The Loch Lomond 12 year old has been created using two distinctive types of stills that operate at the Alexandria-based distillery. The ‘standard’ pot stills are a common sight at most malt-based distilleries in Scotland. However the Lomond stills look rather like someone took a pot still and welded a column still to the top of it. Indeed, that’s not all that far from the truth.
Designed in the 1950’s by Alistair Cunningham and Hiram Walker (of Canadian Club fame) the Lomond still offers versatility though the use of three separate holed plates inside the still which can be cooled independently to control the levels of reflux. It’s someone similar in design and application to a Coffey still and allows different types and weights of spirit to be made in a single still. As well as Lomond itself, you’ll still find one in use over at Scapa on Orkney.
The Lomond website list the 12 year old as having been created from three cask types - bourbon, refill and recharged. I have no idea what this recharged cask type is, unless it’s a very specific type of refill that I’ve never heard of - the Internet seems to have zero idea either. On the same site, the Inchmurrin 12 year old’s makeup is listed as bourbon, refill and recharred (ah, now that I do understand) so I’m going to hazard a guess that this ‘recharged’ is in fact a typo. Regardless, countless bloggers (including from some of the bigger sites) have coped this wholesale without showing the slightest bit of interest as to what a recharged barrel is, or indeed whether it even exists. Sometimes you just wish there was a bit more rigour about whisky reviews...
The 12 year old Lomond is delivered at 46% and can be purchased for around £38 here in the UK.
Nose: Light and malty with breakfast porridge oats, toffee apple, doughy cookie mix and roasted nuts. There’s some youthfulness here - wallpaper paste and a slight coppery metallic aroma. In the background, citrus peels, fine grade sugar, wild honey and a slight hint of burning vegetation - wet hay maybe. The addition of water brings out the ex-bourbon maturation characteristics strongly - creamy vanilla custard and pancake batter.
Taste: Very fudgey. Seriously - the arrival is packed full of chunky fudge, creamy caramel and creme brûlée that’s just been under a chefs blowtorch. Quite delicious. Supporting this is chocolate sponge cake, coffee and vanilla beans and toffee covered apples. In the mid-palate, underlying grassiness is apparent...dried reeds, leaves and hay. There’s an unusual flavour lingering here - part metallic, part Playdoh - hard to define, but very ‘Lomond’. Reduced there’s more overt oak, as well as some nutty fudge - peanut butter it is then.
Finish: Medium with milk chocolate, vanilla and creamy fudge. Slightly drying and a touch tannic.
Loch Lomond 12 year old has plenty to offer for its relatively competitive price tag. Whilst the nose is gentle and a touch unassuming, the palate, with its delicious fudge-forward flavour, really shows off the versatility of the Lomond spirit. There’s still some funkiness here - you should expect nothing less - but, I could certainly see this being an interesting left-field choice for a daily drinker.