Loch Lomond’s heavily peated ‘Croftengea’ is more often utilised as a blending component than it is a single malt. I can find only 48 single malt examples of it on WhiskyBase and the Society have bottled 21 of these. Not seen on the Society’s outturn list for quite some years, this example also been subjected to a slightly unusual maturation, having spent four years in an ex-bourbon barrel before being transferred for some 11 years into a 2nd fill sherry cask – tired ex-bourbon? a leaky original cask? or just an inspired re-rack? Light Peated profile.
Nose: Very savoury. Very meaty. Herb-crusted loin of beef with gravy and a side of crispy kale and nettles. Pork scratchings, smoked BBQ ribs and freshly tanned leather. There’s minerality here – wet slate – and a ton of greenhouse – sun ripened fruits and vegetables. The addition of water brings out some of the sherry cask influence, toffee coated pears, dates and raisins. Both side play together very amicably.
Taste: Unexpected and challenging. Meats again – brisket, chops, ribs…you get the idea. But now seasoned with chopped nuts, mint sauce and just a hint of rubber inner tubes. Deeper flavours are more sherry-focussed, milk chocolate, toffee, sponge cake, raisins and treacle sauce. What a combination – almost an entire meal in one! Water further emphasises the sherry flavours, as well as adding in poached pears and a touch of well-seasoned oak.
Finish: Medium in length, slightly salty and packed full of beefy flavour – steak jus, reduced stock and a hint of star anise.
Make no mistake, this Croftengea is quite unusual. It again follows a theme of particularly ‘meaty’ whiskies from this month’s SMWS outturn – though to my mind, this is the best of the bunch of the ones I tasted. A fascinating concoction covering all three courses of a Sunday lunch and yet still managing to maintain balance, poise and liveliness. Unusual, delicious and certainly inspired. My joint top pick of this month – highly recommended.