By Kurt Maitland
The Strathmill Distillery is located in the town of Keith, and was founded in 1891 in preexisting mill buildings. Due to its proximity to the river Isla the distillery was renamed the Glenisla-Glenlivet distillery. When the distillery was sold in 1895 to the gin company W&A Gilbey during their expansion into the whisky industry, they changed the name to Strathmill to reflect the history of the facilities. The name comes from combining the Gaelic word ‘Strath’ meaning “shallow valley” and “mill” calling back to the original use of the property.
The facilities remained unchanged until Diageo merged with W&A Gilbey in the 1960s. Under Diageo the distillery’s production capacity was doubled in 1968 and the number of stills was increased from two to four. Today Strathmill is one of three distilleries in Keith, the other two falling under Chivas Brothers’ umbrella.
While Strathmill began releasing single malts as early as in 1909, the distillery’s output has been primarily used for blended whiskies. Strathmill is an important component of J&B whisky and Dunhill.
Consequently, the distillery’s second official single malt bottling was not released until 1993. What makes this a “Special Release” is that you get to taste the Strathmill as an official Diageo release and as a 25 yr old expression to boot. That doesn’t happen all that often.
Color: Pale Gold
Nose: A fruit cup for grownups. Once open, this release perfumes the air with citrus, cereal sweetness, ripe cantaloupe, apples and chocolate.
ABV: 52.4% or 104.8%
Taste: Sweet and honeyed, with all of the fruit of the nose combining with hints of toffee and caramel that drifts to a long white pepper finish. Apple comes out on top of the fruit fight but there is a slight hint of minty bitterness as well. The mouthfeel is oily for a moment, then quickly drying as the high proof of the cask strength kicks in. Water takes away a little of the dryness but increases the bitterness. For me, it’s better neat.
Finish: Dry and long, you’ll take many a breath before this dram clears your palate completely.
This is the first of Diageo’s 2014 Special Releases that I’ve reviewed this year. I must admit that I’ve waiting for the perfect moment to open any of the sample releases for review. You don’t want your dinner or a bad day affecting your appreciation of the “gift” in front of you. It’s nice to be able to enjoy an iteration of a whisky that is rare in the wild and at cask strength.
This limited edition will cost you. This cask strength release is one of only 2,700 individually numbered bottles available worldwide so if you want this from the source (being your only other options are from independent bottlings) you are looking at $475 Dollars US for a 750 ml bottle.