The Chivas ‘Distillery Reserve Collection’ is a showcase of cask strength expressions from across the Pernod Ricard portfolio. To date, nine distilleries have featured in the collection which covers some well-known brands as well as several which are rarely seen as single malts. So far, we’ve had bottlings from Aberlour (4), Braeval (1), Caperdonich (1), Glen Keith (1), Glenburgie (1), Glenlivet (3), Longmorn (1), Scapa (4) and Strathisla (3). All of the Reserve Collection expressions are bottled at cask strength and are only available in a 50cl size.
All the Distillery Reserve Collection expressions are rather fairly priced considering their limited availability (distillery only) and small outturns. Today, we’ll be looking at one of the Strathisla releases – a 17 year old distilled in 1998 and bottled in 2015. This Strathisla was drawn from two casks (4330-31 and 4336-36), bottled at 57.9% ABV and was a release of 1632 bottles.
Nose: Highly pronounced and with an incredible aroma of popcorn – particular the style you might find at an American cinema – covered in lashings of melted butter. Truly evocative. Alongside this, there’s some charred elements, burnt pineapple perhaps, a healthy dose of vanilla and a touch of peeled potatoes and sawdust. The addition of water brings out a lovely barley water note along with copper coins and a bowl of early morning cornflakes.
Taste: Full on and mouth-coating. Popcorn/corn and vanilla translate across well and are joined by some more expected maltiness. There’s more woody flavours imparted which also provide a mild salinity. With water the initial attack is reduced and citrus flavours start to come out to play – however the overall balance and intensity of flavour are substantially diminished.
Finish: Medium in length and bringing woody vanilla to the fore.
This Strathisla is both punchy and rather unique. The popcorn/corn flavour is truly reminiscent of sitting in a darkened cinema or meandering through a sun-drenched barley field whilst running your arms through the long ripe cope stalks. Despite the 57.9% ABV and quite the initial attack, I’d still recommend this neat and unadulterated – such are the quality and prominence of the original flavours.