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LMDW's Artist Range Quintet from Ancient Strathisla Distillery

According to official records, three of the oldest, still operating, distilleries in Scotland are Glenturret (estab 1775), Bowmore (estab 1779) and Strathisla (estab 1786). While Glenturret and Bowmore have both gone through "mothballed" periods when they were temporarily closed, Strathisla, is a rare distillery that has been ceaselessly operating since its establishment in the late 18th Century.

 

Through surprising, almost abstract compositions, these black and white photos capture the ancient Speyside distillery in a modern light.

 

 

For the first time ever, La Maison du Whisky's famous Artist range will be releasing an entire set dedicated to a single distillery, a legendary one that has ceaselessly operated for at least 2 centuries!

  

(Image Source: Jakub Iwanicki)

 

Strathisla’s whiskies have, since 1786, been produced in the outskirts of the small town of Keith. Its historic roots and remarkable architecture have Scottish tourist guides frequently citing it as one of the most beautiful distilleries in the country, with its pagoda roofs, paved courtyard and waterwheel. Privy to expertise honed since the 18th century, Strathisla is known for being the key element in a number of blended Scotches, including the well-known Chivas blends.

Often presented as the “home of Chivas”, it is rare in the world of whisky for the history of one distillery to be so closely linked to that of a blended Scotch. Although produced in very limited quantities, this single malt is extremely well-renowned amongst informed enthusiasts.

This year, LMDW's Artist range offers an exploration into five cask strength single casks from Strathisla, distilled between 1991 and 2012. 

 

Mathéo Modol

To illustrate this exclusive collection, LMDW entrusted young artist Mathéo Modol to provide an original take on the distillery that has been photographed for decades from every angle.

 

 

Of the thousands taken, LMDW chose 5 photos, all in semi-darkness, for their powerful and radical aesthetics, far from Strathisla’s typical idealised image. Through surprising, almost abstract compositions, these black and white photos capture the ancient Speyside distillery in a modern light.

Each of these five photos would adorn a bottle from this Artist range.

 

Strathisla 2012, 10 YO - 62.2% ABV

Single Cask #2O9668 - First Fill Bourbon Barrel (LMDW exclusive)

 

 

This young Speyside malt is one of five versions in this unprecedented Artist range. After the collections #10 in the French Connections catalogue dedicated to world whisky and #11 in the A La Conquête des Origines catalogue dedicated to Compass Box blends, for the first time this range pays tribute to a single distillery — Strathisla. With remarkable crystal-clear purity, this single cask stands out as much for its fresh expression as for its depth and complexity. With a drop of water, it even takes on a chocolatey smoothness until then hidden in the far reaches of its flavour and aroma palette.

This expression has an outrun of 210 bottles.

 

Tasting Notes
 
Colour
 
Bright gold.
 
Aroma
 
Rich, concentrated. The slightly medicinal (ointment), liquorice, spicy (pepper) and creamy (coconut milky) first nose is also vanilla and herbaceous (green barley, cut hay).
 
Allowed to breathe, heady fragrances (iris, mimosa) and stronger spices (nutmeg, clove) pepper a beautiful vegetal (rush, bamboo), fermentary (cooked barley, porridge), lemony and fruity (pear, pineapple) sequence. Superb!
 
Taste
 
Lively, dynamic.
 
The very slender attack is herbaceous (green barley), vanilla and exotic (pineapple, banana). On the midpalate, milky flavours (almond, coconut) and aniseed notes form an extremely harmonious ensemble. At the end of the palate, candied lemon and aromatic plants (sage, verbena) refresh the palate. Even later, barley grains roll abundantly across the tongue. 
 
Finish
 
Long, well-balanced.
 
The finely liquorice start of the finish is like an extremely lush (meadow, clover, dandelion) rustic spring landscape. At the end of the finish, new fruits appear (gooseberry, white redcurrant, pippin apple). The mineral retro-nasal olfaction (chalk) returns to the green and medicinal notes from the first nose (mustard poultice, plaster). The empty glass is flooded with fragrances of lime blossom, fresh coriander, jasmine and candied fruit (pear, lemon). 
 
 

Strathisla 2007, 15 YO - 62.7% ABV

Single Cask #205217 - First Fill Sherry Butt (LMDW exclusive)

 

It would be impossible to mention Strathisla without talking about the legendary sherry cask bottlings from renowned independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail which date back to the 1930s and are unquestionably part of the firmament of single malts. This enthralling version is in the same vein. Matured in a first-fill sherry cask, it is particularly expressive, as reflected by its aroma palette, which could almost be sufficient on its own. Not to be outdone and just as demonstrative, the flavour palette follows an autumnal and floral path with noble spices, malt, chocolate, exotic fruits that infinitely draw out the length of the tasting.

This expression has an outrun of 553 bottles.

 

Tasting Notes
 
Colour
 
Deep orangey copper.
 
Aroma
 
Rich, complex.
 
The absolutely magnificent aroma palette unveils red fruits (strawberry, raspberry), black fruits (bramble, blackcurrant), a very pure apricot rancio, and aromas of leather, polish (wax), sweet spices (cinnamon, ginger), heady florals (tuberose, iris), dried fruit and nuts (chestnut, date, walnut), dead leaves, chocolate, coffee, curry, exotic fruits (mango, persimmon, guava), aromatic plants (sage, camomile) and sandalwood, to name a few.
 
Taste
 
Taut, lively.
 
Overflowing with vitality, the attack is at first spicy (saffron), heady (broom, carnation, gillyflower), oriental (Turkish delight, rose petal) and finely liquoricey. On the mid-palate, a delicious malty bitterness brings the flavour palette lots of smoothness. Divinely chocolatey, it lingers on very distinguished flavours of spice bread and cream coffee. The exotic (mango, pomegranate, lychee) and citrus (orange zest) end of the finish invites us to enjoy a succulent quince jelly.
 
Finish
 
Long, silky.
 
At the start of the finish, dried fruit and nuts (almond, fig, Corinthian raisin, prune, chestnut) emphasize the tertiary and autumnal character of this extraordinary Strathisla. At the end of the finish, bourbon vanilla and walnut stain coat the side of the palate in their coarse yet velvety tannins. Full of energy, and in guise of a signature, the retro-nasal olfaction adds a floral (lilac, violet) and mineral (zan liquorice sweets, charcoal) touch to the end of the finish. The empty glass is characterized by fragrances of flowering geranium, candied orange, toffee and grated ginger.
 

 

 

Strathisla 2002, 20 YO - 55.4% ABV

Single Cask #27057 - First Fill Bourbon Barrel (LMDW exclusive)

 

 

This particularly rich and complex version makes no hesitation in exploring unusual rustic and herbaceous lands to better highlight the original and delicate character of the Strathisla flavour and aroma palette.

This expression has an outrun of 192 bottles.

 

Tasting Notes
 
Colour
 
Deep gold.
 
Aroma
 
Full, developed.
 
The very beautifully fruity (pear, lemon) and spicy (white pepper, nutmeg) first nose gradually reveals superb aromas of liquorice and vanilla. Allowed to breathe, honey notes (acacia, lime blossom, lavender), a hint of camphor and pine resin form a harmonious and deep ensemble. Oily (green olive), vanilla and characterised by citrus fruits (grapefruit, kaffir lime), the aroma palette is flooded with fragrances of white mint and verbena.
 
Taste
 
Rich yet creamy.
 
The deliciously vanilla attack (milk tart) also reveals abundant nuts (almond, walnut, hazelnut, chestnut). The tenderly herbaceous mid-palate (basil, sage, sorrel) invites us to pick fruits from an orchard (pear, apple, peach, Mirabelle plum). Later, the end of the palate takes on a deliciously rich dimension (pear tart, vanilla flan, peach Melba).
 
Finish
 
Long, well-balanced.
 
On the finish, ointment notes and herbaceous (watercress, lamb’s lettuce) and vegetable garden (courgette flower) flavours bring lots of consistency. Lingering on, the end of the finish is mentholated and delicately floral (lilac, carnation, lily of the valley). Tea and lime flavours then fragrance a very finely ashy (tobacco) and woody (eucalyptus) retro-nasal olfaction. The empty glass is intensely malty, mentholated and syrupy (barley sugar, liquorice stick).
 
 

Strathisla 1997, 25 YO - 50% ABV

Single Cask #78844 - Refill Hogshead (LMDW exclusive)

 

 

Constantly refreshed with particularly juicy fruit notes and very distinguished herbaceous and floral notes, this expression's aroma and flavour palette also develop at the pace of the far more candied, medicinal, spicy and rooty sequences that have shaped its deeply entrenched character.

This expression has an outrun of 296 bottles.

 

Tasting Notes
 
Colour
 
Bright gold.
 
Aroma
 
Fresh, subtle.
 
The floral (lilac, lily, lily of the valley), herbaceous (cut hay, straw, mint), lemony and vanilla first nose develops pleasantly fruity (William’s pear, Golden Delicious apple) and exotic (banana, star fruit) registers. Allowed to breathe, numerous aromatic plants (rosemary, tarragon, marjoram), lavender honey and sweet spices (cinnamon, ginger) mix together harmoniously. The increasingly milky aroma palette is like a rhubarb and milk tart.
 
Taste
 
Clean, lively.
 
At first glance heady (jasmine, iris), the attack quickly develops a very fresh fruity register. Whole bunches of white grapes release a deliciously tangy juicy across the edge of the palate. On the mid-palate, vanilla pod, candied lemon and peat draw out the pleasant sensation of fullness emanating from the flavour palette. The end of the palate adds flavours of cut grass and sweet almond.
 
Finish
 
Long, ethereal.
 
An expert mix of liquorice, lemon, exotic fruit (banana, pineapple, passion fruit) and vanilla, the start of the finish is amazingly elegant. At the end of the finish, medicinal (ointment, mustard poultice), herbaceous (clover, lucerne, white mint) and spicy (clove, fresh ginger) flavours bring the palate lots of energy. The vanilla and cinnamon-sprinkled retro-nasal olfaction returns to the lemony notes from the first nose. The empty glass is aniseedy, camphoric, spicy (star anise) and rooty (gentian).
 

 

Strathisla 1991, Over 30 YO - 42.3% ABV

Single Cask #78844 - Refill Barrel (LMDW exclusive)

 

 

This remarkably fresh version is also impressively serene. Its palette of flavours and aromas has been so nourished by the marvellously rustic and hilly region of Speyside that it becomes its perfect fruity, floral and herbaceous embodiment.

This expression has an outrun of 146 bottles.

 

Tasting Notes
 
Colour
 
Pale gold.
 
Aroma
 
Delicate, fresh.
 
The first nose is very fragrant (jasmine, lilac, lily, lily of the valley), slightly empyreumatic (incense, eucalyptus, ash) and oxidative (roasted pineapple, sun-dried grapes). Allowed to breathe, perfumed plants (sage, verbena, rosemary) and candied citrus fruits (lemon, grapefruit) underscore the aroma palette’s vitality. Then, with time, fresh pineapple takes the place of roasted pineapple and new fruits gradually appear (banana, pear, apple, almond).
 
Taste
 
Full, rich.
 
The deliciously vanilla (flan) and lemony (lime tart) attack becomes increasingly milky (coconut, agave). On the midpalate, intensely herbaceous (lucerne, cut hay) and aniseed flavours create a remarkably fresh transition. Then, around a corner, a field of barley swept with a salty breeze looms on the horizon. From then on, a profound feeling of serenity reins throughout the flavour palette. The end of the palate wavers between notes of lime, walnut, white grape and verbena.
 
Finish
 
Long, refined.
 
The vanilla, malty, spicy (ginger, cinnamon) and delicately liquorice start of the finish is at the same time deliciously fruity (pear, Napoléon cherry, star fruit). At the end of the finish, white chocolate and almond milk flavours caress the palate with rare creaminess. Overflowing with herbaceous verve (sage, thyme, green tea), the retro-nasal olfaction is particularly fresh, lush and mouthwatering. For its part, the empty glass adds fragrances of absinthe, aniseed and oregano to this already comprehensive vegetal register.
 

 

 

@CharsiuCharlie