Signatory Vintage: Strathmill 1996: 21 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Cask Malt Whisky: 21 Year: 57.3% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold with very slow, medium thickness puckering coming from the spirit.

Nose: Heather. Honey. Intense. Pine cones. Menthol jelly. Alcohol feel, but nowhere near its abv. Peppermint. Vanilla. Crushed dry rocks. Water adds more heather to it.

Body: Warming. Honey. Custard. Crushed rocks. Alcohol gets very present if held. Apricot and fruit syrup. Golden syrup. Water adds apple notes.

Finish: Clean meed sheen. Menthol. Some greenery. Golden syrup. Warming. Water adds thick pear notes. Apple pie. Malt toffee and malt chocolate. More more honey and mead as you add more water. Then fatty butter, dry oak and white chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok this somehow balances a nearly 60% abv spirit with over 20 years of soothing and it results in quite the sweet beast.

The alcohol is definitely there, but never burning – even if held on the tongue it just becomes very, very present. Instead the high alcohol shows itself as an uber thick, chewy, syrupy feeling dram.

It is very sweet, honeyed at its best into golden syrup at its heaviest with smoother custard notes in-between. There is syrupy apricot notes dropped in, and even the menthol notes have a jellied feel to them. I’m loving it. In fact I’m loving it so much that I am kind of nervous about adding water – but I need to see what happens for the notes. Right now it is just on the edge of being too much alcohol and sweetness but doesn’t quiet fall over. I love it.

Sooo, water. I put in a reasonable amount and it is still thick as heck but now with pear and apple sweetness added in for some more complexity. It is even better balanced and with better range. Score! Such a burst of big sunshine fruit.

You can pretty much batter it with water and it still works. Fatty and buttery notes comes out and it becomes a tad more easy going but still a heck of a whisky.

So, my first meeting with this distillery and I love it. Big, just about smooth enough, chewy and lots of flavours booming in a sweeter style. Oh yeah.

Background: A while back I made the list of living Scottish malt distilleries I had yet to try. This is the last of that list. Now a bunch of new distilleries have popped up since, not sure which have actually turned out whisky yet, or generally available whisky anyway, know at least one that has done a super tiny 3 year release. Still, BOOM LAST ONE! Now to make the new list. Also looking longingly at the dead distilleries I will most likely never try as they charge a grand a bottle. This was available as part of The Whisky Exchange’s “The Perfect Dram” 3cl bottlings of existing whisky – gave a me a good way of trying this older dram without dropping too much money, even if it is expensive an a per cl basis. This was from cask 2098, if that means anything to you. Went with X-Ray Specs: Germ Free Generation again as music, really giving that a play a lot at the mo. Looked this distillery up in one of Michael Jackson’s whisky books after drinking. He lists it as “The whisky world’s answer to orange muscat. With dessert” which makes a lot of sense to me after this one.