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The original Loch Lomond distillery was founded in 1814 in the village of Arrochar, near the head of Loch Long, but the business was in operation for just three years before it closed down forever. The current premises meanwhile was established in 1964 in Alexandria by the owners of Littlemill, a distillery in the village of Bowling on the north bank of the River Clyde.
Littlemill was founded at least as early as 1772 and holds a strong claim as the earliest known malt distillery in Scotland. Sadly however it ceased production in 1992 and its buildings were unfortunately demolished after a devastating (and deliberate) fire in 2004.
Loch Lomond meanwhile has continued to grow and develop and has arguably now become one of the most intriguing whisky producers in all of Scotland.
Constructed in a former dye works, a mile and a half from the famous Loch, the distillery houses a series of different still designs, allowing for the creation of up to 11 different new make spirits. Indeed, the distillery is almost unique in its ability to produce both malt and grain spirit in the same location, making it almost self sufficient as a blender. Further creativity takes place at the fermentation stage of the process, where different yeast strains have been deployed to create a unique wash. It is also one of the few distilleries to retain an onsite cooperage, with some 10,000 casks requiring major repairs each year and an additional 10,000 vessels de-charred and re-charred in order to bring life back to the wood.
The vast majority of Lomond spirit is matured in refill American Oak barrels. What at first seems a rather limiting wood policy however, is in fact a sensible control mechanism which prevents over-active oak from swamping the complex character the production staff have gone to great lengths to instil in the spirit. After all, what would be the point of distilling a wine yeast fermented wash in a complicated array of different stills, only to mature it in a powerful 1st fill cask and lose the spirit character?
This particular expression was distilled from peated malt in March of 2006 before being bottled in April 2017 from a single cask. 1 of only 282 bottles, it is only available to purchase at the distillery which makes it rather difficult to obtain, given that the doors are rarely opened to the public.
Smell: Fresh and fruity at first with apple, pineapple and lemon, then a touch of vanilla and Scottish tablet before a puff of ashy smoke – like barbecue coals sputtering to life.
Taste: Chewy vanilla, honey, apple and fresh pineapple at first. Then after what seems an age, acrid smoke and spicy pepper come rolling in for the finish.
Value for Money: For a bottle so tricky to get hold of, it is very reasonably priced at around the £50 – £60 mark. Well worth a purchase should you be lucky enough to find it.
A really fascinating dram. To use a rather tired football analogy, it’s like a game of two halves. Light and fruity, delicate even, at first before the second half brings smoke and spice and even a little spirity aggression. With each sip I find myself savouring the ripe fruits whilst simultaneously bracing for the moment the furnace turns up. In my head I imagine a bored football crowd doing that ascending ‘ooooooooooohhhhhh’ sound when the Goalkeeper begins his run-up to take a goal kick. Whisky as theatre! Whatever next?!
For more on Loch Lomond, click here.