Mosstowie 1975 Spirit of Scotland

Are we there yet? The familiar question and answer session for any parent on a journey with their child. Well, it’s been just like that since Mark at Malt-Review kindly sent me this sample to review and the photographs on this page.

Have you tried it yet?
Have you reviewed it yet?
Have you tried it yet?
Have you reviewed it yet?

Jeez. I’ve been pretty occupied recently, much like an anti-Europe Tory MP that isn’t used to doing much, then all of a sudden is snowed under with work and a short deadline. Well, whisky isn’t work to be fair. The day it becomes so and a chore, is the day I shut down WR and move on.

Have you reviewed it yet?

Yes, ok, we’re going to do that just now! 

First up lets talk a bit about Mosstowie itself which is a distillery-within-a-distillery or as I like to refer to them as a DWAD. 

Now some see DWAD’s as not being true distilleries. I disagree with this viewpoint although respecting ones right to offer the wrong opinion. DWAD’s were very much of their time thanks to the take-up of the Lomond still design, which allowed distillers to (in theory) create a variety of core characteristics for malt whisky.

Their popularity was in the 1960’s and 1970’s when the owners were looking to centralise their blending needs. Bringing everything in house created efficiencies and also limited the impact of third party supply and demand. Imagine the horror if Hamish from that tiny Sutherland distillery couldn’t supply you any casks next year due to an increase in their own popularity? How would you look to replace a missing ingredient to your blend recipe?

I’m not going to discuss the differences between a Lomond and an everyday still. Mark the whisky geek did all of that during his review here. Moving swiftly on, past the whisky geeks on the right – don’t look at them as they bite –  are we there yet?

The Lomond stills that we know as Mosstowie today were installed at the Miltonduff distillery in 1964. These were decommissioned in 1981 giving this DWAD a very short period of operation. So Mosstowie is extremely scarce and rarely seen, but you can find off the odd bottle here or there if you search hard enough. Why? Like most DWAD’s it lacked a personality of its own, or an image and nowadays these are everything for the fashionista. This whisky was bottled at 19 years of age and 40% alcohol strength.

Mosstowie was a DWAD and came from an ugly still. You’ve got to feel very sorry for the fella and the harsh life it endured. So lets celebrate its existence with a review. Calm down in the back there!

Colour: hazelnut
Nose: quite spicy upfront which I wasn’t expecting with cloves, nutmeg and black pepper. It certainly possesses character in abundance. Then moves into creamy vanilla toffee, buttery pastry and there’s a herb influence at work here. Yes, a little basil leaf before the marmalade arrives.
Taste: ah, here’s the weakest aspect by far. On the palate its very short-lived, nothing pleasant but all a bit premature. A light syrup and plenty of honey laced with vanilla once again. A brief flash of ginger initially on the palate as I go back for more. Blink and you’ll miss it. Orange and caramel are in the mix as well. The finish is very subtle being Jacob’s cream crackers.

Overall: a solid malt, one worth exploring further and proves the Lomond still is validated all these years later. On this experience Mosstowie deserved a better fate and some recognition at least. This isn’t a Pittyvaich or a Jura; words guaranteed to send most malt enthusiasts into a cold sweat. Mosstowie mate, you’re ok in my book and yes, we’ve finally arrived.


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