Sometimes fun things happen. Like three weeks ago. Back then I was reminded by email that my SMWS membership will cease in March. Which was expected by me as well as the fact, that I was offered a “Mystery Bottle Renewal” where you pay a little bit more than for the normal elongation of your membership and get a bottle of good SMWS Whisky. Of course, you don’t know which one (hence the “Mystery”) till it actually arrives. Of course, I opted for the Mystery Bottle…

Two weeks ago, right in the middle of my semester finals, Austria’s finest Whisky store – Potstill – hosted a Whisky tasting with Donald MacLellan from the Loch Lomond Group. After careful consideration, I decided to attend this tasting. We didn’t get any Loch Lomond, but Inchmoan, Inchmurrin and Glen Scotia instead (which was totally fine!). The 7 Whiskys tasted that evening will now be presented!

We started out with the 12yo Inchmurrin (WB 124628), which was velvet and fresh but also a little bit spicy combined with some Toffee. We then proceeded to the 18yo (WB 72658). This dram was sweeter (but kind of dark chocolate sweet) and meaty. I think I even tasted some hints of cheese. Donald explained to us, that Loch Lomond uses four different stills to get like 25 (if I remember correctly) different New Makes. They use – besides the different stills – various cutting points at their distillation as well as peated (also: different peat!) and unpeated malt. Their main focus was on – you guessed it – producing Whisky for the blending industry. But nowadays the also produce fine Single Malt Whisky.

After having completed the two unpeated Whiskys from Inchmurrin, we got some peated stuff. First was the 12yo Inchmoan (WB 97304), peated (as every Inchmoan) to 50ppm. I think my nose got accommodated to peat because there was not much. There was some, but also some sweet- and spiciness and Gingerbeer. The next dram was an n.a.s. Whisky namely the Inchmoan 1992 (WB 97305). This batch of the 1992 was, in fact, 25yo old, which led me to expect not much peat left. There was some spice, also some highland ginger, but no peat. All combined with some tropical fruits in the nose and some malty taste on the palate. A very fine dram!

We then switched to the other distillery owned by the Loch Lomond Group, Glen Scotia. First one to taste was the Double Cask (WB 111866) which was finished in PX Sherry Casks for 6 weeks. Despite the short time, you can clearly taste the influence the Sherry Cask had on that Whisky. Besides the typical notes, there are also some medicinal note as well as some salt. This n.a.s. Whisky (which was 5yo) followed the 18yo Glen Scotia (WB 99817). This one was finished also in Sherry Cask, but this time in Oloroso Casks. In this one, the influence of the Sherry Casks is much less pronounced. I got primarily vanilla and spices but also Toffee.

The last Whisky of the evening was – again – an n.a.s. Whisky, the Glen Scotia Victoriana Batch 001 (WB 120088). This Whisky, made from 13 to 19 year old Whiskys, was bottled at cask strength, which was 54,8% abv. I had (again) some medicinal notes as well as pepper, grapes and Toffee in the nose. On the palate, I found him quite strong with Toffee, some highland ginger and pepper. Again, a quite nice dram.

I have to say that there were times, I wasn’t very fond of n.a.s. Whiskys. Simply because I imagined the distilleries do that, to mask the real age of their Whiskys. And I’d like – no I’d LOVE – to know the age of a Whisky. Probably just because I’m a scientist and I like to know stuff. But truth to be told, I really don’t care (anymore?) how old a Whisky is. There are a lot of good (and young) Whiskys out there and there are a lot of not so good (and old) Whiskys out there.

You might ask yourself if I’m not interested in the age of a Whisky anymore, why do I tell you the age of the n.a.s. ones? Just because some distilleries are transparent about their products. If you ask – sometimes even without asking – they will tell you the age (or the age rage) of their Whisky. And that’s something great – IMHO. Age really doesn’t matter regarding the taste of a Whisky, but it is a nice piece of information to have.

After you read through my tasting notes I’ll now finish the story of the Mystery Bottle. It arrived the day after the tasting and guess what bottle it was: 112.33! Any Society Member will know (and if not they can – as anyone – google it) that it is a Croftengea. One of the many expressions the Loch Lomond distillery can produce. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not… (Tasting notes will follow).

Till the next time, all the best and