Monday, March 20, 2017

Whisky Review: Hepburn's Choice Strathmill 24 Year/1992

Strathmill is another one of Diageo's many semi-anonymous Speyside distilleries that produces whisky almost exclusively for their blends. While its history goes back to the late-19th century whisky boom, there's little to mention beyond its slightly complicated ownership and management over time, which I'll leave to Malt Madness to explain.

This particular cask was distilled in 1992, filled into what I'm guessing was a refill ex-bourbon hogshead, then bottled in 2016 at 47.9% without coloring or chill filtration for the Hepburn's Choice label exclusively for K&L Wines in California.

Hepburn's Choice Strathmill 24 Year/1992

Nose: clean malt, a touch of vanilla, light oak, light molasses/graham crackers, grass, slightly metallic, fresh herbs/wildflowers. After adding a few drops of water it remains largely the same, but loses some oomph.

Taste: malt sweetness up front, fading into bittersweet oak, muddled fruit (green apples/pears/raisins?), drier malt, and some alcohol heat near the back. After dilution it remains largely the same, but the oak becomes a bit bigger and more tannic, giving it a more bittersweet profile overall.

Finish: gentle oak, raisins, malt residue, stewed fruit, dried flowers

The charms of this whisky are subtle and never reach wild heights, but it's a solid example of a refill cask that hasn't stomped on the spirit. For the price and age, this was a perfectly decent buy, but would probably be a little disappointing for someone expecting more. I think you could find very similar casks from any number of Speyside distilleries using unpeated malt, so I wouldn't worry about not getting your hands on this one if you missed it. I was mostly excited about getting my hands on this for my project to build a better version of Johnnie Walker Blue Label from 20+ year old Diageo-owned distilleries, so in all honesty I was hoping for something that wasn't too bold. Though as the addition of water showed bringing the proof down much at all tends to bring out the oak, this makes it a bit difficult to work with.