The Inchmurrin range received a welcome rebranding in 2017. Rather strangely, the old branding (which featured screen printed scenes of a mountainous forest) decided to go down the route of becoming increasingly opaque with age. Thus, you could see what was inside your bottle of 12 year old Inchmurrin, but by the time you got to 21 year old, there was nothing to see at all – the glass was completely black and impervious. 2017 brought new style branding across the Loch Lomond range – these bottlings look much more like whisky now (straight-forward, modern and tradition), rather than vodka or over-priced water.
Named after the largest island on Loch Lomond (I believe the distillery has registered the names of many more of these land masses for possible future releases), Inchmurrin is produced in the distillery’s unique pot stills and has moved from being a blend filler to a single malt in its own right. The 18 year old is comprised of ex-bourbon, refill and recharred casks (just like its younger 12 year old sibling) and is bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Quite sweet and sugary - toffee apples and aromatic spicing to commence – supported by maple syrup, chocolate digestive biscuits, cinnamon buns and fresh-baked pastries. Natural grassiness runs throughout – freshly mown lawns, green twigs and golden malts. Reduced, this becomes sweeter still – orange peels, barley water and almonds all coming out to play.
Taste: A textured mouthfeel on arrival – slightly syrupy. Toffee, coffee grounds and dark chocolate are joined by bourbon biscuits, ginger spicing and sour gummy sweets. In the mid to back palate there’s an interesting (albeit slightly strange) acridness – part nutty, part vanilla/oak, part paint thinners – it’s hard to isolate, but becomes increasingly bitter and charred. The addition of water brings out much more cask influence – vanilla, sappy oak and tree resin. It’s also a touch more floral – lilies and camomile.
Finish: Medium to long in length, with coffee beans, chocolate malts and a steady sense of dryness.
Inchmurrin 18 year old is sweeter and perhaps more complex than the younger 12 year old entry-level bottling. The light, and fresh spirit character comes through very strongly here – but it’s less overtly fruit-driven than the Inchmurrin 12 and likewise, considerably more expensive at over £80 a bottle as of writing. Tastes of course vary, but irrespective of price, I’d still probably chose the brighter and crisper younger bottling myself – it just feels more in step with the underlying character of this particular Lomond distillate.