When discussing purchasing this Loch Lomond release with my co-editor Mark, the topic took a predictable turn towards the presence of the Whisky Shop. Specifically, the question of when did you last visit a branch and make a purchase?
For a chain that has a visible presence across the UK, and in the eyes of many is their go-to destination for whisky. My own visits to the Whisky Shop have withered and died. That’s not to say it doesn’t serve a purpose for many, which I fully recognise. In Edinburgh, we have 2 centrally located branches. These do all sorts including tastings and their own releases. Yet when I’m pounding the pavements of Scotland’s capital city (note Alexandra: pavement), it always leads me to Cadenhead’s.
Many of us reach a stage in their whisky journey where they value certain aspects in a whisky and want to break free of official releases. Many of us value exactly that: value. The Whisky Shop is a little pricey for my pocket. This wasn’t always the case many years ago dear reader, you could reserve the Diageo Special Releases (before Brora prices went supernova) and as a member of whatever club at the time, you received a 10% discount. Time it right with a renewal offer and it was a one-off 20%, which given this was before Brora breached £400 a bottle was a sizeable discount. When Brora doubled in price the following year to £800 (thanks Diageo), that spelt the end for me. Mad isn’t it? £800 seems like a bargain now to some I bet.
Thanks to the tourist footfall in Edinburgh, these branches I’m sure do very well and further afield where whisky options are slimmer, the Whisky Shop offers a sense of escape and reassurance that you’re not in a minority as a whisky drinker.
Anyway, back to the question itself and neither of us could put a date on our last visit. Mark did produce a nugget that he was recognised by a Whisky Shop employee recently. Outlining that this was in a coffee bar, but I have my doubts it wasn’t somewhere hipster such as the latest Barista pop-up organic outlet, or a branch of Waitrose. In fact, as our Justine will confirm, Mark is recognised everywhere due to this website. One year, on Speyside, the Tormore4 actually started making bets how long it would take him to be recognised. The whisky public always came through.
In a way, it takes us to the influence we have here. I don’t want it, entertain it and would rather pay my way each and every time. Hopefully, my expensive portrait that now litters the site (thanks Alexandra) will give me some breathing room. The sheer scale of this place is impressive and daunting. At the end of the day, it’s about bringing you whiskies, an independent opinion with a scoring system that has no place to hide. Ultimately, I’m just happy to sit down with friends and enjoy a good whisky. Albeit friends and good whiskies are short commodities nowadays, as well as spare time.
Whisky unites all of us here and the search for a good dram for a good price. It is a universal thing that sounds so simple yet is increasingly evasive. I’m tempted to pitch the idea of a show to Blaze or some other backwater free-tv channel about the search for a good dram. Heck, maybe even Amazon might fancy it? I mean, I’ve yet to meet anyone that has made it through the first season of the Three Drinkers unscathed.
This whole dialogue came about as the Whisky Exchange had sent an email out regarding their latest single cask pick. A heavily peated Loch Lomond had my immediate interest, as it should for you as well, given how good Inchmoan can truly be. Even Adam and I, agree on how good some of the releases are coming out of this outcast of a distillery that does things on its own terms. I knew the promise of a full maturation in a Tawny port cask would have Mark positively drooling at the prospect and thus the deal was done. Rather than explain what a Tawny cask can offer, I’ll just direct you to Berry Bros. and their effective synopsis.
Let’s leave the outline to the retailer: ‘this single malt Scotch whisky has been specially selected by The Whisky Shop, exclusively for our customers. Crafted at Loch Lomond distillery with heavily peated barley, it was distilled in March 2006 and matured in a single first fill Tawny port hogshead for almost 14 years. Bottled in February 2020 at a natural cask strength of 53.1% abv, just 315 bottles were filled.’
That was the original description and then within 24 hours, we received word that this wasn’t entirely correct. In effect, this whisky resided in an ex-bourbon cask for 12 years, before an 18-month finish in a Tawny port cask.
It’ll cost you a reasonable (on paper) £58.95 direct from The Whisky Shop, which is an attractive price and a commission-free link. Although it proved so popular it has since sold out, but as shops reopen you might get lucky instore. Funnily enough, the description was never updated to reflect the finish, if true.
Time to roll the cameras and see if we have a contender here. But before the main event, I’ll throw in a Brucie bonus with an Old Rhosdhu, a style of distillate produced at Loch Lomond from 1960 until the turn of the millennium. You don’t see much of it and the old distinguishes it from the modern-day use of the name, which is a completely different style of distillate. My thanks to Norbert for the opportunity to try this.
Mobsters of Mopeds Old Rhosdhu 1993 – review
Bottled at 26 years of age in July 2019 from a bourbon hogshead, this produced just 55 bottles at 50.3% strength.
Colour: worn gold.
On the nose: a gentle combination of peaches and subtle cinnamon greets us before some bashed mint leaf. Apple peelings, vanilla caramel and the thrust of dark spices with cardamon take us onwards. Zesty in parts with a twist of lime, an oaty-cereal aspect and memories of sugary pineapple cubes are revived. Unripe green mango and an apple strudel round off the voyage.
In the mouth: butterscotch and a chewy toffee aspect on the texture front. The presence of old wood spices, then cracked black pepper and almonds. The fruits return with those apples and mangoes to some degree but assisted by a layer of apricot a degree of tartness.
The Whisky Shop Loch Lomond 2006 #18/550-12 – review
Colour: Rosé .
On the nose: a big blast of peat followed by sweetness. Marzipan, rhubarb, dried cranberries and caramelised apples. Cloves, dried orange peel, almonds and tangerine towards the end. Some salt and a clean, sweet peat profile. Honey, peaches and earthy. Water reveals some fruity aspects and mostly frozen raspberries.
In the mouth: again, big on peat but an excellent balance. Orange, apricot, black pepper, almonds, nutmeg and all-spice. Water unsettles the balance bringing out more of the peat bog vibe and some bitterness.
A lovely pick for a shop exclusive. This is what store picks should be when done well and in conjunction with a distillery. It has a little bit of everything and when I opened my second bottle for an online tasting, it went down extremely well with the crowd. The Old Rhosdhu is great fun and unlikely I’ll see a bottle of that again, but great to try and a lovely drop.
We’re big fans of Inchmoan and while one or two miss the mark, the overall average is high. There’s no need to leave the mainland for peat and an exceptional blast at that.
Lead image grabbed from the Whisky Shop and thanks to our Patreons for their ongoing support and making this purchase possible.