Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Spirit log:Strathisla 12

bottle and box
This week I think we’ll just have a very quick and basic whisky review. Perhaps it would be a bit unfair to call anything I do an actual review come to think of it… so how about, I don’t know, an account?

Whatever it is, this week I’m looking at a 12 year old Strathisla that I received as a Christmas present. It was a nice surprise because it’s one I hadn’t heard of before.

A bit of internet research revealed that this is something of a new bottling, in which the bottle itself has changed to what I call the Bruichladdich style, the label has become white, minimalist and shows pagodas and, more importantly, the strength has been reduced from a healthly 43 to a disappointing 40% ABV – why, Lord, why?!

in a Lagavulin glass...
You can pick up the Strathisla 12 in various supermarkets and the like for around £35, so it falls into the low average pricing category of single malts.

Strathisla, I found, is the oldest highland distillery, and the spirit it produces forms the core of internationally famous blend, Chivas Regal – so you might say it is to Chivas Regal what Caol Ila is to Johnnie Walker.

Now, I have tried the Chivas, and I wasn’t all that bothered, so what will I think of the Strathisla?

In terms of colour, it has a reddy tinge, which is quite attractive and it proves to be easy-drinking; not one that leaps out and slaps you round the chops, but there’s definitely nothing bad about it, and that can only be good. There’s a sweet silkiness on entry, pursued by a rough and contrasting bite – a contrast that I’ve been enjoying as it is an interesting juxtaposition.

While it reminds me of Glenmorangie in flavour profile, as time passed it became evident that the Strathisla doesn’t have the same allure that the Glenmorangie did – I was constantly choosing to drink something else from my collection instead; the Glen Scotia 16, for example which for all its flaws (as you’ll see in a future post), had something interesting and beguiling about it, or the Highland Park 12 that hooked me as a puzzle does, and made me want to figure it out.

Strathisla was pleasant but ultimately uninteresting. Nor was it one that I would bring out to impress guests and sadly that means it doesn’t rank very highly in the malt hierarchy. I would be interested in trying the earlier 43% bottling, as I hear that is excellent but it doesn’t appear to be available anymore. Shame.

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