Loch Lomond’s three stills, three peating levels and three yeast types allow for an impressive thirteen different styles of new-make spirit to be created. Of the peated output, Inchmoan is probably the most recognisable currently – the distillery has released half a dozen bottlings over the last couple of years. But, if you look a little wider you’ll find there’s a much greater canvas of smoky Lomond to explore.
Whilst Lomond themselves are currently sticking to Inchmoan as their peated OB, both the heavily peated Croftengea and Inchfad (all named after islands on the Loch – but mainly used as an internal distillery shorthand) can be found via independent bottlers. Today’s Loch Lomond comes courtesy of the ever-reliable Cadenhead’s in the form of a 2007 11 year bottled for their Authentic Collection.
Released a couple of months back, the expression is drawn from a single ex-bourbon hogshead and is delivered at 55.9% ABV. Whilst the peating level is not indicated on the bottle (indeed, there’s no external indication of peating whatsoever), I’m informed that this would broadly fall under the Croftengea heavily peated style – primarily utilised for blending, but over the last couple of years increasingly available as a single malt in its own right.
Nose: Smoke is immediate, but lightly wafting rather than powerfully pervasive – it’s straight out of an oily engine room with rubber tyres joining earthy peatiness. Barley, hay and other dried grasses provide a countryside backbone that’s reinforced by gentle farmyardiness. Sweetness comes from bananas and grapefruit, whilst in the background there are chopped almonds and nettles. The addition of water unlocks toffee and coal dust, whilst increasing the herbalness with sage and parsley.
Taste: The arrival is punchy and viscous combining barley water with pungent smoke, scorched dried soils and more than a bit of Lomond funk. Fruitiness rolls in during the development offering sour lemons, grapefruit tartness and hints of tropicalness (pineapple). The mid-palate delivers honey alongside rubber and slight tar. Reduction offers a very different palate experience – there’s less brooding peat, and much more citrus – resulting in a sweeter honeyed opening, but a sharper grapefruit progression that reminds of Lockets Honey and Lemon lozenges.
Finish: Medium to long with tarry rubbery smoke and drying oak.
The overarching style of this peated Loch Lomond is right up my street – defined fresh and zingy fruitiness combined with murky industrial vapours. This 11 year old expression brings both sides together ably with both balance, but also a spirit-forward outlook – the cask influence enhancing rather than leading. If you’ve not yet experienced Loch Lomond’s peated output, it's high time your paid them some serious attention – they’re currently having quite a purple patch.
With thanks to Zander