Category: Whisky Tasting Notes


Kilchoman 2018 European Tour Bottling – Machir Bay Cask Strength (Islay Scottish Single Malt Whisky: 59.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale brackish grain. Slow thin streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Thick. Peaty. Oily character. Light menthol and moss notes. Peppermint. Water adds dust balls and soot. Slight salt.

Body: Thick. Oily. Toffee and caramel. Thick peat. Oily charring. Oily chocolate. Oily peppermint cream. Water makes creamier. Salt touch. Honey. Sweet apricot. Sauternes wine. Sherry trifle.

Finish: Peppermint cream. Peat smoke. Light charring. Water adds dessert wine notes.

Conclusion: this is not what I expected, not at all. The extra abv seems to have utterly changed how the Machir Bay whisky expression comes across.

At normal abv strength this seemed slightly light back when I last tried it – very enjoyable and complex but gentle. This booms with oily thickness in feel, matched with huge honey to trifle sweetness. Everything feels like it is delivered in a oily fashion – oily peat, oily chocolate, oily charring, and now added to that is a completely new element -oily peppermint notes. This minty menthol to peppermint character is fresh yet creamy and adds both a sweetness and a slight natural mint leaves that I did not find in the standard expression. It makes it feel fresher, bigger and more greenery touched, adding to and massively changing the overall character.

This Islay character Kilchoman have become well known for is more subtle here than in a lot of their expressions. It is smokey, slightly salt touched, but the huge, thick oily and sweet character used here means that the sea breeze and peaty characteristics are less prominent that usual. Instead the apricot spirit note I have noticed at the back of Kilchomans before is now pushed to the forefront here in big dessert wine like flavours.

Oddly considering what makes this so different is what the extra abv brings to the game, this actually works better with water. Only a few drops are needed to bring out the best, so it is still a lot higher abv than the base expression, but those few drops make it smoother and really bring out the sherry trifle complexity from below the oily character.

Again the distillery does brilliantly – a sweet dessert wine meets Islay whisky that is rewarding on every level. Highly recommended.

Background: Second of the samples I was given by Independent Spirit for doing notes on, many thanks! They had done a Kilchoman tasting night I had to miss, but kindly let me try this – an exclusive bottling for the 2018 tour. It is a cask strength take on the Machir Bay which I was already a fan of. This was tried directly after the prior Kilchoman tasting, so I was still listening to the new Spektrmodule podcast.

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Kilchoman: Loch Gorm 2018 (Islay Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Moderate gold colour with fast thick streaks coming from the spirit.

Nose: Smokey. Lightly salty. Sea breeze. Raisin loaf. Charcoal dust. Spicy. Turmeric. Seaweed. Water adds greenery and moss, plus a mix of rocks and salt.

Body: Sherried raisins. Smoke. Dried smoked beef. Paprika. Light custard sweetness. Drying alcohol. Water adds cherries, makes very smooth. Peaty. Light apricot.

Finish: Soot. Salt touch. Dried smoked beef. Overcooked streak. Malt loaf. Water makes beefier in a broth style. Malt chocolate and a red fruit touch.

Conclusion: This is both distinctly forceful Islay in its style, and yet somewhat restrained with great subtly being showed in the openings this provides. The sherry use isn’t overpowering, but instead interwoven throughout the whisky to add light extra spice, and a little extra sweet dark and red fruit character. It adds a gentle sweetness that smooths the edges of a solid Islay core.

So, lets talk about that solid Islay core then. It is restrained but still evocative of the sea breeze and wet salted rocks of Islay, showing sooty smoke and dried beef to overcooked steak meaty roughness. So, distinctive as an Islay but not leaning into the punching medicinal or peat assault of the more intense ends of the scale, just weighing in with a character that brings imagery of a seaweed laden rock pool and wild island character that the region espouses. It is very well done, layered and expressive.

Water brings out more subtleties from the spirit – cheekier red fruit, but more tellingly an apricot sweetness that seems to belong to the spirit itself rather than the sherry ageing. An odd element but one I have seen in the background of a couple of Kilchoman now. The Islay character is still the core, but the more restrained expression lets a surprising amount of lighter notes through to play.

This is very good indeed – as mentioned in the background, I had the choice between buying a bottle of this, or the port aged cask, and I really feel I should have bought this expression instead back then as this is very impressive.

Subtly understated, rewardingly solid – this is a Kilchoman that brings weight and range from the sherry but is not lost to it. Very highly recommended and my respect from this distillery is rising with every expression I try.

Background: This is the first of two samples I was given by Independent Spirit for doing notes on, many thanks! They had done a Kilchoman tasting night I had to miss, but kindly let me try this, a sherry aged take on the spirit. This came out at the same time as the port cask, and back then I decided to go with that expression over this one. Time to find out if that was the right choice. Warren Ellis had put out a new Spektrmodule podcast – a collection of ambient and haunting music, so I put it on while doing the notes.

Tamnavulin: Double Cask (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: No age statement: 40% ABV)

Visual: Burnished bronzed gold. A few thick and fast streaks form from the spirit.

Nose: Thick. Alcohol touch. Mild Baileys cream. Pencil shavings. Brown sugar granules. Rock dust. Water adds cake sponge and cherry pocked digestives.

Body: Slick. Honey. Raisins. Vanilla toffee and vanilla custard. Rock dust. Light malt drinks. Smooth. Alcohol jellied feel to the middle. Figs and plums. Water adds more honey, golden syrup. Light menthol. Soft cherry. Sherry trifle and orange zest.

Finish: Malt drinks. Rock dust. Raisins. Heavier oily alcohol notes. Figs. Spotted dick. Vanilla toffee and vanilla yogurt. Dusty.

Conclusion: Hmm, I’m about to add water to this, but before I do that I’m going to get some thoughts down first. This seems decent so far, but I have a feeling that it is leaning very heavily into the barrel ageing to achieve that. The dark fruit notes from the cask are distinct and pleasant – figs, raisins and the like are laid over a smooth body with honey sweetness at its base. Similarly the vanilla toffee of bourbon ageing gives a sweet and simple backbone to this.

So when I say that it leans heavily on the barrel ageing it is because, under that there is something slightly heavier and rougher tasting in the alcohol notes, if not giving rough mouthfeel to match. Elements you would expect from a heavier, shorter still but here in this lighter and smoother whisky. This being my first Tamnavulin I’m unsure if this is due to young spirit being used in this, or if the heavier, more oily viscous rough notes are part of the house character. Either way these rougher and sometimes dusty notes are off notes that feel like they should not be present in the whisky.

Water brings a lot more out – zesty orange notes that are delightful, against softer cherry notes that give body. It uses both ageing barrels to shoot flavour out, but even now there is a kind of heavier, oily off note underneath everything.

At twenty quid for a bottle I’m not complaining too much, but for all its flavour range it feels like they are trying to paper over the cracks of the base spirit. I would be interested to see what they do with older expressions – if that cleans it up at all or if they still show there.

So, not super great, but packs in a lot at a lower price than most.

Background: Another first set of notes from a distillery. Though not my first time encountering this distillery, or even this whisky. I first tried this at a mates house as part of a whisky night at theirs. Later I saw in in Sainsbury‘s going for just over twenty quid a bottle, so decided to give it a proper try as well, at the whisky night I may have been a tad drunk. Looks like this was their first official bottling for a while, an expression aged in both bourbon and sherry barrels. Prior to that it think it was predominantly used in blends. Put on The Youngins – The Youngins Are Hardcore while drinking. Fairly short album of stripped down punk so I put it on loop so I didn’t feel the need to rush the whisky to match.

Douglas Laing: Provenance Single Cask: Bunnahabhain 10 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Single Cask Whisky: 10 year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear, slightly greened brackish hue. Very light coloured.

Nose: Thick, salty, slightly viscous oily notes. Brown bread. Fish oils. Light broth. Wet rocks. Greenery. Water makes more salty, smoother, more rock notes.

Body: Honey. Rocks. Salt. Alcohol warmth. Gentle peat. Slight dry medicinal to strong alcohol character. Mature cheese, peppery. Butter fat. Water makes smoother, saltier, drier and less sweet. Vanilla and vanilla toffee. Slight lime.

Finish: Brown bread. Dry. Dry vodka. Gentle peat smoke. Water adds slight lime, vanilla and white chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, Bunnahabhain is generally an unpeated whisky, I know that. This still tastes lightly smokey, ok? I cant lie on that one! It isn’t a meaty smoke character. But there is still some. Anyway, got that out of the way.

Neat it is a thick, kind of fish skin oils touched, slightly alcohol warm thing with big honey sweetness against a salty, rocky Islay character. The higher alcohol feel makes it a tad drying, which doesn’t quite match the sweeter character but it makes a simple, comparatively gentle Islay flavour set with a nice oily, thick mouthfeel.

Water does a lot of good, removing the harsher alcohol notes and the accompanying dryness, but it also strip out the more interesting flavours. The sweetness becomes more gentle and the odd oily, butter fats and peppery notes are lost.

Water makes it the easy drinking Islay, still showing a light peat smoke (I have no idea how), gentle sweetness and light salt. Easy to drink but most of the fun is lost. Id say the more interesting texture and flavour of the neat whisky makes it worth the slighter harsher notes that come with it. Give it some time to air, to get rid of some of the rough fumes, but drink neat – it makes for a reasonable attempt at a balance.

It isn’t a standout of the Islay world, but it really shows the non chill filtered style with a very nuanced mouthfeel that would otherwise have been lost. The slight mature cheese notes seem to be one of those extra elements and one I find fascinating. Apart from that it is generic light side of Islay flavour, good mouthfeel and some rough notes.

Not bad, not must have, but a decent take on the light end of Islay.

Background: Been digging these hip flask sized Single Cask bottlings for a while, a chance to get to know a whisky reasonably without dedicating the cash to a full bottle. Though I have had so many now I needed to ask for help from the lot at Independent Spirit so I could look up online which ones I have already done notes on. Bunnahabhain is an interesting one, a generally unpeated Islay. Not one I have had a huge range of experience with so this was chance to try and sort that. I’d been watching Kaizo Trap tons recently so put on some Leslie Wai music while drinking. Mainly Paradigm, the track from Kaizo Trap. This was distilled Oct 2007 and bottled Dec 2017.

Teeling: Stout Cask (Irish Blended Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear golden touched grain colour with fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Honey. Strong alcohol. Lime touches. Thick chocolate. Crushed palma violets. Caramel. Raisins. Raspberry yogurt. Spicy rum. Coffee. Water adds slight menthol note.

Body: Smooth. Caramel. Port. Cherries. Honey. Smooth chocolate liqueure. Chocolate toffee. Water adds grapes, spiced orange and cake sponge. Smoother chocolate. Praline.

Finish: Chocolate. Fudge. Trifle. Sherry. Cherries. Light oak. Milk coffee. Water adds praline and nuts.

Conclusion: So, this is the second stout aged whiskey I have tried in recent weeks, and damn this is bloody lovely. I think that this has still had rum ageing, and that may be part of what makes it so great. I’m not sure if it is that, the slightly higher abv, or what, but this has much stronger whiskey style at the base that the stout has just added to rather than being dominated by the stout. That extra bit of character from the whiskey means this is far more complex that the already nice Jamerson’s stout aged expression I tried, and this all just comes together for something special.

Up front it is honey sweet, with raisins and spicy fortified wine notes that are very recognisable as Teelings. It is a tad strong in the alcohol neat. But that is very easily soothed over with a few drops of water.

Behind that is a very smooth chocolate liqueur character – very stout like, especially the sweeter of the imperial stout takes. I’ve seen chocolate notes in whisky before, but never so clearly used in counterpoint to the sweeter, lighter main whiskey,.

It’s wonderful – easy drinking despite the slightly higher alcohol strength, even with the slight rougher elements neat, and that is perfectly sorted with a drop of water. There is that wonderful Irish whiskey smoothness and honey sweetness, but the multiple unusual barrel ageings lets it run the range from light Irish citrus notes, spicy rum notes and the dark chocolate stout notes. The spicy rum works well, with the stout it create a real rum barrel aged imperial stout character, and definitely shows the spicy extra character to the main whiskey. It feels like those rum notes act as a stepping stone between the two sides of the whisky – making what could be separate quality Irish whiskey and stout elements become a smooth progression of flavours.

Sp. basically you get the smoothness of a good Irish whiskey, the complexity more associated with the Scottish whisky from the barrel ageing, and together it works so well.

Not stupidly expensive, very high quality, highly recommended.

Background: So, I’ve enjoyed past experience with the Teeling range of whiskeys – and this one caught my eye as something a bit different – from a quick google it starts with Teeling Small Batch as the base, Irish Whiskey that has been finished in rum casks. Some casks that had been used for ageing Teeling Small batch were given to Galway to age Galway Bay 200 Fathoms Imperial Stout beer in. These casks were then given back to Teeling and Teeling Small Batch whiskey was then put back in for a final finish to gain notes from the Imperial Stout. Whew. Think I got that right. Anyway, did notes on this after seeing Epic Beard Men live, so was listening to their new album “Season 1” which you can download free from – http://epicbeardmen.com/. I’m a big fan of B. Dolan, and his work with Sage Francis here makes for some tight tunes. This whiskey was another one grabbed at Independent Spirit.

Loch Fyne: The Living Cask Batch 4 (Scottish Blended Malt Whisky: 43.6% ABV)

Visual: Clear grain. Slow thick streaks.

Nose: Viscous. Sharp lime notes and alcohol. Floral and fresh grain fields. Water adds menthol and crushed rocks.

Body: Smooth. Toffee and vanilla. Creamy lime. Cardboard underneath. Bitter charring. Bitter almonds. Water adds more bitter almonds. More water adds softer lime and creamier notes. Chalk touch. White chocolate.

Finish: Menthol. Lime sorbet. Rocks. Cardboard. Bitter almond. Water adds fudge and crushed peanuts. More water adds marshmallow. Brown bread and chalk.

Conclusion: After the awesome 1745 Living Cask I was very much looking forwards to trying this, less Islay dedicated, Living Cask. I have to admit straight up that it is a bit of a disappointment.

At its heart it seems a softly sweet, floral yet lime touched, heavily Speyside influenced whisky. It is ok, with a soft vanilla fudge base, lime high notes and floral weight – but then this kind of cardboard to harsh bitter almond underlying character roils underneath, leaving an unpleasant aftertaste as everything heads out into the finish.

Now, me being a man of the (whisky) world I figured some water would deal with that nicely – and I wasn’t exactly 100% wrong. It just took much more water than I expected. A little water makes it rough as fuck – but a lot of water and the lime notes and softer sweet notes come out, but now against a general weak low end grain whisky like character that really is not showing the whole thing at its best.

So, it is sub optimal – slightly rough spirit notes with water, slightly rough bitter notes, used with Speyside like notes that while good don’t feel special. I guess a living cask will have its up and downs, and this one is on the down side for me.

Background: So, I tried Living Cask 1745 and it was bloody lovely. A peaty Islay take on the core concept of the living cask – a cask of blended whisky that was never allowed to empty, just topped up every time it reached half way so it was an ever changing expression. So I dropped back to The Whisky Shop in Bath to grab this, the fourth batch of their non Islay ever changing Living Cask, hoping it would hold up. Put on Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes’ Modern Ruin while drinking- I’m still mixed on the album, it is nowhere near as intense as the first album, but feels like there is still more to tease out of it.

Douglas Laing’s XOP Laphroaig 18 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Single Cask Whisky: 18 year: 56.8% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed with slow thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Peat. Charcoal. Strong alcohol. Salt. Sultanas. Moss and seaweed. Medicinal. Dry cake sponge. Kippers. Brown sugar. Water adds smoke and oily notes.

Body: Sherry. Strong alcohol. Charring and soot. Medicinal. Salt. Charred nougat. Salt. Water adds cherries. Dry red wine. Huge peat. Tannins. Raisins. Slight peach. Grapes. Plums.

Finish: Soot. Dried beef. Numbing alcohol. Malt chocolate. Iodine. Water adds tannins. More malt chocolate. Nut oils. Tofu. Vanilla toffee and chocolate toffee.

Conclusion: Usually Laphroaig loses some of the peat and medicinal intensity as it ages, losing some of those elements that make the younger spirit so very identifiable. For what it loses there it however gains greater subtlety, smoothness and complexity.

This does not lose the intensity in any way, shape or form. It is sooty, peaty, dried beef, salt, seaweed and medicinal all in one, all punching out at the brutal cask strength. The sherry ageing, usually so dominant in whisky, tries to push to the fore. It brings, oddly enough, dry sherry notes as well as the more expected red wine notes, but they are backing the intense Laphroaig character, not leading it or controlling it.

Neat it is a brutally intense experience – there is sweetness coming like nougat that has been quickly charred somehow – harsh, with oiliness coming in from kippers to nut oils seeping under that. It feels as much as it tastes, with hard to place savoury notes weighing in heavily to ground it.

Now, if that kick is too much there is always water to play with, and the high abv gives a lot of room to do so. It still keeps the medicinal and sooty character, but brings out layers of dry red wine, sultanas, cherries and even odd fruit notes, before heading back into a dry and medicinal finish.

Now, I tend to wait a week or so after opening a bottle to do notes these days, seems to clear out some rough notes, so I’ve had this a few times now. Caught at the wrong moment this can be quite closed as a whisky. The intense alcohol, charring and smoke can close off access to everything else, and sometimes is seems even water play can’t open it up. Other times, caught at the right moment it has all the goodness of a young Laphroaig, some quarter cask notes, matched with rich red fruit and a mix of red wine notes that makes it utterly exceptional.

I love it – it is a super intense ride of Laphroaig and more. However, even loving it, it is a ride of high points and low points depending on how it is reacting today. For the high points I am happy with it, as when it is on it us bloody amazing and I have not seen such a mix of intensity, Laphroaig character and wood character work so well before. However at the cost, something that may be not super reliable on the high may not be worth it for you.

So, look at the cost, look at the info here, make up your mind. You call.

Background: Ok, this is very expensive even for an 18 year old Laphroaig, and those are not exactly common. I was allowed to try the tiniest of sips of a sample at Independent Spirit and it blew me away, but there was no way I could get it at the time. Then I received a cheque saying an audit had revealed I was owed money and well, so now I own a bottle. I don’t believe in fate, but if I did then it definitely wanted me to have this whisky. Anyway, cask strength, in a stupidly over the top box which is so wasteful, but I would be lying if I said I did not find cool. I am a hypocrite, grr, down with wasteful packaging! Anyway, I was nervous breaking this open, hoping it would hold up to my memory – especially after buying the darn thing! Anyway put on some old, more goth era Lacuna Coil while drinking. Still like their more metal newer stuff, but it seems to waste the vocal range that the singers have – old school is where it is at.

Jameson: Caskmates Stout Edition (Irish Blended Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Moderate gold colour with fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Creamy. Menthol. Noticeable alcohol. Soft lime. Coffee notes. Dried apricot. Brown sugar. Aniseed. Water adds dry honey.

Body: Creamy. Lime jelly. Milky chocolate. Alcohol tingle. Baileys. Aniseed. Water adds vanilla custard. Apricot. More chocolate and baileys. More creamy.

Finish: Milky chocolate and milky coffee. Lime jelly. Shortbread. Light oak. Water adds slight cardboard. Bitter cocoa. Chocolate bourbons. Menthol.

Conclusion: Stout aged whiskey? It had to happen eventually. Stout just makes sense for giving complementary flavours – much more sense in my opinion than the hoppier beers that have already been tried. So how well does it work in this case?

Not bad actually. It is pretty creamy, though with a few rougher alcohol elements, especially when taken neat. While the stout elements, especially chocolate, come through clearly, it dominates the whiskey less than you might expect. You get the chocolate, some small amount of coffee and a big dose of creamy Baileys like character. There is a tingle of fruity Jameson’s spirit character below, but the main kick of that is waiting for water to be added to it can come out better. Instead at this point it has a light aniseed like character that prickles around the edges in a spicy way.

Water changes things around quite a bit. It soothes the alcohol, though at the cost of bringing out some cardboard like grain spirit notes at the very back. However as a trade off for that it does bring up the notes from the base Jamesons. Now the cream chocolate notes come out around soft lime, vanilla custard and apricot that create a much more rewarding and complex experience. The apricot especially booms. Then soothes into a chocolate and shortbread finish.

So, stout ageing works well, very will in fact. The base spirit has some rough notes, even with water, and some of the more off notes of blended whisky comes through with water. But those are small elements and generally I was impressed by it. As time goes on a menthol freshness comes out around the whole thing, unexpected, mouth tingling and refreshes from the heavier chocolate notes.

Not super refined, but very good flavour for a very good price and definitely shows that stout ageing whiskey is something worth investing time in.

Background: This sample was a gift from a friend from work – thanks Matt! He also did the photo of his bottle so I had something to go here, so double thanks. Anyway, the naming is pretty self explanatory. Jameson’s gave whiskey casks to the Franciscan Well brewery which stored stout in it. This cask was then given back to Jamerson who aged whiskey in it. Makes sense right? I’ve run into IPA aged whiskey before but this is my first encounter with stout aged ones. Put on some Miracle Of Sound while drinking this. I would claim it is because both of them are from Ireland, but really I just love his music. It’s awesome.

Kilchoman: Port Cask: 2018 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 50% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed with a red to rose wine hue. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Oily. Burnt tyres. Potpourri. Rose wine. Toast. Petals. Ash and smoke. Cold cellars. Brown sugar.

Body: Strawberry. Tingling alcohol. Dusty. Charred toast and brown bread. Soot. Water adds peat, cherries, perfume air, soft cherryaid and salt.

Finish: Dusty. Toast. Salt. Red berries. Muted red wine. Malt drinks and malt chocolate. Water adds toffee and caramel. Riesen chocolate chews. Soot. Dried apricot. Cherries.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a lot better than my first encounter with it at a whisky tasting night. It probably helps that this time it isn’t the fourth whisky in the rotation, plus it has had some time to breath. Anyway, back then I was worried that I had grabbed a dull one and had it waiting for me at home. Now? Well let us see.

Neat it is still lacklustre and a bit closed. It is a mix of sooty and perfumed in the body, which was weird as it had a very enticing oily aroma enticing you in, just seeping slowly over the lip of the glass, but the actual sipping of it gives none of that. Without water that closed nature means you get very little of the port influence. It actually felt kind of toast like – quite drab.

Water makes a big different. It is still slightly closed and more sooty than peaty, but now it has subtle red fruit in the body, and that element raises more the more you add extra water into the mix. I find it odd as it is muted in the red fruit and muted in the Islay characteristics – both individual elements feel weak, but together it is more than the sum of its parts. The subtle red fruit behind soot works better than I would have imagined it would. Grounded, ash over muted red wine and cherries. Still not great one, but somehow these elements come together to accentuate each other well.

So, not as good in my opinion as the demand for it would suggest, especially before giving it some time to air where it was very closed. Now, well it is a solid sooty, smokey whisky against good use of port. Well with water at least. I respect it, but can’t say I would recommend it highly against the other Islays or even the other Kilchomans. Interesting as one of the little done port aged Islay, but far from a must have.

Background: Had this for a short while before trying – I had to grab it fast as it is one of 10,000 bottles and they flew off the shelves. Kilchoman has been a lovely new Islay distillery, and I’m generally a fan of Port Cask ageing so it seemed like a must buy. I was a bit nervous though – after buying it I had tried it at an Independent Spirit Uber whisky tasting and found it kind of average- plus on immediately breaking this open the first dram seemed similarly mediocre. Still, as I do with whisky these days I left it a week or so after opening before doing notes – lets see if a bit of time to breath has helped it. Put on some of The Royal They while drinking – their mix of quirky tunes yet solid lyrics delivered often in a more upbeat sound than the actual message would lead you to expect has made me a fan.

Loch Lomond: 18 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 18 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold. Slow, thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Alcohol air. Dark fruit. Blueberry. Twigs. Vanilla. Raisins. Caramelised brown sugar. Water adds menthol and gooseberries.

Body: Very smooth. Blueberries. Raisins. Light alcohol taste. Small red berries. Moss. Dried teabags and tannins. Water adds apricot syrup. Oak. Custard slices.

Finish: Moss. Charred oak. Light alcohol air. Malt chocolate. Slight sour toffee. Teabags. Water adds fudge. Tart grapes. Lightly metallic.

Conclusion: This feels like it is aiming to take Loch Lomond on the same sort of spirit journey that the more prestigious distilleries such as Glenfiddich and Glenlivet do with their 18 years. You know, the ones where they emphasise the dark fruit a bit more, make the main whisky very smooth, that kind of thing. Now, those famous whiskies aren’t perfect in my opinion, but still this one feels like it isn’t really reaching their level.

Now let’s look at what it does have. It has the dark fruit – in raisins, blueberries and touches of slightly tarter small red berries. That aspect works. It is pretty smooth as well, especially with water, so not too bad on that side either. It comes within spitting distance of what it is trying to do is what I am saying.

However there is, well, a kind of alcohol air, like cheaper grain spirit, along with heavy teabag like tannin notes that would have worked in a heavier whisky but felt odd in this smoother fruit fest. Water does help with that, bringing out a smoother flavour, but still with an odd, slightly closed element that is half way between tart grapes and slight metallic notes in the finish.

It feels close to what it should be – the flavours are big all the way into the finish, which is good, it is smooth in the body which is good, but tainted by those off notes that makes it feel like an also ran of the whisky world.

Ok, but far behind the competition.

Background: This is another one grabbed from The Whisky Shop in town, they had a huge range of Loch Lomond in minis so I decided to grab a bit older one to see how it goes. Not been a huge Loch Lomond fan up to now, but some whiskies only really shine in their later years. Put on The Eels: End Times while drinking- only just grabbed it. I always like The Eels, they always feel happy in a sad way, or sad in a happy way, and says that is ok either way. Which is nice.

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