Strathisla Single Malt and Distillery
The most important ingredient in the world’s largest selling Scotch whisky, Chivas Regal, is Strathisla Single malt. It is at the heart of Chivas which is a blend of mature 12 year old whiskies and contributes significantly to its distinctive mellow flavor. But that is not Strathisla’s only claim to fame. The Strathisla Distillery is the oldest working distillery in the Scottish Highlands.
Founded in 1786 by George Taylor and Alexander Milne, it is also the most attractive distillery in the Highlands. It lies in a hollow on the banks of the River Isla and looks like something out of a fairy tale. With its over-sized twin pagodas over low walls, cobbled courtyard, a picturesque waterwheel perched on top of a hilly little lawn, all it needs is goblins peering through its windows!
Strathisla is located in the market town of Keith in the Banffshire which is well known for its holy wells and natural springs. It lies in the fertile barley growing regions of Moray and Banffshire. Water for the distillery comes from the Fons Buliens. Keith has been a center for production of whisky for over two centuries.
Strathisla was originally known as Milltown distillery and was at one stage owned by MacDonalds Ingram and Co. before it was taken over in 1830 by William Longmore. He ran it for 38 years till it was largely destroyed in a fire in 1876. He rebuilt the distillery substantially and that is when it took on its distinctive appearance that we see today. The distillery was known as Strathisla between 1870 and 1890 but its name was changed again to Milton Distilleries.
It became Strathisla once more when it was bought by Barclay of Seagram in 1949 through its subsidiary, Chivas Brothers. Since then the whisky from this distillery has been an integral and major component of the world famous Chivas blends, Chivas Regal and Royal Salute. The distilleries from The Chivas and Glenlivet Group that were owned by Seagram were acquired by the French group Pernod Ricard in 2001.
The distillery maintains many of the traditions and techniques laid down during the earliest days of whisky production. The large wooden vats, copper stills and oak casks are very much in evidence. Only the ‘middle cut’ or heart of the spirit that is distilled is stored in traditional oak casks to mature. Strathisla Single Malt Scotch Whisky has a distinctive mellow honey flavor, fragrance and smoothness that carry through to the last. Most of the single malt from Strathisla is used in blends.
The official drink is a 12 year old but independent bottlers offer a wide choice of 8- to 25-year-old. There are about a dozen vintages dating back to 1948. In addition to being the predominant malt in Chivas Regal it is also used in other Seagram blends, including 100 Pipers.