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Whisky Reviews

Loch Lomond 12 Years Old Sherry Cask Finish Single Malt, 46% ABV

 

 

Loch Lomond Distillery was established in 1960s, which in human terms may seem like a long time ago if you’re not yet in your fifties, but it’s a very young player in the Scotch whisky scene. It’s part of a larger group that also owns Glen Scotia Distillery from Campbeltown, the historic, albeit now demolished, Littlemill Distillery, and a suite of mass market Scotch brands.

Being founded in the 60s’, it emerged during a time when the Scotch whisky industry was undergoing a serious downturn, with many distilleries either closing down or consolidating. It was perhaps for this reason that the distillery was designed to be highly versatile and practical, with a wide breadth in the styles of whisky it may produce, a feature less common in an industry marked by adherence to tradition.

While most Scotch distilleries are dedication to a singular style and singular category, Loch Lomond releases a range of single malts and even single grain whiskies and blended whiskies. This capability is possible through the different pot stills and column stills that it possesses. The distillery is able to tailor their whisky's character – whether grain or malt, from heavy to light, and peated to unpeated.

“Loch Lomond Whisky” had appeared in The Adventures of Tintin as a Scotch whisky that both Captain Haddock and Tintin’s dog, Snowy, enjoyed.

 

Zooming in to just single malts, the distillery has at least 4 different single malt styles. It has the unpeated, delicate Inchmurrin; the semi-peated Loch Lomond single malt; and the intensely peated Inchmoan and the discontinued Inchfad which was also heavily peated.

If you talk about Loch Lomond’s single malts, you’d also have to talk about their iconic straight necked pot stills, specially designed with rectifying heads (also known as ‘Lomond Stills’). These stills are capable of producing different spirit types by tweaking the distillation process, from lighter, fruitier spirits akin to triple distillation, to heavier, peat-infused varieties.

 

Loch Lomond's straight necked stills (Source: Whisky.com)

 

These stills were originally designed by Duncan Thomas of Littlemill Distillery who wanted to efficiently produce a high proof new make that could fulfil the post-World War II demand by whisky blenders for single malts. When Duncan Thomas went on to build the Loch Lomond Distillery, he decided to use the same design.

 

 

Distillation aside, the distillery uses a fairly long fermentation period (by Scotch standards) of about 4 days. The distillery also uses various yeast strains for different styles of whisky, even experimenting with wine and ale yeasts to craft distinct flavour profiles – which speaks to the effort and investment of time that these folks are putting into their whisky.

Our focus today is the Loch Lomond 12-Year-Old Sherry Cask Finish. I initially thought this was a very new release because I couldn’t find much data of it online. But upon closer inspection of the packaging, I realised this was actually a special edition released earlier this year, made for the Asian markets to celebrate the Chinese Zodiac’s Year of the Tiger. For the art on the box, Loch Lomond partnered with a silver artisan from China's Fujian Province who belongs to the minority “She” ethnic group, to design the tiger-themed art.

 

Lin Weixing, a renowned silver artisan, helped to create the art for this bottle.

 

Let’s give this a taste.

Loch Lomond 12 Years Old Sherry Cask Finish Single Malt, 46% ABV – Review

 

 

Colour: Light gold.

Nose: Predominantly fresh and vibrant, opening with an assortment of bright, tangy red fruits, raspberries and black tea. Bittersweet manuka honey, a very light touch of wood polish with a faint rancio note of Madiera sherry and the nuttiness of roasted walnuts.

Palate: It’s sweet profile, but it’s thinner than anticipated. Opens with the dry, fruity sweetness of Sherry or Port, red currants, raspberries and F&N Cherryade adding a juicy element, intertwined with the darker tones of cocoa powder. The palate grows more astringent and we begin to see steeped tea, dry oak, then a subtle leathery texture and the distinct skin of wine grapes. There's a noticeable sharpness in the palate.

Finish: Relatively brief, continuing the theme of raspberries, more dry oak, ending with hints of cocoa powder and faint coconut flakes.

 

My Thoughts:

This is good for its berry-forward character and it’s overall acceptable. However, the Sherry cask maturation doesn’t seem quite compatible with the character of the spirit that seems a bit too delicate to stand up to the Sherry cask. We’re getting aspects that aren't entirely complementary, and the whisky comes across as somewhat too astringent. The palate feels lacking in depth or fullness as well.

We’ve seen some very enjoyable core range whiskies from Loch Lomond but this limited edition is not their best work.

Rating: 5.5/10

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

@CharsiuCharlie