Once of the great things about taking a week of work and staying at home is - I can catch up on whisky reviews! While my daughter (home on March break) rollerblades around the neighbourhood and watches terrible kids shows on Netflix, I can make a bit of a dent in my tastings.
Hard to believe I haven't reviewed this one yet (though I did do an old Royal Salute 21 some years ago). The brand was founded in 1801 by James & John Chivas, and primarily features Strathisla malt (among other Speysiders). To consolidate supply, Chivas Bros. purchased the distillery in 1950, and remains the spiritual home of this hugely successful brand. The luxurious packaging shows various stereotypical Scottish motifs such as a lion, swords, thistle, a castle, etc but also displays a Luckenbooth (two linked hearts) which are on the Strathisla gates, and a sailing ship representing the Port of Aberdeen, where the company was founded. Colin Scott is the current master blender.
We're going to have some fun and compare this brand new, freshly opened bottle with a bottling from the 1980s (which has been open for about a year or so).
The colour is a light-to-medium gold. On the nose - soft red apple, a touch of herbs, light apple and heather. Buttered toast. Loads of vanilla. Could be maltier. A bit nutty with water. A safe and unassuming scotch, and a bit too much on the sweet side for me.
Not quite as sweet on the palate, though, with honey, more vanilla, summer herbs and a hint of smoke. Overripe apples. Nice creamy mouthfeel. A bit maltier with water.
The short finish has a bit of spice to it, with some caramel and a nice bit of peat. While this has elements that speak to luxury (creaminess, sweetness and a hint of smoke), it's fairly straightforward, without much to challenge the discerning drinker. This doesn't even compare to the rich complexity of Johnnie Walker Black (also a 12 year old).