The minute Strathearn Distillery started out on their own in 2013 and got acquired by Douglas Laing in 2019. Shortly after, they launched their first official release, simply titled Batch 001. To be honest, I had overlooked it at first. But then I won a 20 per cent voucher for Douglas Laing’s online shop on Instagram and thought to myself “Hey, why not try out this new malt from that wee craft distillery in the Southern Highlands?” Sure, the regular price of 85 GBP per bottle (plus postage) is steep for 3-year-old without an age statement. But sometimes you have to ignore such things and go with your gut feeling. And something deep inside told me this one would be special. My spidey senses were right! Strathearn Distillery made a stunning debut with Batch 001, offering a skillfully produced single malt Scotch whisky with a full body, a strong character, a colorful profile and a class-A maturation that makes the spirit seem way older than it actually is. When I finally sipped my first dram, I even discovered a couple of parallels to the collactable releases of a certain, highly prestigious Speyside distillery near the village of Craigellachie. Those of you who got the hint will surely know what big of a compliment this is for an upstart unit that just appeared on the scene. Normally, I would close my review with a statement like “Watch out, something big is coming our way”, but that would not be appropriate here. In case of Strathearn, my famous last words should better read “Watch out, something big is already here!”
Eye: When held against the light, the spirit glows red-brown with a tinge of orange. The legs are oily and quite slow-going for a 3 Years Old.
Nose: Sticky nougat and stewed fruits go first. They meet the heavy scent of old, wooden furniture and deep, earthy beetroot. Then a shy sweetness spreads underneath. It shows itself in the form of sugared berries, thick caramel and red English wine gums. Somewhere in the background, a spilled spoonful of balsamico vinegar has left a small puddle. Next to it, there is a heap of burnt matchsticks. The nose – heavily sherried, of course – is a total stunner!
Palate: The first thing I notice on the tongue is the whisky’s clean make. And its weightiness. When the liquid reaches my taste buds, it enthuses me with well-defined notes of dark chocolate and orange zest. They appear alongside blueberries, strawberries, plumjelly, brown loaf, malt and oak. Now, I also get a noticable ginger spiciness and something I could best describe as a flash of metal. The longer the whisky stays in the mouth, the more it develops a dry and dusty quality that contrasts well with the sumptuous sherry notes. I find the flavors to supplement each other really well – and the cask infuence to be strong, but not too strong. Wonderful stuff!
Finish: In the course of the mid-long aftertaste, the afore-mentioned dustiness becomes stronger. It makes me think of the velvet furniture in an old hotel lobby. Other parting gifts are soft plums, burnt raisins, demerara sugar, redcurrants, ginger slices and a gentle kick from the above-average ABV. Well done, Strathearn. I take my hat off to you.
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Region: Scotland (Highlands)
Cask: Sherry & European oak casks
Alc. volume: 46.6 per cent
Bottle size: 0.7 litres
Price range: ~95.00 Euro
More info: https://www.strathearndistillery.com/ (Distillery) ; http://www.douglaslaing.com/ (Parent company)