Strathisla on a Sunday

Strathisla was supposed to be the first distillery we stopped at on this trip to Scotland. We left Edinburgh in the morning on a Friday and drove north and slightly east to Glamis Castle, thanking my many-armed gods along the way for the big highway we were on. We ate lunch at and toured Glamis Castle with our friends and then headed towards the Speyside. (By the way, if you’re into the Scottish castles thing, I heartily recommend Glamis Castle; they have very nice grounds—including play areas for kids—and while it’s pricey, the ticket includes a very good guided tour.) We chose to go via Aberdeen, in order to stay on large highways the whole way. This seemed like it had been an excellent decision until we got out of Aberdeen. Then a horrific accident on the A96 bottled up traffic for a good long while, and there was no way we were going to get to the distillery before they closed. Sitting on the highway we texted between cars and decided to head straight to dinner in Craigellachie instead (an enjoyable meal at the Highlander Inn, on which more later). As such, Glen Grant ended up being the first distillery we stopped at the next morning; Glen Moray followed that. We finally got to Strathisla bright and early on our second day in the Speyside, a Sunday morning.  Continue reading

Strathisla 25 (Gordon & MacPhail)

Strathisla 25, Glen Grant
I purchased this Gordon & MacPhail Strathisla 25 at the same time as this Glen Grant 21. Both used to be familiar sights in better American liquor stores some years ago. As with the Glen Grant, this was bottled by G&M at 40%. It’s quite striking that G&M continue to bottle older vatted whiskies at lower strengths; one would expect that the segment of the market that is willing to pay larger amounts of money for older whisky now wants and expects higher strengths and single casks (or at the very least vintage statements). Of course, they do release many in those formats too. I think I’ve mentioned before my theory that the older whiskies they release at the lower strengths and/or without vintage statements might be vattings intended to rescue casks that have fallen below 40% in their legendary warehouses. Well, even if that’s true, some of the resulting whiskies have been very fine indeed (see this Longmorn 40, for instance).  Continue reading

Strathisla 25, 1989 (SMWSA)

Strathisla 25, 1989, SMWSA
The end of the year is a good time to do things for the first time. This is apparently my first Strathisla review. I could have sworn I’d already reviewed the official 12 yo but apparently not: I guess I finished my bottle before I started the blog. I should have a large reference sample stashed somewhere, however, so you can expect that review in the new year. In the meantime please excuse the obnoxious fact that my first review of a Strathisla is that of a 25 year old iteration.

Strathisla is one of those distilleries known for a somewhat unremarkable, young official release (the aforementioned 12 yo) and highly celebrated older whiskies from sherry casks. Most of these are independent releases and some of the most famous ones are Gordon & MacPhail’s licensed bottlings from the 1960s and early 1970s. I don’t have any of those lined up but next month I should have a review of the more easily found G&M Strathisla 25—the one without a vintage statement. This one is from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and is from a refill bourbon barrel.

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