Tasting: Strathisla 1965 50 yo bottled 2016 by Gordon & MacPhail

Usually we as a human race like to have special drinks (Champagne, Wine, Whisky) to celebrate special events. And then there’s the opposite: Letting a fine drink create a special event. I’ve been holding on to this sample of 50 year-old, sherry-matured Strathisla from Speyside for quite a while now. Let’s see if will succeed at creating a special occasion …

Strathisla 1965 50 yo bottled 2016 by Gordon & MacPhail

Dram data:
Distillery: Strathisla
Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Distilled: 09.12.1965
Bottled: 20.01.2016
Age: 50 years
Limitation: 418 bottles
Cask: First Fill Sherry Puncheon
Alcohol: 43%
Uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Colour
Mahogany

Nose
Liquid time. That’s what I call this type of dram. At first, there’s a surprisingly noticeable alcohol note but that fades with time. Always make sure to give these old whiskies enough time after pouring! Right, where were we? Liquid time! When cask and spirit merge long enough without one completely wiping out the other to create a wonderful combination that just screams class and style. There’s a youthful orange-ey spirit component intermingled with a complex mixture of nuts (Brazil nuts), spices (allspice, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg), fruits (very brown banana, oodles of plum jam made from 100% plums), dark chocolate and just the right amount of fragrant oak. Oh, now the alcohol (orange peel) moves into the foreground again. Rather magnificent. Let’s see if the palate can match that!
Score: 92/100

Taste
Oh! You can definitely tell the age now if you couldn’t from the nose. Surprisingly lively and kicking for being bottled at 43% too – this has not gone flabby at all! The oak is much more present on the palate now – rather dry on the arrival with tannins and, well, oak influence. Dark, bitter chocolate, roasted nuts, raisins, 100% plum jam that got a bit burnt in the copper pan, allspice and cloves. Definitely an old sherry monster!
Score: 89/100

Finish
Quite dry upon swallowing but big with dry oak tannins, sultanas, 100% plum jam, bitter chocolate and a combination of all of these lingering for a long time.
Score: 89/100

Verdict
That’s a big whisky and a bit of a chameleon! At first, the nose is all lovely and rich and wonderfully balanced before the sherry monster almost knocks you over on the palate. Old style with quite a bit of cask influence and unexpectedly dry – but not in a bad way at all. Very enjoyable – yep, it makes for a special occasion and it would need one to open one, this bottling is still available but it will set you back just into the four-figure range (Euros, Pounds or Dollars…). Not something us mere mortals will crack open on a Sunday evening when we are bored and just feel like it like I did when I decided to finally pour this sample…
Overall Score: 90/100

Check out the archive of all Strathisla whiskies I’ve tasted so far!

Sample courtesy of Jo Lawson who passed it on to me following a tweet tasting by Gordon & MacPhail.

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