Tasting Notes: Strathisla – 12 Years Old

When it comes to scotch whiskies, heritage is an important driver in claiming quality of a distillery’s product. The Strathisla distillery in Keith is no exception to this and boasts to be the oldest operational distillery in the Highlands of Scotland. The distillery is also home to the Chivas Regal whisky blends which are probably far more renowned around the world. They are currently in the final stages of a large refurbishment project, which should see visitors and fans of the brand come together in numbers. This whisky is therefore more of a treat in one sense, as it is not part of the blending process and is granted its own single malt profile, being comprised of whiskies at least 12 years old, and having been, in recent years, repackaged in the Stockholm style bottle and sold at 40% ABV.

Strathisla – 12 Years Old


Oh this is so sweet! The kind of sweetness that you get from candied oranges, or ‘candied’ anything for that matter. It also has a zest and zing to the nose that reminds me of sherbet & love heart sweets. There’s a good bit of citrus too adding to that zing.



That sherbet sweetness and tingle carries on through the palate, but now the malt shows up to play and mingles effortlessly with the sweetness to create a digestive biscuit sort of flavour profile. The citrus fruit zest also develops to apricot and mango. Its definitely a sweet fruit experience.



It has a lip-smacking finish. The  alcohol disappears almost instantly but that sherbet tingle lasts forever and leaves behind the zest and sweetness of oranges and strawberries – definitely one for the summer!



This is such a light and summery drink. Dangerously so given that it is still a 40% ABV drink, but I’m sure it would lend itself to some very refreshing long or short cocktails if you could bring yourself to put a single malt whisky into a cocktail! On its own though, the booze and sweetness interplay to create a light treat and feels like a very different sort of malt whisky. I would go as far as to say it is the sweetest single malt scotch whisky that I’ve tried (to date), even compared to Cardhu 12 (which I guess is Diageo’s closest equivalent to this Chivas output) and have suggested it as an entry whisky to a handful of people who want to get into malts but from a very light starting point. In the UK, this is often in the larger supermarket stores and can be seen on offer from time to time, sometimes dropping to ca. £25 if you catch it at the right time. For the whisky enthusiast who is a little longer in the tooth, there is the firm old guard who swear that the older bottling at 43% ABV was a lot better and may not have been stirred as much with ye olde caramel stick to ensure consistency in its colouring, but for me, as the nights draw out and the mercury rises, this would be a great choice to have waiting in the wings.


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