After a week of heavily peated whiskies, all simul-reviewed with Michael K.of Diving for Pearls, let’s change gears a little. Today I have a much older whisky than any of last week’s trio (the new Lagavulin 11, Offerman Edition, a Ledaig 6, 2004, and Batch 011 of the Laphroaig 10 CS) and it is from the Speyside. This 37 yo Strathisla was distilled in 1967 (before I was born) and bottled in 2004 by Duncan Taylor (before I started drinking single malt whisky). Unlike the Glen Grant 35 I reviewed last month this was released not in their lower-priced Lonach line but in their Rare Auld line. The cask type is not specified, though the 179 bottle outturn at 49.1% would suggest ex-bourbon—unless, of course, the cask was split. I am very interested to see what it is like. Though I have not had very many of them, older Strathislas can be very good indeed, and, as always, those distilled in the 1960s and early 1970s have a particularly strong reputation. Let’s see if this lives up to that.
Strathisla 37, 1967 (49.1%; Duncan Taylor; cask 1331; from a bottle split)
Nose: Polished oak, brown butter, hints of richer fruit behind. The oak is a bit spicier on the second sniff and just a bit too forward; some leafy notes too (mulched dried leaves). Let’s see if the oak recedes and the fruit emerges as it sits. Yes, the oak backs off with air and some fruit emerges—but, unexpectedly, it’s red fruit (cherry). With a drop of water there’s some cream/butterscotch.
Palate: Hmmm the oak is even more pronounced here (not tannic, just spicy) and the texture is a bit too watery. Not much fruit here at first. Mostly just spicy oak on the second sip as well. With more time some fruit begins to poke through but the oak is still the top note. Water brings out some brighter, more acidic fruit
Finish: Medium. Just some tingly oak with teasing hints of fruit behind. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This stayed in the cask a few years too long. Luckily, it wasn’t an over-active cask and so it’s not a tannin bomb but the fruit that can be so explosive in older Strathislas of this general period is not really present on the palate (traces remain on the nose). It’s not a bad whisky by any means and there are pleasures here that you won’t find in younger whiskies, especially on the nose. But, on the whole, this is not the malt with which to convince people of the glories of 1960s distillate. I liked it better with water.
Rating: 87 points. (Pulled up by water.)