One of the series I most look forward to from Chivas-owned brands is The Distillery Reserve Collection bottlings. Often only available at the distillery or through a few select UK retailers, these are special edition cask strength offerings and are almost always single casks. I’ve tried some incredible bottles from this range over the years including Aberlour, Glenlivet and Scapa among others.
This review is from the oldest operating distillery in the highlands—one that typically doesn’t get a ton of attention. In fact, this is my first review of anything from this distillery. Strathisla was founded in 1786 and is a classic fruit-driven Speyside whisky. This review is from cask 205786 (the naming convention here is beyond me). The whisky is from a first fill Sherry butt that was filled on Feb 20, 2006 and bottled May 7th, 2019 at 58.4% ABV. The 912 bottle count is a bit alarming until you realize that these are 50 cl bottles. Volume-wise, that equates to around 600-650 full size bottles which makes a lot more sense for a typically sherry butt.
How does this fruit-forward single malt fare after 13 years in a sherry cask? Let’s find out. A special thanks to my friend Gil Schwarz for sharing the last oz of this bottle with me!
|Nose||A thick, meaty, and industrial nose. Prunes, metal shop, oily, marshmallow, gumdrops, cherry syrup, almond, hint of charcoal. With water, more dark fruits, fig, dried strawberry, cocoa powder.|
|Taste||Thick and rich, juicy red berries, walnut, chocolate, honey, oak, lots of cinnamon and nutmeg. With water, toasted bread, fruitcake, and clove join a complex cast of flavors. This drinks hotter than expected.|
|Finish||This takes an interesting turn coming from a bright palate. Extremely drying, mint, anise, vanilla, cherries, old wood, more oiliness, a bit of fruit salad. Good length. With water, a bit of smoke and some vanilla bean.|
|Overall Thoughts||This whisky is a classic example of what happens when a distinctly fruity distillate is given the first fill sherry butt treatment. The fruitiness is surrounded by layers of spice, dark fruits, and dried berries that come along with sherry casks. I really enjoyed the nose and palate of this whisky though I found the finish to throw me for a bit of a loop and it lost some points there. It’s a pretty good pour though I wouldn’t need a full bottle of it. On to the next single cask!|