Loch Lomond (Pronounced: Loch Low-mond)
55°59'38.616 N, 4°34'35.1876 W
Littlemill, Inverleven, Auchentoshan, Glengoyne
Two pot stills, four 'Lomond' stills and one column still
12,000,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
Loch Lomond DCL (Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Ltd.)
Lomond Estate, Alexandria, G83 0TL Scotland, UK
Yes - with many different brands
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
2004 - The Loch Lomond distillery already produced a large number of different brands in the past (Loch Lomond, Old Rhosdu, Inchmurrin, etc.) and in 2004 the
Croftengea brand is added to the Loch Lomond malt whisky portfolio.
2005 - The 'Craiglodge' and 'Inchmoan' single malt whisky brands are launched.
2006 - The 'Inchfad' malt whisky brand is added to Loch Lomond's whisky portfolio.
2008 - In 2008 the Scotch Whisky Association (the SWA; a lobby organisation for large whisky producers) proposed new legislation that would outlaw the use of the phrase 'single malt whisky' on most bottles of whisky that were produced at the Loch Lomond distillery. Loch Lomond proposed a separate category for some of their unique types of whisky, but the SWA rejected their proposals. Unrelated fact: Loch Lomond also has a 'Glen's Vodka' brand.
2012 - Loch Lomond Distillery Company fell to a £199,000 pre-tax loss in 2012. Even though turnover rose by 0.9% to £18.5 million, these gains were offset by rising costs. On the other hand, net debt dropped by £3.9m over the year to £7.1m - so, in that sense they are 'moving against the grain' of the part of the whisky industry that is still cranking up debt like it's 2007. According to the directors: "2012 proved to be a demanding year and the directors are satisfied with the performance of the company. With continuous investment in plant and machinery at the site, the company is looking to further improve the margin in future years." During the financial year to March 2012, Loch Lomond distillery employed an average of 65 people, down from 67 in 2011. However, over the summer of 2012 Loch Lomond Distillery transferred about 16 posts to a job agency in a cost-saving exercise. (Source: Herald Scotland).
2013 - Early in the year rumours surfaced that Loch Lomond was in take-over talks with Exponent Private Equity, the American capital providers behind companies like Quorn, BBC Magazines and the Ambassador Theatre Group.
The Loch Lomond distillery
is an odd one. For one thing, as far as I
know it's the only distillery with exactly the same name as its (main)
water source. And that's not the only odd thing; because they have
three types of stills (two traditional pot stills, four 'Lomond' stills and
one column still) on the premises, they can produce an incredibly wide
variety of brands and whisky types. And unfortunately they do...
If you've ever bought a bottle of Craiglodge, Croftengea, Inchfad,
Inchmoan, Inchmurrin or Old Rhosdhu because you thought the whisky
was crafted at a picturesque obscure distillery by that name, you were
sadly mistaken - these are all brands from the Loch Lomond Distillery.
I'm not a fan of most of their work, but tried a spectacular Croftengea.
Loch Lomond is one of the more recently constructed distilleries in Scotland. It was built in 1965 and
production started in 1966. Ownership of their Littlemill Distillery Company Ltd. parent company was
divided between Barton Brands and Duncan Thomas, but the latter sold his shares a few years later.
The distillery was closed in 1984 after the whisky industry was hit hard by a recession. Glen Catrine
Bonded Warehouse Ltd. became the new owners in 1985, and in 1987 production was resumed at the
Loch Lomond distillery. Until 1993 they only produced malt whisky, but in that year a Coffey still for the
production of grain whisky was installed as well. After that date, whisky production at Loch Lomond
increased dramatically - but keep in mind that grain whisky is much easier to produce than malt whisky.
For many years Loch Lomond was quietly churning out its fairly
mediocre whiskies when the distillery suddenly found themselves
in the middle of a little riot. In 2008 the SWA (the Scotch Whisky
Association; primarily a lobby organisation for other large whisky
producers) proposed new legislation that would outlaw the use
of the phrase 'single malt whisky' on bottles of Loch Lomond.
Loch Lomond proposed a separate category for some of their
unique whiskies, but Campbell Evans of the SWA replied: "The
SWA, whose members account for over 90% of all production and
sales, rejects the notion of a sixth category. Traditionally, two types
of Scotch Whisky have been produced, Malt Scotch Whisky produced
by a distillation of a mash of malted barley in pot stills, and Grain
Scotch Whisky produced by distillation of different cereals, including
malted barley, in patent stills." Campbell then continued with:
"The further category being floated does not therefore reflect traditional Scotch Whisky distillation and practice. Such a move would undermine the proposals and confuse consumers. The product in question is in any event already covered by the term 'Single Grain Scotch Whisky' outlined in the draft Regulations."
Ah, yes.... Whenever the SWA can't come up with an answer that makes sense
they fall back on that old chestnut of theirs; 'customer confusion'. If there's anything
that confuses customers it's the endless stream of half-truths and outright lies that is emanating
from the offices of the SWA. As you may have guessed, Loch Lomond isn't a member of the Scotch Whisky Association.
The fact of the matter is that distillation of malt whisky in Coffey stills actually IS a traditional practice. According to Ulf
Buxrud, the use of continuous still in the production of malt whiskies was not uncommon during the period 1887-1945.
After 1945 the Christie family - the people behind the 'Speyside' distillery - apparently used Coffey stills to produce
some malt whisky in the early 1960's. So, let's all whistle the SWA theme song now: 'Twisting the truth away...'
1) The 'official' owners of the Loch Lomond Distillery Company are Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Ltd.
They also own the Glen Scotia distillery in Campbeltown - as well as a silent distillery in the Lowlands; Littlemill. Furthermore, the company has interests in bonded warehouses, wine & spirit wholesaling and spirit broking. The people behind the 'Loch Lomond Distillery Company' are the Bulloch family (including Sandy Bulloch) who bought the Loch Lomond distillery in 1985. They added a set of grain stills in 1993, so Loch Lomond could produce both grain whisky and malt whisky. This enables them to mix their own blended whiskies, like 'High Commissioner'. The Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse plant in Ayrshire also bottles whisky, vodka, gin and rum for other businesses.
2) According to Dave Broom, malt whiskies produced in Coffey stills are also known as 'silent malts'.
3) Loch Lomond is the favourite whisky of Captain Haddock - a fictional character from the Tintin comic books.
I guess that should be a slogan on many of their bottles: "best drank by fictional characters" ;-)
4) The peating level of the malted barley for Croftengea is 40PPM.
5) The Loch Lomond distillery has eight stainless steel washbacks with a contents of 50,000 litres...
Inchmurrin 13yo 1996/2010 (60.7%, Riverstown, Filled at Loch Lomond distillery, C#69, 295 Bts.)
Nose: Oily. A tad metallic? Grows a little sweeter after a few minutes, but it remains quite inexpressive.
So, let's try to add some water. It did indeed became more alcoholic and prickling - but remained inexpressive.
Taste: Hot with liquorice in the undercurrent. After I added water it seemed a little sweeter. Gritty finish.
Score: 76 points - it lost one or two points in the fairly harsh finish. Perhaps a tad perfumy?
Inchmurrin 1973/2010 (44.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Refill Bourbon C#3380, Imported by LMdW)
Nose: Oddly oily and grainy. Overall, it's quite restrained. Some cod oil? Some faint spices after a few seconds.
Taste: Sweet and smooth. Passion fruits in the centre. Something perfumy? Tannins. Dry, fairly bitter finish.
Score: 78 points - although this one is difficult to score. Bottom line: I would not recommend it.
Craiglodge 2001/2005 (45%, OB, Distillery Select, Cask #223, Dist. 26/2/01, Bottled 8/9/05, 434 Bottles)
Nose: Sour and immature. Very farmy. Cattle feed. Not unlike grappa. Not a trace of peat I could find.
Taste: Superficial and gritty. Very much like grain whisky. Young, cheap grain whisky that is.
Very much like stale beer in the finish - they've stooped to new lows at Loch Lomond distillery.
Score: 32 points - that's right.... this is one of the very worst single malts I ever tried!
The only thing that kept it from sinking any lower was the fact that it had personality.
Oh, the torture and humiliation I'm willing to suffer to reach my obsessive objectives...
Inchmoan 2001/2005 (45%, OB, Distillery Select, Cask #53, Dist. 5/3/01, Bottled 7/9/05, 397 Bottles)
Nose: Crap! Pretty much the same as the Craiglodge. Farmy and immature, maybe less expressive.
In fact, it quickly turned into a 'gutter' direction. Glue and maybe the faintest memory of a hint of peat.
Taste: A little sweeter than the Craiglodge, maybe with the faintest hint of peat. Beer again.
Score: 28 points - incredible.... What were they thinking when they released this?
Inchmoan 1994/2005 (55.4%, OB for The Whisky Fair, C#647, 222 Bts.)
Nose: Farmy - very much like the impressive '2004' release for TWF. But that's about the only resemblance.
Sharp and alcoholic, seems quite young. A hint of sewer smells? I'm afraid this one shows very little complexity.
Taste: Quite bitter. Hint of sardines? Martini Bianco? A fairly gritty mouth feel. Altogether quite nondescript.
Taste: 66 points - quite a disappointment after the triumphant 'The Whisky Fair' bottling from 2004.
Croftengea 10yo 1993/2004 (54.8%, OB, for the The Whisky Fair 2004).
Nose: Strange. 'Farmy'. Odd organics. Quite interesting - growing VERY interesting. Dentist? Unique.
It has whiffs of oil and 'grain warehouse'. I can't say I like it, but it's something else!
It's somewhere in an unexplored corner between coastal, oily and medicinal. Shows new facets every time.
Sweeter, fruitier and more complex with some time and water. I found gooseberries during a second try.
Taste: Sweet and hot. Smoky centre and finish. Wow, this is better than I expected.
Peppery prickle, mellowing out towards the finish. Smoke remains the dominant factor.
A second tasting showed lots of liquorice root and some vaguely fruity impressions.
This does have the power and punch of an Kildalton malt, but not the body or depth.
Score: 84 points - but it needs a few bonus points for character to get there.
Nevertheless, by far the best thing that ever came from the Loch Lomond distillery, if you ask me.
It's funny that LL seem to have succeeded where Mannochmore & Speyside have failed: creating a 'smoke monster'. Not so much in the nose, but on the palate. The Loch Dhu had just too much 'body' for me and the Cu Dhub simply didn't have enough. It seems they got the balance figured out for this one and the nose is very interesting as well. It seems a new contender has entered the arena, and it comes from one of the unlikeliest of distilleries: Loch Lomond.
Loch Lomond (Inchmoan) 29yo 1974/2003 (54.4%, Cadenhead's Chairman Stock, 210 Bts.)
Nose: Passion fruits and a hint of antiquity. Vaguely spicy. Some clay. More subtle with water.
Taste: Beautiful 'evolved' / tertiary fruits. More pronounced tannins after adding water. Metallic finish.
Score: 86 points - making it my second favourite Loch Lomond ever by 2008. Wonderful stuff!
My #1 so far was the Inchmurrin 34yo 1967/2001 (45.3%, OB for Sweden, Vin & Spirit, Sherry cask, 1800 Bts.)
Loch Lomond NAS (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 1999)
Nose: Oily and malty. No power, but more flavours than the Inchmurrin at first.
Becomes even oilier later on. Too much after 10 minutes! Loses a lot of points here.
Taste: Herbal. Soft and a bit sweet. Menthol? Bitterness. No 'challenge'.
Score: 58 points - not much complexity and 'depth'.
Inchmurrin 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 1999)
Nose: Malty, oily... more smoke than Loch Lomond. Vegetables? Barbecue spices?
Not very interesting at first, but becomes more powerful after a few minutes.
Taste: Disappointing start. Soft first, bitter later on. More complex after a while. Eucalyptus! Peaches?
Score: 63 points - notable improvement over time.
Old Rhosdhu 5yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 1997, 70cl)
Nose: The first thing that comes to mind when you smell this malt is 'Phew!'. Sickeningly slick.
Castor-oil. Sweat and cheap aftershave. Hints of coffee.
taste: The taste is very oily as well. Perfumy. Just too smooth - it's gone before you know it.
Score: 44 points - this wanders into Drumguish 3yo territory.
Perhaps only great distilleries like Lagavulin can produce something that's enjoyable at such a young age.
These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Loch Lomond Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Loch Lomond page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the dozens of Loch Lomond expressions that were released in recent years. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
Is the distillery or