Boutique-y Advent 2021 – Door 23

Posted 24 December 2021 by Matt / In Loch Lomond
The Dramble reviews Boutique-y Croftengea 14 year old Batch 3

Bottle Name: Croftengea Batch 3

ABV: 49.5%
Distillery: Loch Lomond
Bottler: That Boutique-y Whisky Company
Region: Highlands Age: 14
Glass Weight: 500g

Occasionally peated whisky gives me heartburn. And that’s super annoying as I adore peated whisky. Complaints about heartburn, or acid reflux (which is closely related) do tend to increase as we grow older – presumably as over time our bodies become more composed of booze than of actual flesh and we’re simply more ‘flammable’ as humans. But joking aside, having experienced this maddening sensation over a number of years, a while ago I decided to look into it further.

It turns out that whisky both is and isn’t a cause heartburn. Well, it is, but it's not necessarily always a root cause. If you are prone to the condition (mine comes and goes like the onset and departure of the seasons), many ‘bad habits’ – consuming food or drink high in acidity or fat, an overabundance of spice, being overweight, smoking, or spending much of your life in Starbucks will all also have a triggering influence.

Whilst many times my whisky heartburn will almost certainly be ascribed to one of more of the eliciting factors above (I do love a vindaloo – and it does indeed turn out to be a cause of distress enough times that I do question my life choices….before simply repeating them) – both alcohol and sugar are triggers for heartburn. And virtually all boozes contain both of these things. Some more than others. Beer is supposedly the worst – being both acidic and also carbonated, but spirits have something that beer is usually lacking in – congeners. And it turns out that congeners (also causally linked to hangovers) can cause a whole host of issues in both the oesophagus and the stomach.

And, in no surprise – peated whisky typically contains a higher proportion of a particular type of congener – phenols.

So, what’s the problem with congeners? Well, in simplistic terms, they cause the stomach to produce a higher volume of acid for a longer period of time and they also irritate the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) causing the muscle to inadvertently open and thus allow that acid to rise into the oesophagus proper. And drinking on an empty stomach – which is ill advised generally – will compound this phenomenon as there will be nothing in the stomach to neutralise the acid and its potentially abrasive effects. As such drinking whisky without food prior is pretty much adding fuel to an already burning fire.

However, after some careful scientific exploration, I.E. paying attention. I have discovered that in terms of my own preponderance toward heartburn – whilst peated whisky often has the most pronounced effect, it only really tends to occur when I have compounded the issue directly – e.g., decided that Ardbeg following a slab of sponge cake seemed like a good idea. Or followed up a curry with a choice selection from my Ledaig reserves. But my ‘normal’ consumption of whisky does not, day-to-day, result in me reaching for the Pepto Bismol.

So I guess now I just need to make better life choices *before* reaching for those peated drams.

We’re nearly there. And I’ll state right from the off – no heartburn was experienced in the reviewing of this whisky. Door 23 of the 2021 Boutique-y Advent calendar reveals Croftengea 14 year old Batch 3 – One of Lomond’s heavier styles in terms of peat influence and a release of 503 bottles at 49.5%. Sold out here in the UK, but you’ll still find bottles over at MaltHarry in Germany for €49.89.

Both Sorren at OCD Whisky and Brian at Brian's Malt Musings are undertaking the 24 days of Boutique-y this year – so after you’re done here, go check them out for some alternative views.

Nose: Smoked Philadelphia cream cheese, salted green veg and leaf mulch open proceedings in a suitably thought-provoking manner, before smoke reek toffee, lemon honey and air-dried ham join light ash and coal dust. Dilution presents a far sweeter outlook with candy necklaces, royal icing and gingerbread.

Taste: Less abnormal. Shame. Tart cooking apple and apples preserved with lemon juice sit alongside ashy smoky, clay and putty, whilst touches of gravel and limestone intimate a buried minerality. The addition of water reveals a very juicy (apple-centric) core supported by a gentle oak log fire.

Finish: Quite short with apples sprinkled with ginger and white pepper.

A less bombastic Croftengea than I’m both used to and naturally prefer. Here, both the cask and peat influences are fairly restrained – allowing the natural apple-y esters of Lomond’s spirit to take centre stage. The nose is arguably more Croftengea feeling than the altogether much easier going palate – but nevertheless, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional foray into blitheness.

Score: 84/100

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