Blind Tasting #18: Strathisla 2003 13 Years Old (Distillery Reserve Collection)
This is it. The eighteenth and final whisky of the Blind Tasting Competition. As I wrote yesterday, I was in first place for a long time, then dropped to fourth. Guess what? Nope, I didn’t miraculously won. I did defend my fourth place though.
Needless to say, I’m very content with my final position. Not quite as good as three years ago, when I last participated and ended in second place. But what I’m mostly happy about, is that this time around I proved to myself that it wasn’t a fluke. That second place wasn’t beginner’s luck. Apparently, I’m pretty okay at this stuff.
The winner of this year’s Blind Tasting Competition is Bram, of WhiskyNerds fame. Up until the start of this year he was the chairman of the Usquebaugh Society (the organizers of this competition). He had previously done very well, but this is his first win. Much deserved. Congrats, Bram!
The final sample turned out to be a Strathisla 2003 13 Years Old, bottled as part of the Distillery Reserve Collection. That’s a series of whiskies only available at Chivas Brothers distilleries. It was obviously a young, modern sherried whisky. So I went for something a little less obvious: a Tomatin 11yo Oloroso handfill. Go big or go home, right?
As mentioned, I didn’t win with that choice. But that’s okay. It was a fun ride 🙂
Strathisla 2003 13 Years Old (58,3%, OB, C#62274)
Nose: Dry sherry notes. Cocoa powder, dark chocolate and sweet and dried fruits. Some dates and raisins, for example, but also cherry syrup.
Taste: Quite spicy, with some almonds and peanuts, as well as syrupy notes of berries and strawberry. A touch of leather.
Finish: Drying with hints of red fruits.
Reminiscent of an Aberlour a’bunadh, which is a compliment of course. I’ve no idea if you can still get it at the distillery, but if so, than this comes recommended.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.