Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia Tasting

IMG-20160329-WA0012

Last night I attended a tasting for the Loch Lomond group’s wares at Rosner Wine in Kfar Saba. I was drawn to this tasting for a few reasons. Firstly, it was in the next town over and I had work the next day, but also because I love Springbank and was always curious about the other Campbeltown distillery. Glen Scotia is only now beginning to hit the shelves here and I’ve heard so many mixed reviews about it that I’d never wanted to risk buying a whole bottle just to try it.

I had no idea this shop was there and was delighted to discover a place with a fairly wide range of drinks, decent prices and a really nice little tasting room. Another huge plus was that there were a few dusties, something quite rare in Israel. The tasting was put on by Eurostandart, Loch Lomond Group’s importer and was hosted by their brand ambassador Donald MacLelland.

The evening was really well put on and Donald was absolutely wonderful. He was friendly and engaging and most importantly of all very honest. He let us know the ages of the non-age statement whiskies we drank, background behind the recent changes to the ranges (more on that shortly) and where the distillery plans on going in the near future. I can’t stress enough how much of a breath of fresh air this was. I’ve been to many tastings with company reps before where they can see they have an audience that’s familiar with whisky, and yet insist on keeping up with the marketing bullshit about how adding colour enhances the drinking experience, and not using an age statement allows the master distiller more freedom in crafting his expressions and so on ad nauseum. So I can’t stress how nice it was to hear some honest talk. I really respect a company that’s open with its customers like that.

I also learned quite a bit about Glen Scotia. It was bought out about 2 years ago by the Loch Lomond group. Before then emphasis was placed on quantity over quality, but sales were low so they accumulated quite a lot of stock, unfortunately due to the emphasis on quantity a lot of crappy casks were used. The range consisted of a wide range of age stated expressions, 10, 12, 16, 18 and 21 years old with a horribly gaudy assortment of coloured packaging. Since the change in ownership the core range has been cut to three expressions with more of an emphasis on quality, no more chill-filtration, better casks were brought in and hopefully once those get to work they’ll stop using colourant as well (that’s the plan according to Donald).

And now let’s try some whisky:

Loch Lomond Reserve (Blend)

Aged 3 years (for lack of age statement), 40% ABV

Nose: New make. Light vanilla. Plastic. Green banana. Hint of butterscotch. Bit of leather turns up.

Palate:  Peanut brittle. Copper. Vanilla. Leather. Seville oranges.

Finish: Bitter wood. Bitter citrus. Bitter plastic. Just plain bitter

Rating: Don’t try this

Global VFM: 3/5

Local VFM: 3/5

Not a bad low-end blend. Had some nice rich notes, but felt excessively young and a bit too much grain coming through. This was about 30% malt.


 

Loch Lomond Original (Single Malt)

Aged 3 years (for lack of age statement), 40% ABV

Actual age is apparently around 5-6 years

Nose: Cereals, honey. Toasted oats. Tropical fruit
Dried apricots. Butterscotch. Canned pineapple. Bit of salt. Leather. Burned fruit.

Palate: Light. Light wood. Gooseberries. Stewed fruit. Salt. Honey. Macadamias

Finish: Short medium. Honey, grains. Macadamia.

Rating: Don’t try this

Global VFM: 3/5

Local VFM: 2/5

This is better than their blends. But it’s not as good as some other single malts as the same price point. It did still have some complexity to it, maybe with some age that could come through a little more.


 

Glen Scotia Double Cask

Aged 3 years (for lack of age statement), 46% ABV, Matured in american oak and finished in first fill bourbon and PX casks. Non-chill filtered.

A word on this one from what Donald told us. It’s around 6 years old, they were put into some very very tired casks before Loch Lomond purchased the distillery so to liven it up a bit they underwent this double finish in some new casks.

Nose: Rich wood. Semi sweet sherry (like an Amoroso). Camphor. Fennel. Glue. Rosewater. Stewed fruits. Slight earthiness. Rich leather. Creme brulee. English fudge. Maple syrup

Palate: Candy Apple. Varnished wood. Floor polish. Sandalwood. Mud. Maple syrup. Dried apricots. A little woodspice.

Finish: Medium . Leather. Wood. Earth. Bit of sherry funk. Brine and woodspice linger on the palate a little

Rating: Try this

Global VFM: 4/5

Local VFM: 3/5

This was a really solid base expression. There were a lot of rich woody notes one would expect to find in a well-aged whisky and they’re a byproduct of some excellent casking and vatting. The sherry and the bourbon are quite subtle and at just the right ratio to make a rich taste profile.


 

Glen Scotia 15 Year Old

Aged 15 years, 46% ABV, Matured in American Oak (and some refill Oloroso) Non-chill filtered.

Nose:  Rich nutty wood. Pine tar oil. Camphor. Leather. Stewed fruit, hint of sherry funk. Sea salt. Green Apple. Orange peel. Light woodspice.

Palate:  Heavy vanilla cream. Leather. Sulphury sherry. More pronounced spices now, ginger, pumpkin spice. Brine. Sour apples,maybe even good cider. Oolong tea.

Finish: Medium long. Bitter wood. Leather. Light sherry nuttiness. Vanilla.

Rating: Try before you buy

Global VFM: 3/5

Local VFM: 3/5

This was my favourite of the night. There’s this particualr thick leathery note I pick up in a whisky with just the right amount of light peat and subtle sherry influence and this had it. The nose was somewhat refined but on the palate it was a real heavy hitter. Wonderfully complex and full.


 

Glen Scotia Victoriana

Aged 3 years (for lack of age statement). 51.5% ABV. Matured in charred oak casks. Non-chill filtered.

There might have been some more information on this one but I was too busy huffing the last fumes of the 15yo to pay attention.

Nose: Raspberry sherbet. Nutty sherry. Bit of creme brulee. Stewed peaches. Unsmoked
Virginia tobacco

Palate: Old leather boots. Overripe banana. Plum wine. Seville oranges. Light tobacco ash

Finish: Medium long. Camphor. Fennel. Citrus. Stewed fruit.

Rating: Try this

Global VFM: 2/5

Local VFM: 2/5

I found this one to be a bit less complex and exciting than the 15. It was still a nice whisky, and the higher ABV gave it some extra oomph but it felt like it needed something extra.


 

A lovely time all in all. Was glad to get to know Glen Scotia (and Loch Lomond too) and very excited with the direction that the distillery is taking. Will be interesting to see what happens when they’ve built up some good quality stocks.

Advertisements

One thought on “Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia Tasting

  1. Pingback: Douglas Laing Regional Malts Tasting – Stuff I Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s