Thanks to /u/stinkysauce for this sample.
So when is a whisky from a distillery not a whisky from that distillery?
When someone tries desperately to figure out how it was made and how to recreate it, of course.
Also the same answer is true for a crow and a writing desk and an Irishman, a Jew, and a Canadian walk into a bar.
So Stronachie was a distillery that was in operation until 1928, when it was mothballed, and all the whisky was drank because it was the 20s and that’s what you did in those days.
This could have been yet another of the long lost distilleries that disappeared because of capitalism. And we’d all be drinking something else.
However it isn’t in this case.
You see, A.D. Rattray, the Independent Bottler of whisky, acquired a bottle of 1904 Stronachie. And probably because it would have been a pain to try and use it for anything else (and silly to just keep it around), they sampled it and started to try and figure out how to recreate Stronachie.
The result was Stronachie 10 and Stronachie 18 A.D. Rattray. You can tell by the bolding which I’m reviewing today.
Benrinnes malt was chosen because of it’s similar remoteness and high altitude to the original distillery. They then age it in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks until it tastes like the bottle sample profile. For this one, I’ve heard they mainly used ex-sherry casks.
What I find funny is there’s no other Stronachie bottles to compare to, so in theory one could say that the 1904 was an odd single cask and what we’re drinking is wacky.
Or maybe it isn’t. What I do know is this: I like Benrinnes, I like people who take gambles, and I look forward to this dram.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Colour: 5Y 8/10
Nose: Lemon yoghurt, graham cracker, butter, violets, bay leaf, sushi
Really unique nose. Floral, acidic, and creamy. And fish?
Have I lost it? Has that one part of my brain finally shut down? I don’t know, but I smell fish on this. Not in a bad, “what’s up with their cleaning habits” way, more like sushi and rice.
Let’s not rule out my brain leaking out my ears just yet.
Taste: Rosemary, graham cracker, lemon, quince
More floral elements. Nothing as big as the nose to latch onto. Quite watery and not much else.
I didn’t actually know this was an ex-sherry cask until reading about it much later. If I had to guess, I’d say the casks were quite well used prior to this time. Maybe that’s on purpose.
Finish: Basil, thyme, lime, cream, ginger, wet cardboard
You remember when I said it might be on purpose? I think they may have just had to use these. Because the finish is a ton of spice and little else, save for a flavour that I haven’t had in my mouth since I owned a dog.
Granted he gave me peanut butter afterward, so it wasn’t all bad.
Conclusion: This starts out with an interesting nose, albeit with an odd fish note, and then doesn’t really do it for me. It’s floral, which I typically like, but not strong enough to add on to it.
The finish is pretty rough, and thankfully short. All in all, I’ve had better from this recreated distillery, and was somewhat sad by this dram. I think the cask failed it, or perhaps too much Benrinnes in ex-bourbon cask, or maybe even a bum bottle.
Oh well, hopefully better next time.
Scotch review #521, Speyside review #155, Whisky Network review #853