Strathisla is one of Scotland's oldest malt whisky distilleries. While it is not the oldest (that honour goes to Glenturret, which opened in 1775), Strathisla is the longest continuous operating distillery, having been in constant production since its founding in 1786. The distillery is located near to the town of Keith in the Speyside region and sits on the bank of the River Isla, from which it gets its name. The original name of the distillery was Milltown and this was only changed to Strathisla in 1951, following some restoration work by the new owners Chivas Brothers. They are still the owners of Strathisla, with Chivas Brothers now being part of the larger Pernod Ricard drinks group.
Much of the 2.5 million litres produced every year at Strathisla goes towards the highly popular Chivas Regal blended whisky range, with only a small percentage being released as single malt. These single malts have a cult following of whisky drinkers. The core range released by the distillery is small (currently only a 12 and a 15 years old) and relatively hard to find. Releases by independent bottlings companies are more available and are a good way to explore this distillery.
This has been matured in a bourbon cask by the Glasgow based independent bottling company Douglas Laing & Co. It forms part of their 'Provenance' range that showcases whiskies from lesser known distilleries from all over Scotland. The colour is light (imagine a pale lemon with a slight green grass-like tinge). The nose is also light with vanilla as the predominant character but with something herbal (think of dried grasses) and some sweet cereals coming through also. On the palate, this whisky has a fuller body than the nose suggests, feeling quite creamy and coating the inside of your mouth. Again, the vanilla is prominent as are the grassiness and sweet cereals. These are joined by some warm spices (imagine ginger and nutmeg) and a hint of something sharp and citric (like lemon juice). The finish is short and sharp but quite refreshing, with the grassy note really coming out. A bottle should cost around £40 from specialist whisky retailers only. Perfect for a hot Summer's day!