This is to whisky what the full English is to breakfast. On the nose, it features cigar store Indian tears. It’s sinewy, like a young string quartet second violinist hewing out a plucky pizzicato on an Amati violin–right under your nose. It’s also syrupy, but in a pointed way, like plum stiletto heels. [John: Is that stiletto heels for plums or plum colored stilettos?] (Given that that was Bill’s note, it easily could have been either. Or both.) The nose evolves into a redwood demi-glace reduced over days by Basque chefs: no matter what you do, it refuses to assimilate with your sinuses. This smells like it could have been finished in a Red Zinfandel wine cask with Mandarin oranges, though that seems unlikely. However, the rest of the descriptors here are totally probable.
The mouth is deep and rich, with prominent notes of dusty banana slices, cut rakishly on the bias with a crinkle cutter, and plopped atop steel cut oats. We also got notes of willow bark and fading headaches. The mouth moves quickly to the finish, like a genie who is so happy to be released from his bottle that he grants you three wishes before you realize you’ve asked for anything at all. All of this is to say that it’s magical, but a quicker than you would have preferred, given the magic.
The finish makes up for the fact that the mouth steals out a back window, and features sweetness at first, like blackberry pie filling. Then comes the spice. It’s long and low-key, like the rumblings from the drums in the distance in Heart of Darkness. The spice just refuses to let go, but it hangs on in a brilliant way, rather than a terrifying one. The finish is a driven harmonic oscillator. And it is downright chewy: it’s a meal of artisanal chocolate bark and biltong jerky, shared with the lady with the Chewy Mask. In other words, it’s a blast.
The Rare Vintage Strathisla 1967-2015 Gordon & MacPhail “the wood makes the whisky” is Louis C.K.–The competition here is strong, with Harry Connick, Jr. and LL Cool J–not to mention Vanilla Ice!–but Louis C.K. remains a notch above the rest.
Our thanks to Gordon & MacPhail for the sample!