You’ll notice a certain item with a quote in a variety of my end of year tasting whiskies. A while ago I reviewed a certain Caol Ila that was enjoyed by another reviewer. Turns out it was enjoyed by him a lot. Like it was the best thing he’s ever drunk and he’s had enough varied malts to back that up. And I felt… it didn’t really win me over. Thus in a very humorous comment, he declared that my Tongue was not a Tongue, but rather a popsicle stick.
That may change though. You see, for the second whisky in our year-end review, we had Stronachie 1976. Something that the aforementioned person enjoyed quite a bit.
But what is Stronachie? Well, it’s a dead distillery. Completely gone. That is, it was until A.D. Rattray purchased one of four of the remaining older bottles, from 1904, and in trying it, figured out that it was super close to specific blends of Benrinnes.
Snap back to now. We’ve had Stronachie 12, 18, and now two different versions of the 10 year (sherry and ex-bourbon edition). I’ve personally had the 12 and 18, even going so far as to re-review the 18 due to questions as to a specific note I got, and if my older sample was somehow soured (it wasn’t I’m amazing and humble).
Now we’re onto a 31-year-old version.
So have I baited him again, even while drinking in front of a coaster with the funniest criticism I’ve ever enjoyed?
Let’s see, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Stated Age: 31-years-old
Number of bottles: 850
Colour: 7.5Y 7/8
Nose: Tobacco, rich apple crisp, cinnamon, pear, cotton candy
Oh. Tobacco on the nose.
Great, I guess my nose is two shells that we’ve put together.
Joking aside, there initial smoke/grassiness/I don’t know how to explain tobacco without using tobacco has more fruit, spice (yes spice is part of tobacco I’m bad at it don’t @ me) and even some candy aspects. What I’m saying is any initial concern I had of tobacco fucking my shell holes goes by as it opens up, and it all works. Not as complex on the nose, but that may change, and there are certainly elements here (strong caramel/brown sugar notes in the apple crisp note) is signalling something nice.
Taste: Apple syrup, lemon juice, pastry, guava, grass, Twizzlers
Big fruit, pastry… I mean it’s a step off of an apple pie. Like one of those places that does it “deconstructed” and you enjoy it but you’re kinda annoyed that the art has gone above the complete spoonful that most of us call “prepared food”.
Water brings out a strong, candied strawberry note, and amps up more of the tropical fruitiness. Now we’re talking.
Finish: Brown butter, apple dumpling, lime juice, cereal/honey/malt, salt, Cronaught
Long, becomes richer with water. Just keeps going. This is where it all comes together. It’s actually not until the finish that I “get” this dram. Because the finish is where it comes together. It’s the place down the street from that fancy restaurant that tastes complete and better.
Or it’s a Cronaught made by hipsters. Whichever you prefer. Food is subjective, like reviews.
Conclusion: This is where it’s at. I was worried going into this as I wasn’t the biggest fan of the 12 or 18. It was only at the end where my fellow whisky friends and reviewers noted the same, and that they had purchased bottles of Stronachie 1976 simply because this specific version was so good.
But you’re not here for their thoughts, otherwise, you’ve completely missed the point of my reviews. And I say this is a slow grower. It’s not going to impress you with the handshake (the nose), and the taste takes some getting used to (but is a solid sherried malt). But once it fucks you, you’re it’s one and only. That’s what the finish is right, the fornication?
Big butter notes, lovely apples done just right, a consistent whisky that I really did enjoy the more I had it. Now the best thing to do is ignore all that great praise and stick to why my score isn’t higher (the nose being not as complex as I may have liked, the idea that the taste was a deconstruction, other things I’ve written above that you’ve skipped, it’s okay, reading is hard).
Scotch review #1082, Speyside review #302, Whisky review #1687