3.5 years old.
- N: Sweaty bourbon-cask notes, there being more of the actual oak than its previous contents.
- T: Now the cask and previous contents speak equally. This is sublimely controlled at strength. Tony tells me he waters the spirit down, lower than is standard, to his ideal strength before filling. Delicious sugar aromas develop.
- F: Short as expected but those sugars linger.
- C: Eden Mill, Yorkshire and Wolfburn [for example], have all found similar short-term success with these wee 50-litre casks. Here’s another astonishingly full-bodied malt at such a young age.
Scores 81 points
Strathearn 2013/2017 Ob. French oak cask #6 [80 bts] 56% [50cl]
Unfortunately Tony couldn’t supply the chestnut-matured spirit which is proving problematic for the SWA, or the HMRC or,….. “It’s complicated” says Tony. Let’s hope these restrictions can be resolved, to allow distilleries like Strathearn to do excellent things with their whisky without opposing perceived tradition or upsetting vested interests. In the meantime, here’s his French oak-matured malt.
- N: Similar in character to the bourbon-matured expression with nutty perfumes & Weetabix notes in the main.
- T: Same again but that French oak gives such a defined flavour – chestnut-y in fact!
- F: Varied milks, chocolate, also [cold] milk chocolate and a firm toffee maltiness. “Sweet and malty” says Tony, is the spirit profile of Strathearn.
- C: I look forward to trying this naturally sweet spirit journeying 10 years+ in suitable casks.
Scores 81 points
Strathearn 2014/2018 Ob. Ex-sherry cask #66 [80 bts] 55% [50cl]
- N: Ooh, that is fruity! Bubblegum candy crumble, but thankfully with only a passing suggestion to the ex-ballerinas’ Brenne WB65.
- T: It’s more resinous>tannic than the previous two malts. Water really helps its cause.
- F: Leads to butyric resins, the sherry clearly talking. Again, water helps. Sweet liquorice is spotted at the death.
- C: The bourbon and French oak-matured whisky is more to my taste, the spirit not interfered with as much as here. Initially scores 77, but it’s more like 79 with water. £145 a pop mind you!
Scores 79 points
Strathearn  Un-Ob. Serbian oak cask SDL136 58.3% [50cl]
- N: We return to more of that unique/recognisable distillery character, again with a chestnut-y vibe.
- T: More of the chestnut-y vibe. Must be from these wee casks and their particular resinous release.
- F: Something meaty, smoked, hammy,…. coming from the char, confirms Tony. I say it’s got a Balcones vibe. He agrees.
- C: The finish is a bit weird for me, though the nose is more in keeping with what’s gone before.
Scores 78 points
Finally, Tony pours me a sample from his tiny Solera barrel containing all sorts of Strathearn cask experiments – and it’s delicious. He is keen to point out that historically, this is closer to where whisky would have been a hundred years back and more, commonplace in taverns and in homes. That is, a characterful bastardised blend regularly added too as & when, stored in suitable & available casks & containers. Chestnut amongst other woods & materials would have been typical. I make an impromptu blend of all three Strathearn’s I’d tried above. The result is pleasing.
Theres also a distiller’s experience to be had at the distillery.