The first time I came across the spirit of Loch Lomond distillery I was rather unimpressed. The bottle design was dull and dated and the liquid within wasn’t much better. Over the last few years however there has been something of a rennaisance under new management and the whisky relaunched with an exciting new core range that has grown to include three distinct single malt brands… Loch Lomond, Inchmurrin and Inchmoan as well as a single grain that is produced entirely from malted barley yet cannot be called a single malt because it is produced in a continuous still.
The Loch Lomond distillery houses an array of different still designs from column to pot to lomond, granting them the ability to create an incredible array of unique new makes onsite. It seems bizarre that such potential for creativity should be ignored but that is exactly what the previous owners did. A variety of single malts appeared over the years, under a dizzying selection of names, yet none of them really seemed to sell the distillery very well, or to highlight what makes it such a special place to begin with. It almost felt like their ‘flagship’ single malt was an afterthought… “Oh well, everyone else is putting out a single malt, I suppose we should to…”
Fortunately, since their 2014 takeover, there has been a drastic change, not only in the liquid but in the desire to spread the word of the distillery through tastings and festival appearances and even, where possible, the occasional distillery tour.
Away from official distillery releases however, the spirit of Loch Lomond has occasionally been released by independent bottlers, perhaps none more so than the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
Founded in 1983, this private whisky club has grown to include somewhere in the region of 25,000 members worldwide whilst retaining the ideology that kickstarted it in the first place. An ideology based on the theory that scotch whisky is at its very best when bottled straight from the cask at full strength, natural colour and un-chill filtered.
The Society employs a unique coding system which adorns the label of each new release. Distillery names are withheld but are represented instead by a number whilst a second set of digits denotes the number of casks that have previously been bottled and made available to members. Such is the variation in spirit that comes from Loch Lomond however, the distillery currently has (at last count) three separate numbers allocated to it.
Cask no. 122.25 for example, is a heavily peated spirit known as Croftengea, produced mostly for use in blended scotch. Bottled at 57.9%, it was available to Society members at around £50.
*Full Disclosure: As an affiliate of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, I can be paid commission should any of my readers choose to become members or buy bottles that I have reviewed.
Smell: Charcoal and ash leap out immediately. Wood chips, sawdust and vanilla. Brine and wet sand. Lemon oil and tar. Creosote. Liquorice and well charred oak.
Taste: Buttery smooth vanilla. Creamy malt. Biscuit. Sea salt and black pepper. Apple, pear and lime. Spicy oak and ash.
Value for Money: It’s young, it’s feisty and it has a ridiculous amount of flavour going on. A steal at less than £50.
Score: 44 / 50
A bit wild, a bit mad but not unattractive. Not for those who like a gentle, refined whisky experience. No. This is a dram for those who like to have their teeth kicked in by an angry young malt that doesn’t give one single shit whether the drinker likes it or not. Sign me up.
For more on Loch Lomond, click here.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a unique members only whisky club which releases an array of new single cask bottlings each month. Members not only gain access to this monthly out-turn, but also to the purpose built members rooms in Society venues in Edinburgh and London.
For more information on joining the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, click here.
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