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Shopping for Loch Lomond Three Ways

In my previous review of Loch Lomond, I focused on the industrial use of water in whisky distilling. Ultimately in the weeks between publishing it, and now, we’ve had quite a wet Scottish summer and my concerns this year have not come to pass. Plenty of the raw material for whisky falling from the sky.

The other great news this summer is that Loch Lomond released a similarly long fermentation 10 year old; not a single cask, like the previous review, but a more available small batch of 500 bottles released under the distillery exclusive category, launched with two releases in 2022. This release is the third and comprises, I assume, of two casks of extra-long fermentation wash left for a full three weeks then passed through the straight necked pot stills before aging in first fill bourbon wood.

The extra long fermentation and distillation combine to create the most fruity spirit possible. It’s worthy of note that two types of Inchmurrin spirit are made on the straight necked pot still, one cut at very high strength and a second, low strength cut, which I assume goes deeper into the tails of each run. Master Distiller Michael Henry has chosen to highlight that this release is the second lower strength release, which is not usually detailed with Inchmurrin releases.

When I spotted this release at the beginning of this season, I immediately predicted it would be the release of the summer that would get people talking; by and large, that has proven correct. Yet, at the time of going to press, this has not sold out. This reflects the slow growth of the brand on the psyche of established single malt drinkers. Reviewers on the other hand are plastering review sites such as malt with various expressions all, on the whole, scoring well.

The distillery exclusive is only available online; there is no visitor centre, and tours around are strictly limited to invitation. The distillery exclusive represents a direct sale from Loch Lomond Group themselves straight to the public. These types of exclusives are common with distilleries with visitor centres and often, since COVID, these exclusive offers can increasingly be found online. Benromach often has a couple of interesting casks available directly via the web; Old Pulteney, too, has one online or at the visitor centre.

It’s a welcome approach to reach keen fans and the interface is slick, keeping costs down got this release to me for £70 with free postage and packaging. The tube arrives nicely packaged with some Loch Lomond tissue paper wrap. I was so impressed I purchased a further bottle as a gift for some whisky friends and bought a second bottle for myself.

Loch Lomond Distillery Edition 3 “Extra-Long Fermentation” – Review

One of 500 bottles. Unpeated, Streight Neck Still, Low Collection Strength. 57.2% ABV. £70.

Colour: Pecorino wine.

On the nose: Initially quite closed; confectioners’ sugar, candied lemon peel, unripe pineapple and sherbet. With a little time, dusty vanilla appears with unripe pear and dried apricot. Water does little for the nose.

In the mouth: A big burst of fizzy juicy fruit, limoncello, sweet orange fruit smoothie, some retro-nasal over ripe fruits giving an ester note. The texture is light and thin, which adds to the juicy nature of the mouthfeel. The fruit leans to the unripe but are perfumed and aromatic which really lingers on the finish which goes from orchard fruits all the way to tropical notes of pineapple and passion fruit. Whilst very sweet it also has a tartness to it.

Conclusions:

Fantastic for my palate; a lot of zing and fruitiness for such young whisky. Some Speyside styles age into deep tropical fruits, but this has it from the outset. In doing my research, there are a healthy number of expressions released with different wine yeasts, and long fermentations that have been released over the last few years, all with solid reviews. I will certainly be aiming to acquire more of this style in the future.

The one observation I have is how light the spirit is; this may be due to being exclusively “low collection strength,” whereas Inchmurrin spirit can be low and high from the straight necked still. When I blended this release with a heavier weight spirit the outcome was most delicious. I applaud the transparency in this release and crave more and more from Loch Lomond going forward.

Score: 9/10

The second bottle in this review I picked up at Stansted Airport. It’s something of a pleasant surprise, because I had become convinced that airport travel retail staff were actively trying not to sell me whisky. You know how this goes; “Where are you travelling today?” If you are not international, they immediately turn away. This is in part due to Brexit changes and the tactical choice not to offer a lot to UK travellers.

But, it’s the approach of the sales people that frustrates me because I am most likely to travel internationally, however I often have more time for actual browsing on domestic flights, so a non-sale today could be a quick sale next week.

Equally, when I ask what’s interesting within the travel retail exclusives, I usually get directed to high volume blends, sales of which are clearly incentivised more than single malt. Stansted started with the usual story, “please try Chivas, it’s great that you are open minded and not focused on single malt,” but as we passed the shelves of single malt a Loch Lomond stood out.
I asked the first server for some information on the Loch Lomond, “we’ll it’s an 18 year old, but have you tried Chivas 18, it’s so smooth.”

I decided to settle the impatient family at a table in a restaurant and try again. On returning I found a new member of staff who offered a number of samples of travel retail exclusives, but unfortunately no samples available of the Loch Lomond I had my eye on.
My single-minded focus on their Inchmurrin spirit saw me purchase it blind anyway. My faith in travel retail had been partially restored by a salesperson who seemed to care about my purchase. The upside being one litre of American oak aged fruit spirit for £84 also made this an easy purchase.

Loch Lomond Inchmurrin 18 Year Old – Review

Travel retail exclusive matured in first fill bourbon, refill bourbon and recharred casks. 46% ABV. £84.

Colour: Walnut furniture.

On the nose: Furniture polish, dried apricot, toasted oak, stewed apple and a little toffee. Sour gummy candies, lemon posset, a hint of pickled walnut.

In the mouth: Initially a little biscuit-y, but falling away to allow layers of fruity notes, peach yoghurt, fruit and nut chocolate, ripe pear, apricot, pineapple, honeydew melon, and wood spices entwined with the characterful aromatic fruit on the finish. Water brings more fruit and eases the wood spice.

Conclusions:

Decent, great price, heavy age statement, nicely fruity, but the recharred casks seem to have muted the spirit a little, along with the lower abv it does struggle to stand up to the more singular bottles reviewed here. It’s still great.

Score: 7/10

My final shopping experience worthy of note is a trip to the exclusive Harrods store. Harrods is a luxury department store located in London, founded in 1834 when Charles Henry Harrod opened a small shop over in East London. Originally a grocery store, it quickly gained popularity due to its high-quality products and reputation for customer service.

The store’s reputation continued to grow and, in 1883, it was granted a Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria, officially recognizing it as a supplier to the royal household. This prestigious status further elevated Harrods’ standing and attracted even more affluent customers.

In 1959, Harrods’ was purchased by the House of Fraser, a move that fueled further growth and modernization of the store. In 1985, the Al-Fayed family acquired Harrods and embarked on a series of ambitious changes. They expanded the store even more, introduced new luxury boutiques, and implemented innovative marketing strategies to attract international shoppers.

Today, Harrods is a symbol of luxury, elegance, and opulence, welcoming millions of visitors from all over the world each year. It boasts over 300 departments, offering everything from haute couture and jewelry to gourmet food and home furnishings with its rich history and commitment to exceptional service.

All well, except it doesn’t. Beyond being charged £21 for 18 (admittedly, deliciously ripe) cherries, we also took a visit to the spirits section. A modest selection of whiskies, mostly familiar, and not too ostentatious. There was an extensive sale on at the time which caught my eye, but in the end, it was a Loch Lomond single cask Harrods Excusive that caught my eye.
I was most frustrated by the sales assistant, who could not tell me anything about the release. I mean, he read the back label and very brief tasting notes, and read from the front label that the spirit was unpeated. But he could not tell me the cask type. I requested further details and even left my contact details so that Harrods – committed to exceptional service – could follow up.

Sadly, to date I am still waiting for this follow up. Fortunately, Loch Lomond customer services confirmation buy return of email that this was Inchmurrin spirit filled into a single first fill Manzanilla cask. The sherry addition was a welcome unexpected outcome, as I much prefer Manzanilla to the heavier Oloroso or Pedro Ximénez.

I certainly get better service at my local whisky shop and can be certain that any exclusive casks released are of excellent quality and all the staff will be able to articulate the nuances of the cask selection. However, the overall reputation retained by Harrods is such that this single cask is quite a nice souvenir of our trip to London all the same.

Loch Lomond 18 Year old Single cask for Harrod’s Department Store – Review

Inchmurrin spirit in a first fill Manzanilla butt. 2004 to 2023. 53.9% ABV. £110.

Colour: Tarnished copper.

On the nose: Roasted walnuts, pralines, toffee, sultanas and a slightly sharp note of pickled walnut.

In the mouth: Toffee pralines, caramelised pineapple, milk chocolate, brûlée tops, lashings of fragrant aromatic fruit but all enveloped in a thick sherry note. Water knocks back the sherry and brings forward the effervescent fruits. The finish is characteristically fruity Inchummrin spirit fighting through the good quality sherry cask influence.

Conclusions:

Well, the Manzanilla works great seasoning the fruit and complimenting the spirit, a triumph of a sherry cask, and rare balance and poise, a sherry bomb with soul. And such a fair price and smart presentation of the bottle too.

Score: 9/10

Overall, these three shopping experiences reflect the nature of modern whisky buying. In truth, it’s only the online distillery exclusive that I would attribute five star service to (due to it’s efficiency); the others I can live without.

Understanding the naming of spirits is particularly important for anyone looking to get seriously engaged with Loch Lomond, as the distillery was designed to be a standalone site for producing any manner of blended whisky at a time. Previously, blenders had to source all of the components from different distilleries and different companies. Duncan Thomas, who founded the distillery in 1965, had a different view of a self-sufficient facility. As such, there are many different spirit types produce there. I previously highlighted the differences when reviewing a well-aged Inchmoan, their peated expression. Loch Lomond fans will probably pay more attention now to the two Inchmurrin spirit styles, and I look forward to these appearing on more releases.

CategoriesSingle Malt
Graham

Graham is at the consumer end of the whisky world; constantly seeking out a bargains and generally very cautious with his limited budget. An occasional visitor to distilleries and a member of the odd whisky club. He does not collect whiskies but has a few nice ones put away for some future special occasion. He enjoys discussions with the wider whisky community and may resemble the ‘average’ Malt reader.

  1. Scott says:

    Graham, thanks for that smashing review of the distillery edition 3, I wasn’t missing out on that, so purchased based on your review, not for the 1st time!. Online interface really good as well and easy to buy, was it you who left the love poem on the review tab!!
    I’m very happy for LL to fly under the radar whilst SB and Ardnamurchan get all the attention. Really, you could fill your whisky cabinet just from them, with all the peated, non peated, age ranges, single grain editions, and that’s before we even get to the Indies, Inchfad and my favourite, Croftengea. Keep the LL reviews coming, cheers.

    1. Graham says:

      Hello Scott,

      Consistently strong output in their own name. Do come back and let us know how you get on with it. Even if you disagree with my views.

      I may have left the poem, perhaps after couple too many drams.

      Now you’ve made this awkward 🙂

      All the best Scott.

  2. John says:

    Graham, I love how Loch Lomond is quietly advocating the importance of fermentation. From using different yeasts to making them last longer. Hopefully more distilleries follow them so there will be more variety and quality in Scotch.

    1. Graham says:

      Hello John,

      This is a great perspective, and I do agree. With so many new and revived distilleries going forward a greater breadth and depth of choice will be important for the whole industry.

      All the best

  3. Craig says:

    Please stop raising the profile of Loch lomond and the quality of their releases in the last few years. Their variety of styles including the ashy croftengeas are excellent compared to the battles you face for SB and others. I have love for lomond but can you stop hyping it please?

    1. Graham says:

      Hello Craig,

      I am sorry, good value is so rare these days and you are right to protect it. However at Malt we do try to help our readers find those gems, or else they’d all be drinking Chivas 18.

      1. Mark says:

        Bought a bottle of distillery edition 3 on the strength of your review. Its waiting for me at home when I return from work on Wednesday and I can’t wait.

  4. Ravi says:

    I learnt about Loch Lomond here on Malt. Not much of a chance to get it here in India. Managed to get a friend to source one from the airport duty free. the Inchmurrin 12. Simply wow! Now waiting for another cousin to get me the Inchmoan 12 🙂

    I repeat what Craig says – stop hyping this on the internet please 🙂 I will happily subscribe to a Malt Loch Lomond restricted circulation newsletter via email

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