Sometimes is the journey

Posted 22 November 2018 / In Loch Lomond
The Dramble reviews Loch Lomond 18 year old

Bottle Name: Loch Lomond 18 year old

ABV: 46%
Distillery: Loch Lomond
Region: Highlands

I often select whiskies to write about because they exhibit characteristics of a particular topic that I wish to explore – examples of aromas and flavours, particular production processes, industry trends or just new/upcoming releases that folks are eager to hear about. But, other times, probably like you, I just drink what I fancy – no pre-planning, no preconceptions, no agenda, Posting on The Dramble on a daily basis rather necessitates this subconscious diversity. I don’t enjoy, nor muse about whisky because it all tastes the same. When you’re tasting thousands of expressions each year, variety truly is the spice of life.

I’m really rather agnostic when it comes to flavour styles (assuming it’s well-made and in essence pleasant to drink), and I’d argue that keeping an open-mind is vital to ensuring that your whisky exploration journey is as fulfilling as possible. But, the one thing I’m always looking out for is uniqueness. I’ve got countless samples of easy-going honey-led Speysiders (that in due course I’ll write about), but more often than not, I’m looking to challenge my senses and presumptions about whisky – and sometimes I’m surprised. A great example of this is Loch Lomond. At the start of my whisky journey (some decades ago now), Lomond was a distillery that I didn’t have much time for - the Jura of the Highlands. However, not only has my palate and appreciation for whisky changed over the years, but so too has the distillery itself. Lomond have been producing some cracking malts recently and it’s now a distillery that’s firmly on my watch list. I suspect there’s even greater things to come.

Nevertheless, I still find some of their whiskies challenging – diversity and versatility introducing an inconsistency that is more to do with my personal tastes than it is to do with production. Case in point Loch Lomond 18 year old….

Loch Lomond 18 year old is matured solely in American oak casks. The rebrand (which took place across all of Lomond Groups whiskies) a few years back not only spruced up the packaging, but also increased the ABV of this bottling to 46% and removed the use of chill-filtering. Both good things. Then there’s the price – around £75. Not too shabby for an 18 year old age statement.

Nose: Woody and musty, but also aromatic. There’s a solid core of maltiness here – barley corns and toasted cereals. It’s supported by dusty wood and leather – an old but mildewed Chesterfield sofa – alongside damp chipboard and spent tobacco. Honey, chocolate and pastry sweetness are joined with some more unusual aromas –  brassiness, fish sauce, caraway and allspice. Deeper, there’s gingerbread and just a few wisps of charred wood smoke. Reduction, lessens some of the mustier notes and emphasises brighter fruits – apple and a touch of citrus.

Taste: Fuller-bodied and fuller-flavoured. The arrival has a solid mouthfeel which straddles oiliness and creaminess. It delivers a rather quirky combination of milky toffee, demi-sweet oranges and orchard fruits. The wood influence seems high here – amongst a scattering of dried fruits (apricot slices and sultanas) there’s cedar, plenty of cloves and a building white pepperiness that adds dryness. Water brings out some of the pastry detected on the nose – yeasty buns and buttered toast.

Finish: Medium, sweet with toffee, pungent with wood spice.

Loch Lomond 18 takes the DNA of its younger 12 year old stablemate and dials it up a few notches. The result is thought-provoking, but at the same time possibly divisive. There are challenging aromas and flavours here that highlight Lomond’s funkiness and versatility and I admire this nonconformity. But, despite enjoying virtually all of Loch Lomond’s recent expressions (especially the peated ones), this 18 year old doesn’t quite float my boat. The wood influence feels rather heavy, and to my palate it doesn’t allow the underlying spirit to articulate itself. As always, your mileage may vary. Nevertheless, it’s worth highlighting that this is well-priced for an 18 year old in current market conditions.

Score: 79/100


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