Distiller: Loch Lomond. Region: Highlands. ABV: 40%. No age statement. Price: $18.
I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for Loch Lomond–the lake itself–ever since Mrs. McDram and I spent a romantic weekend on it back in 2008. I was dimly aware at the time that there was a Loch Lomond distillery nearby, but I neither visited it nor saw much evidence of it on the shelves.
Fast forward to 2014, when a private equity group called Exponent swooped in and bought the on-again-off-again distillery–along with Campbeltown’s Glen Scotia distillery–and began a revamp of the brand. The Loch Lomond Reserve blended whisky is one of the results.
Loch Lomond is rare among Scottish distilleries in having a wide range of stills to work with in-house: traditional copper pot stills, pot stills with rectifying columns, Coffey stills for making grain whisky, and the rare Lomond still, which is also in use at Scapa and Bruichladdich. If you can dream it up, Loch Lomond can make it. (And they’ll have to make a little more than usual after spilling $1.2 million worth of whisky this summer.)
That makes this base blended whisky, the Loch Lomond Reserve, a good place to start. I’ll come right out and say it: this $18 whisky is better than it has any right to be. I enjoyed it more than blended scotch whiskies that cost 2-3 times as much.
It’s on the lighter side at 40%, but the nose lets you know there’s plenty of substance to work with: vanilla, peach, apple, candied grapefruit, and peanut brittle.
The palate is lemony and creamy, nicely balanced, with no bite. Nice oak vanillins. Again, on the lighter side, but never watery. A touch of chicken with orange glaze comes late–then the finish brings a delicate smokiness. Then lemon pepper and ground ginger.
I’ve found that the better blends are great for accompanying food–far better than most single malts, to my taste. The Loch Lomond Reserve fits this bill nicely. It may fall a bit short of the standard of the excellent Usquaebach blended whiskies, but it also costs less than half of what they do.
A great before dinner dram, during dinner dram, or surprise hit at a party. Well done, Loch Lomond! – BO
The Loch Lomond Group graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.