Review: Strathisla 21 Year Old 1992 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Douglas Laing Director's Cut) / by Jason Hambrey

21 Years; Refill hogshead
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Strathisla (Keith, Scotland)

Strathisla is the oldest continually operating distillery in Scotland (by their claim, although the truth here is a bit dubious - in the Highlands - yes), but, because most of its distillate goes into blends like Chivas Regal, we don't see many official bottlings (i.e. from the distillery) coming from Strathisla - the 12 year old is the most common, I believe. Thus, the distillery's profile has to be accessed from independent bottlings, like this one from Chivas Regal.

Douglas Laing, an independent bottled, used to have this Director's Cut as its oldest and rarest whiskies - but now XOP - extra old particular - contains these.

Review (2016)

  • Batch: Cask 9541, distilled 1992

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

A big, malty, fruity nose – with lots that comes through especially with some added water. Fresh grape, raisin, butter tarts, apples, pear, stewed fruit, vanilla, peach crumble, and light oak. Quite a terrific nose. Very light oak, custard, parmesan cheese, and a bit of earthy barley.

The palate follows suit, with sherry, grape, cinnamon, orange peel, and Thompson raisins coming to the fore with some absolutely terrific maltiness and butter. The finish evaporates quite quickly and is lightly bitter, but has some raisins, malt, and caramel and milk chocolate truffles. 

I prefer this one with a bit of water added in – the complexity really shines through. At cask strength, it might be called a sherry monster – but there’s not quite enough sherry, and it’s balanced terrifically by some solid malt. Very nice! Too bad about the lacklustre finish, or this would be a step higher.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, at $295.