When I hear the name Loch Lomond Distillery, I immediately think of two things: variety and quality. Thanks to its complex hardware set-up and multi-faceted approach to whisky making, the large-sized Highlands unit is capable of producing an extremely wide range of styles all under one roof. And due to the great number of top-notch releases bearing either the Loch Lomond name or related monikers like Inchmoan and Co., drammers across the globe have grown very fondly of the distillery. The latter is especially impressive if you consider that Loch Lomond did not always have this reputation. In the past, it was mostly known as a producer of bottom-of-the-shelf supermarket stuff. In the last few years, however, its current owners have successfully transformed it into a real fan favorite. One result of the turn-around: We now find expertly matured single cask bottlings from Loch Lomond Distillery in the outturns of the world’s leading indie bottlers, such as Claxton’s, Douglas Laing, The SMWS, and many others. In addition, there are also numerous original releases drawn from single casks, which usually follow a simple but awesome formula: They are (consistently) high in quality and (comparatively) low in price. Out of the latter category, I recently savored four different expressions in an online tasting ran by Loch Lomond’s Brand Ambassador for Germany, Sebastian “The Spirits Alchemist” Büssing, and supported by Simple Sample.
The tasting started with an old acquaintance of mine: Loch Lomond 2008/2021 Pineau des Charentes. Initially, I tried this 12-year-old single cask release at Bottle Market in Bremen last year in November. Back then, I liked it so much that I bought a full bottle. So how did it resonate with me a couple of months later? The answer is easy: Just as good as ever! Our opening dram was a total crowd pleaser with fluffy pastry in the nose, bright fruits on the palate, and a wonderful mix of sweets, zests, and spices in the finish. But these were just the main notes; during every stage of the degustation, a multitude of other scents or flavors made itself known, too! Furthermore, the whisky had a super-creamy mouthfeel and a soft-yet-punchy character. It was top-of-the-game in every aspect! Next up came the youngest malt in the line-up: Loch Lomond 2012/2021 Limousine Oak. I found it to be really mild and rounded (especially considering its age and strength). Its most striking quality was a strong cinnamon note that dominated the sniffing as well as the sipping. Other smells and tastes included apple puree, lemon peel, saw dust, Capri Sun, dextrose, raisins, pineapple chunks, and cooled-off tea bags (soaked with peppermint tea). While our second sip of the evening did not have quite the same depth and complexity as our first sip, I really loved it for being accessible, palatable, and unique all at once.
With dram number three, we moved over into the fumy, sooty, and smoky world of peated whisky. Made from malt that was kiln-dried to 55ppm, the dram in question – Loch Lomond 2005/2021 Tawny Port – brimmed with greasy BBQ sizzle and meaty fruits as well as fresh citrus spritz and differing mineral notes (e.g., moist stone, rain-soaked moss). In the mouth, a delish combination of cream and chocolate joined in; it reminded me of Black Forest Cake. During the long and heavy finish, the smoke got darker and thicker … one concrete sensation that formed in my mind at this stage was an ashtray rinsed with grape juice. As I dedicated peathead, I surely had lots of appreciation for these special sensations! And last but not least, there was the oversweet Loch Lomond 2008/2021 Oloroso. For as long as it remained in my glass, I was literally drooling nonstop. The heavy spirit was so full of raisin, syrup, and marmalade that I would easily have taken it for a PX-matured whisky in a blind tasting. And the sweetness, though dominating, was just one aspect of many. Also during the degustation, I sniffed and tasted charred wood, fluffy pastry, creamy fudge, roasted duck breast with cowberries, and even a good dose of dirty, oily Campbeltown smut. Due to the latter quality, Basti of WhiskyGermany raised his hand at one point and proclaimed this single cask bottling a good alternative to the region’s native whiskies, which have gotten excessively expensive in recent times. Personally, I am happy to second this statement one hundred per cent!
Besides the quality of the drams, the quantity was another huge plus for me. After all, I find four 5cl samples a much better package for an online tasting than six, seven or even eight 2cl samples. During the 80-or-so minutes that we sat together in front of our webcams, we could unhurriedly focus on every whisky at length. And afterwards, we could even pour ourselves another round and revisit each expression to verify the first impression it made. To me, that is pretty much an ideal procedure for an online tasting. Ultimately, I just gotta say three more things: Well done, Loch Lomond. Well done, Simple Sample. Well done, Sebastian! Oh, and thanks for having me, of course!
Loch Lomond 2008/2021 (S. malt / Highl. / 12yo / 55.6% / Pin. des Charentes / 406 bottles / ~80 Euro)
Loch Lomond 2012/2021 (S. malt / Highl. / 8yo / 57.6% / Limousin Hogsh. / 409 bottles / ~70 Euro)
Loch Lomond 2005/2021 (S. malt / Highl. / 16yo / 54.6% / Tawny Port / 303 bottles / ~100 Euro)
Loch Lomond 2008/2021 (S. malt / Highl. / 11yo / 53.2% / Oloroso butt / 615 bottles / ~80 Euro)
Loch Lomond @ Web: https://www.lochlomondwhiskies.com/ (Distillery)
Wein Wolf @ Web: https://www.weinwolf.de/ (Importer)
The Spirits Alchemist @ Web: https://www.thespiritsalchemist.com/ (Host)
Simple Sample @ Web: https://www.simple-sample.de/ (Organizer)
*** I was kindly invited to the online tasting by Sebastian of Loch Lomond. Thank you. ***