Going back to 2016 again, this particular tour of Strathisla was [also] part of Whisky Lounge Backstage. Our host was Boa Andersson. Here are a few random take-outs from that day.
The distillery was originally called Milltown [changing to Milton in 1890], before being renamed Strathisla in 1951 after Chivas [Seagram’s] bought the distillery in 1950. ‘Strath’ means ‘large/wide valley’. The first Strathisla distillery blew up when flour combustion blew the building [an old castle] apart. The rubble that settled was used to build the current distillery next door.
Strathisla’s stills are 4mm thick [Tullibardine = 6mm, Dalwhinnie’s [apparently] = 19-20mm thick [WLP]. The lyne arms of Strathisla’s stills dip and dive at random angles to accommodate the low-beams.
We are told 55 litres of water are used to produce one litre of wash. 350 litres of water are used to cool one litre of spirit. Our host then deduces that 405 litres of water are required to produce one litre of alcohol.
Alcohol evaporates at 78.4ºc. In the summer, Strathisla’s water source can be too warm to condense alcohol vapour to liquid efficiently, so the silent season is conveniently placed in the hot month[s]. Traditionally however this is also the time when grain farmers would be flat out.
2 maturation tidbits:
- Higher alcohol spirit will extract more bitterness in the cask.
- The angels share [in Scotland] per year is equal to losing 130,000 casks. Further reading: uisgebeatha.co.uk
To the tasting room and its classic old skool Gentleman’s Club vibes [the website confirming it]. We try five whiskies blind. Notes in the main were slight.
Strathclyde 2001/2014 13yo Ob. Batch ST 13 002 64.4% [50cl] WB84.86
Top tasting tip from Boa was to “blow on your dram”, removing surface ethanol away from the nose. It was the first time I heard this. Very effective. Today. a good reminder.
- N: Nutty/husky, young barley spirit with notes of butterscotch and vanilla fudge.
- T: Salty, hot, dry and spicy with ground pepper and butterscotch.
- F: More heat, but not phased by water thankfully.
- C: ‘Hot but tasty’, this is the first time I’ve nailed the whisky type, distillery, age and strength in a blind tasting, only because this was so similar to another young Strathclyde from Douglas Laing [WLP90] I’d recently discovered. Provisionally scores 83 points.
I almost never buy young grains, but Strathclyde [in sherry casks] is a sure-fire exception. I’m not sure in hindsight this is even [that] sherried, but the whirlwind romance of visiting the Chivas-owned Strathisla distillery and the joy of guessing the whisky found me taking a bottle home. My subsequent bottle polishing review [albeit with a grammatical tidy-up] read:
- N: Not too raw but pokey & evidently column still-distilled resinous coconut-y buttery/oily vanilla-ed spirit, one with promising developing qualities and a good clean pong.
- T: Reminds me somewhat of Cooley’s Greenore 8yo, albeit with much more body. It travels with ease and with a malty, vanilla, coconut-y buttery chew, but water management is key.
- F: Some bitter-sour accompanies the malty vanilla.
- C: This is a straight-ahead young grain showing solid form, though I can’t say I enjoyed it as a sipper all that much. Ideal for a highball I reckon. [WLP]
Scores 83 points
Strathisla 14yo  Ob. CS Edition Batch 1 [btl #867] 57.8% WB85.67
- N: Smells much older than the previous grain and with more depth in the form of lemon citrus malty putty, a hint of rancio, old leather books,…
- T: Less spirit, more oak with a little bitter butterscotch. The action is at the front of the palate, but that’s probably simply the high abv. We must be talking bourbon cask maturation, yes?
- F: Aniseed fresh, the spirit keeping up with the cask till the last.
- C: More drink, less think.
Scores 85 points
Strathisla 1988/2014 25yo Ob. Batch SI 25 001 53.2% [50cl] WB86.43
- N: This must be significantly older than the 14yo with a husky depth, mushroom rancio and old wood, and yet it also displays vigour for its years.
- T: Jostles between cask and spirit. Is there some sherry influence, or is that my expectation or the influence of previous drams?
- F: Wash notes at the end, is all I noted.
- C: Good whisky if a tad vague.
Scores 86 points
Longmorn 1999/2015 16yo Ob. cask #10449 [816 bts] 59.6% [50cl] WB86.18 WF85
- N: Sherry, nutty butterscotch and fusty vanilla ice cream.
- T: Salty, sweet, spicy, sherry,…
- F: ,… and [aside from many unmentioned movements] a delicious black molasses finish, and/or sugars of that ilk.
- C: Very good single cask Longmorn.
With thanks to Boa, and Whisky Lounge.
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