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That Boutique-y Whisky Company Strathclyde Aged 31 Years Batch 4

KWM 2020 Whisky Advent Calendar - Day 21

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

21st Dec 2020


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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  • Brand: Strathclyde
  • ABV: 45%
  • Batch: 4

Here we have yet another That Boutique-y Whisky Company bottling, a 31 year old grain from Strathclyde. The last time I tasted Strathclyde was seven years ago, a 23yo bottled by SMWS that was rich and meaty - I loved it and scored it a 92. I also compared it to an old bottling of Royal Salute 21yo and was able to pick out the grain notes in that blend, which was really fun.

The artwork on TBWC Strathclydes is a complicated diagram of the chemical process of wood extraction on spirit that would make Don Livermore cream his jeans.

The colour is pale straw (at 31 years, those must have been some well-used casks!) The nose has a very Canadian profile (a bit like the Black Velvet 1980s bottling I tried last night): buttered popcorn, nougat, white pepper and vanilla beans. Candied peanuts. Lemon meringue. Three drops of water and it becomes quite floral. I have a feeling this one is going to taste pretty sweet.

And it certainly does: more buttered popcorn, lemon drops and grapefruit. Very citrusy. Water (three drops!) brings on some heat and an even creamier mouthfeel than it already had. Enjoyable but a bit too sweet for me, and not nearly as complex as the nose.

The medium-length finish is very lemony, with some chili heat and toasty oak. The hot spice notes are a nice respite from the almost cloyingly sweet nature of this one, but for me it doesn't really work, and lacks the meaty character of Strathclyde that I've noticed before. Similar to the last time I tasted this distillery, I've got a dram of Royal Salute 21 (newer bottling) to put next to it. Of course, you can't really compare a grain with a blend, and indeed it turned out to be fruitless, as the RS21 has a richness that the Strathclyde is sorely lacking, and I'm not seeing any real points of comparison.


BlueNote commented

@talexander This is very interesting and very informative. When you get to the end of the journey, I’d be very interested to know if you thought that the approximately litre and a half of whiskey was worth the $350. I get that the allure is that you get to taste a wide variety of whiskies, but every year when I consider it, I convince myself that I could buy three very good full bottles, amounting to about twice the amount of whisky, for the same amount of money. I’ll be very interested if, when you get to the end of the calendar, you think it was a worthwhile investment.

2 years ago 3Who liked this?

cricklewood commented

Nice review, I like that you compare what you liked about the last Strathclyde you enjoyed.

I wonder as Canadian whisky consumers how much of a tasting advantage we have over other folks when it comes to Scottish grain whisky. Well aged Canadian whisky is very similar in parameters and profile, there are obviously differences but I wonder if it's perhaps less jarring a change than folks who've been drinking mostly malts.

2 years ago 1Who liked this?

talexander commented

@cricklewood That's an interesting question - when I read reviews and articles about scotch grain, they never mention how similar in profile it is to Canadian, likely because those authors are British and either don't get a chance to drink Canadian often so haven't noticed, or have a bias against it (like Charles MacLean who famously said "Canadian whisky allows for all sorts of additives, such as prune juice to sweeten it"). But scotch grain is so hard to find in Canada that it's hard to say if Canadians generally like it or not. Even if it were, price would be a factor: why drink scotch grain when you can swill Wiser's Special Blend with coke while BBQ'ing those ribs?

2 years ago 2Who liked this?

talexander commented

@BlueNote I've been wondering if it was worth it. For me, it wasn't about the volume of whisky as much as the variety - for me, getting the chance to taste something different, that I cannot easily get in Ontario, is worth the price. There has been some really cool stuff here, but I have issues with it that I might bring up with Andrew Ferguson. For one thing, there is too much emphasis on single malt scotch. Within 22 bottles (I peeked at today's), there has been only one Canadian (Shelter Point grain), one American (Maker's Mark bourbon), one Irish (Connemarra single malt) and one "world" whisky (Dutch Zuidam single malt). The other 18 were all scotch (2 grains, 16 single malts). So far, no Japanese, no blends, no vatted malts. I know scotch single malts are Ferguson's jam, but c'mon. Also I don't think we need so many from That Boutique-y Whisky Company (4). We'll see what the remaining three look like, but regardless it's far too weighted in favour of single malt scotch - then again, that consumer base for this product favours single malt scotch as well.

2 years ago 3Who liked this?

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