Stratheden The Lost Distillery - Deluxe vs Vintage
Stratheden - The Lost Distillery
Quite recently a new whisky company appeared on my radar; The Lost Distillery Company. Their business concept is to bring life to long lost distilleries. They have obtained the rights to twenty odd distilleries, and have started the meticulous work of researching what kind of whisky they once produced. They will look at any available data, such as time period, location, water source, barley (type and where grown), yeast, peat, mash tun, wash back, stills, cask policy and cask types. Then they go to task, CSI style, and build a profile of what they believe that distillery's whisky would have been like. Then, as the final step, they go about creating a blended malt (vatted malt) that is their best guess at what kind of whisky that lost distillery would have produced where they still in operation. All in all The Lost Distillery Company spend six months or more creating one of their products in this manner.
The whole concept is quite fascinating and intriguing for a whisky nerd like myself. There's a lot of history to be learnt here, and a lot of the historical facts about the distilleries is actually made freely available on the website. Go here to find the background on Stratheden, which is the first Lost Distillery I will review here.
All whiskies in this series will be non-chill filtered, with no artificial coloring, and they will stick with an ABV of 46 % or above. All distilleries will be available as two different expressions, a Deluxe and a Vintage expression. The Vintage is the premium version.
Stratheden itself was in operation from 1829 till 1926. They were located in the Lowland region, in the Auchtermuchty in Fife. The distillery was also known as Auchtermuchty Distillery for part of it's existence. Parts of the old production buildings are still standing, but there is no whisky production here.
Stratheden Distillery was owned by one family, for three generations; the Bonthrone family. Historical notes describe the whisky they produced as a quality whisky with a style that distinguished them from other Lowland whiskies at the time. It was full-bodied, with a distinct sherry influence, and a pronounced peaty character.
Stratheden Deluxe, NAS, 46 %
I will first take a look at the standard version, the Stratheden Deluxe. This whisky won the award for best blended whisky at the Oslo Whiskyfestival in November 2013. It is available at the Vinmonopolet at NOK 690 (item number 874201). In Sweden you can get this at Systembolaget at SEK 599 (item number 84316). Online you can buy this whisky at around € 60.
Nose (23/25): Sweet, full-bodied and quite fresh! Lots of fruits! Orange, vanilla, licorice, vanilla biscuits and mille-feuille cream cake (Napoleon). I do detect some peat smoke lingering in the background, but it is not very noticeable - more like an added spice.
Taste (22/25): Mild caramel, licorice, salt and vanilla. It is smooth as velvet - very nice mouth feel.
Finish (21/25): Medium long, and well rounded. More sweet at first, then gradually it turns more salty and there's a touch of smoke in the end.
Balance (22/25): This is a very nice whisky. I was about to say 'very nice blend' at first, but there's nothing here that announces this to be a blend to me. It's just a very well crafted whisky.
Stratheden Vintage, NAS, 46 %
Now we move on to the Vintage expression. This is still a NAS (No Age Statement), but the whiskies used in this blend are in general older than the ones used in the Deluxe. The Stratheden Vintage is not yet available for sale in Norway or Sweden, but it can be purchased online for about € 175.
Nose (23/25): Again a very appealing nose, quite lovely actually. Green apples, orange juice, old school ice cream cone, vanilla. Very elegant. I can hardly detect any smoke here. Other than that it is similar to the Deluxe, just a little more here and there.
Taste (22/25): Mild caramel, ginger, some citrus notes, and a whiff of smoke. It has the same lovely mouth feel as the Deluxe.
Finish (23/25): Wow, this is were the difference between the two expressions really kicks in. The smoke is more pronounced here, the sweetness is deeper and more savory, and the mouth feel is more oily/creamy. Demerara sugar, liquid honey, white pepper, vanilla and right at the end - a touch of cinnamon. The finish is lingering, which makes me happy.
Balance (22/25): There's more of everything here, compared to the Deluxe expression. Which is quite an accomplishment, seeing as the Deluxe is also a very good product. The finish is really what separates the two expressions. It is very clear that The Lost Distillery team really know what they are doing.
Sláinte! - Thomas