Age: 12 years old
As the oldest and arguably most picturesque distillery in the north of Scotland, Strathisla can be considered the showpiece in Chivas’s whisky emporium. This is not surprising, since Strathisla is the sole single malt in the company’s portfolio and forms the heart of many a Chivas Regal blend.
Strathisla began its life as a farmhouse distillery under the name Milltown. It was destroyed in a fire in 1876, after which the distillery was rebuilt in its current form. The business changed hands several times, until it was acquired by Chivas Brothers in 1950. Since then, both Strathisla distillery and Chivas have gone from strength to strength, with Chivas becoming the world’s best selling premium blend. As a single malt, Strathisla is often overlooked in favour of its larger Speyside neighbours, and this is wholly unjustified. Sure, Strathisla doesn’t have as extensive a range as some of their competitors, with Strathisla 12 year old being the only malt in the Chivas line-up. But it so happens that this 12 year old is a quality drop of whisky, meaning Strathisla is a distillery that should be noted for more than just the beauty of its stillhouse or for being the home of Chivas Regal. If you like Speyside drams, do give this whisky a try.
Colour: Soft copper
Nose: Sweet and nutty, as aromas of floral honey intertwine with scents of pecans and candied fruit. This gives way to aromas of polished wood and sultanas. Quite delicate.
Palate: Soft-bodied and smooth, with a distinctly oaky character. Sweet, fruity malt dominates the palate, topped off with fresh wood shavings. Notes of cereal and dried fruit combine forces to produce something I can only describe as a fiery, liquid muesli bar. That hardly does justice to this whisky though, as Strathisla 12 year old is much more appetising than that. Belatedly, spicy flavours of cloves and nutmeg develop, giving a bit more energy to this mellow Speyside dram.
Finish: Short but with the pleasantly dry aftertaste of barley and caramel.
Verdict: Strathisla 12 year old is a typical entry-level Speyside dram, perfectly embodying the honeyed, smooth profile the region’s whiskies are known for. But while many people contend themselves with the likes of Glenfiddich or Aberlour, this Strathisla is equally as good, if not better. Given the attractive price point, Strathisla is great value for money and is a fine choice if you’re looking for something that’s flying a bit under the radar.