Speyside Single Malt – 62.3%, 75cl

An oh-so rare version distilled in 1973 and bottled in 1989 by the independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail for the Italian importer Sestante. The incredible 62.3% ABV pays tribute to a period in the history of scotch whisky in which new make spirits were sometimes casked at the degree at which they left the still without the addition of water. Add to this an uncompromising maturation and you will find an unbridled, uncontrollable Strathisla, more Mr Hyde than Dr Jekyll.

Colour: amber with coppery glints


lively, opulent, deeply generous. The nose’s intense fruit evokes the colour crimson. But this first nose is just a ploy and instead of plunging us into the scorching heat of August, it reveals a muted and downy atmosphere, like an early winter’s morning. Blood orange, red grape, Morello cherry and Agen prune appear in juice form. With all this red, it’s clear that Father Christmas is on his way. Rich patisserie notes of Breton cake or marzipan punctua- ted by bourbon vanilla and caramel make this bottling completely irresistible. The nose is infinitely inviting! And, whilst it evokes oak in its most tender form, make no mistake, we are truly in the heart of winter – with incredibly delicate minerality as proof. An unequivocal style, the very signature of “old-style” sherry casks, is confirmed by the omnipresence of a sulphur note which, like a strong tether, gives the nose bite and flair.

such sweetness and vivacity! Oily and silky, it is generous and elegant all at once. An ode to oak: Brassens and La Fontaine, make no mistake. This rich and cheerful character is nonetheless quickly challenged by star anise and fennel. A swell of black liquorice, zan liquorice sweets and cutch sweep away the initial roundness. Oak struggles to temper an exacerbated mineral tem- perament without giving in to excess or bitterness, with the aim of re-establishing a semblance of balance. Yin and yang, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Finally, leather arrives in a climax and seems to work in harmony with the other elements.

sombre, dark, the colour of anthracite. For a short time the finish finds refuge in a church, or perhaps a cave. It wanders at night through the undergrowth along a wet and tarry path to finally catch a glimpse of the first signs of civilization, with its scents of peat smoke and cold embers. A path undoubtedly trodden by An- derson and the Grimm brothers before it. Long after, it becomes more forthcoming and makes a subtle reference to the initial red fruit.

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