When Donald MacLellan, International Sales Manager of Loch Lomond Distillery, held a free tasting in Hamburg last month, I had to give the event a pass. As the guided degustation already started in the early afternoon, I could not get away from work early enough to join the fun. Still, I made the best of it and stopped by at the venue during my (postponed) lunch break. Originally, I had only planned to say “Hi” to a few familiar faces, enjoy a welcome dram and go back to the office when the masterclass was about to begin. And that is exactly what I did. Before I left, however, my pal Flo from Loch Lomond Distillery’s importer Kammer Kirsch had a little surprise for me: Four spontaneously filled samples from some of the highlights of that day’s illustrious tasting line-up!
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Armagnac cask • 55.7% • 557 bottles)
Named after the so-called “peat island”, Inchmoan is a smoky single malt whisky produced at Loch Lomond Distillery. In this particular expression, however, the peat is not the only thing that calls the shots. The aroma is syrupy and delicate, but also robust. Cherry lollies, peanut butter and banana-flavored wine gums remind us of a candy shop at a fun fair. The taste is pretty sweetish as well and the mouthfeel is a little dry. Again, we are visiting the afore-mentioned fun fair, where we nibble burnt almonds, sweetmeat, licorice and other carnival treats. The lengthy finish has toffee apples, crème brûlée and sugar canes, but also some fresh fruits. All of these sensations are encapsulated in a thin but noticable veil of smoke. This particular Inchmoan was selected by Kammer Kirsch and bottled especially for the German market. If you are a peat fan with a sweet tooth, this one is for you!
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Manzanilla finish • 56.2% • 696 bottles)
This 8-year-old Inchmurrin is the youngest of the four whiskies I savored for this review flight. In regard to its scent, I found it to be sweet and strong with a dark edge. Mushy apples, wild strawberries and gooey caramel get accompanied by fresh (eucalyptus) and spicy (nutmeg) aromas. On the palate, the mushy apples return, followed by honey pie, rum truffles, cinnamon sticks and burnt toffee. As we let it coat our entire oral cavity, the oily liquid also develops a pronounced spiciness. Once gulped down, it ushers in a long and chewy finish characterized by dried fruits, chocolate cake and whipped cream. There is no doubt about it: This is an excellent whisky that shows just how multifaceted and exciting a youthful dram can be.
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Unknown cask type • 58.4% • 276 bottles)
To be honest, I have no clue what “Chardonnay wine yeast fermentation spirit” is. But apparently this strange substance was the previous occupant of the cask from which this 10 years old Inchmurrin was drawn. So what effect did it have on the succeeding spirit? Well, it gave the liquid an immense fruitiness and an out-of-the-ordinary character! Fresh pineapples, yellow plums and crunchy mirabelles were the first fragrances that entered my nostrils. Then, I also made out some bubblegum, a bit of lemon zest, a lot of flan base and a splash of rose water. When I took my first sip, the powerful 58-per-center produced a good burn. Once the acrid sting had faded from my tongue, I was surprised by a somewhat peculiar but highly enjoyable interplay of fruity flavors and darker notes. Pineapple slices dusted with cocoa powder and sugared peaches sprinkled with (slightly burnt) vanilla sauce were my first two associations. The ongoing finish had citrus icecream, honeydew melon, pina colada and red grapes in it. An accquired taste, no doubt. But also a ton of fun! Or as Captain Hammer would say: “Not my usual, but nice”.
EDIT: In the meantime, Donald brought me up to speed about the Chardonnay yeast thingie. Apparently, this term refers to the whisky itself and not to the liquid that preoccupied the cask: "The Chardonnay yeast refers to the fact that the wash (beer) was fermented using wine yeast usually used for the Chardonnay grape to give a different flavour profile to the wash before it goes into the still for fermentation. In short instead of being 8% and mellow sweet the wine yeast makes it 13% and super fruity before distilled."
Loch Lomond 2006/2017
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Unknown cask type • 53.9% • 282 bottles)
People refer to Loch Lomond as “probably Scotland’s most versatile distillery” with good reason. After all, there is hardly a style or design that the ginormous Highlands unit cannot produce in-house. With this being said, you should not be surprised by the fact that Loch Lomond’s classic stag’s head logo also graces bottles with heavily peated smoke-bombs inside. Like this 11-year-old single cask release going by the actual distillery name. When I sniffed it, its exceptional mixture of roasting flavors and sweet n’ chewy fragrances somehow made me think of roast beef with chocolate sauce. And when I sipped it, this mouth-watering interplay of meaty relishes and savory tastes continued to set the tone. Bacon stripes and milk chocolate were my predominant discoveries on the palate. But also cereals and brown sugar. In the sturdy finish, the smoke finally came through in all its thick, peaty glory! It stayed in the mouth for quite some time and after it had vanished, a sweetish aftertaste remained. Hell yes! That’s one helluva way to make an exit!
Inchmoan 2004/2017 (Single Malt / Highlands / 13yo / 55.7% / ~70 Euro)
Inchmurrin 2009/2017 (Single Malt / Highlands/ 8yo / 55.2% / ~60 Euro)
Inchmurrin 2007/2017 (Single Malt / Highlands / 9yo / 58.4% / ?? Euro)
Loch Lomond 2006/2017 (Single Malt / Highlands / 11yo / 53.1% / ?? Euro)
Loch Lomond @ Web: http://www.lochlomondwhiskies.com/ (Distillery)
Loch Lomond @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lochlomondwhiskies/ (Distillery)
Kammer Kirsch @Web: http://www.kammer-kirsch.de/ (Importer)
Kammer Kirsch @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KammerKirsch/ (Importer)
*** Whisky samples kindly provided by Kammer Kirsch ***