Happy new year! I wish all my readers a great year full of fulfillment, health and great drams. please don’t settle for mediocrity. Try to broaden your horizons for true beauty that can be put in your mouth, but do it in moderation, we don’t want to create modern drunks.
Well what would be a better start, than with an old Strathisla! In the past I tried some nice old Gordon & MacPhail Strathisla’s from this series. The review for the 25yo can be found here, but together with this 25yo I tried the 21yo and that was similarly spectacular. Mind you these are the old 80’s bottlings for the italian market, and whiskies with these labels were issued for a couple of decades, so every batch will differ (massively). The 21yo and the 25yo were quite dark, and hopefully not colored, and being from the early eighties, the distillate is early sixties or maybe even late fifties.
On the menu this time is the 30yo, which is certainly a fifties distillate (glass code SC999). Gordon & MacPhail have some vintage fifties bottlings and they all are lighter in color than the bottlings with distillate from the sixties, as is this one. There is a later version with glass code 4699 (75cl), that probably contains distillate from the early sixties again, since that one is definitely darker than the version reviewed here.
Color: Golden Honey.
Nose: Steam and a hint of coal. Definitively old style whisky. Yes just nosing it briefly already gives me goose bumps. Shure, no thick cloying first fill Oloroso Sherry here, but something that is just as good, just more elegant and stylish. It’s like comparing James Bond to Usain Bolt. Honey sweet combined with steam. Old apple compote with grandma’s toffee. Together with the steam there is a hint of smoke and a little bit of lemon curd. Thick and fresh at the same time. Wow.
Taste: The taste isn’t as thick as the nose suggested, nor is it as sweet as I expected, and the first sip is quickly gone. A short attack of very elegant wood. It’s wood as wood is supposed to be. Old books. Hardly oaky and hardly bitter. Waxy and some old candied yellow fruits, apricots, but not as heavy and thick as Caperdonich 72’s. Short finish. The 21yo and the 25yo performed better in that respect. Treat this elderly Whisky with respect, but be bold and take bigger gulps. The whisky itself, maybe is a tad fragile and subdued, but hey, the stuff was made some 55 years ago and along the way was reduced to a mere 40%, so give it a break will you?
Having tasted the 21yo and the 25yo earlier, as several other sixties versions too, this one (being lighter, and less heavy sherried), was actually a little disappointing. The disappointment however, lasted for 20 minutes at the most. I learned to look at this Strathisla differently, being a lighter fifties version, and I have to say that the second glass already showed me some heaven again that is so abundant in the 21yo and the 25yo versions. Wow again, but definitely different from its brothers or sisters from this series.