Set up to be totally self-sufficient, much like a Japanese distillery, Loch Lomond is one of only two remaining “dual” whisky distilleries in Scotland distilling both grain and malt whisky in the same facility. While dual distilleries were common in the 19th century, consolidation and efficiencies during the 20th century meant that nowadays distilleries are either one or the other. Loch Lomond has bucked the trend and taken it a step further. Today the distillery features a set of traditional pot stills, three sets of Lomond stills (the last in Scotland) and three column stills. This enviable set-up allows Loch Lomond to not only make grain spirit, but also eight unique styles of malt spirit, from which they can make countless combinations of both single malt and blends. Most importantly, unlike anyone else, they don’t have to rely on other producers to supply whisky for their blends.
Loch Lomond Distillery produces three single malt styles, each under a separate brand. Inchmurrin (unpeated) is made exclusively from high strength spirit off the Lomond stills, whereas Loch Lomond (slightly peated) and Inchmoan (heavily peated) combine spirit from both traditional pot stills and Lomond stills.
A Lomond still is a hybrid style of still that features a traditional pot but is fitted with a rectifying head (like a column still). This allows the stillman to create various styles of whisky on the same still; everything from heavy, oily whiskies through to very light floral whiskies, all at various strengths and all from a single apparatus.
The Lomond still’s versatility is put to good use in the production of Inchmoan, a whisky that combines three of Loch Lomond’s distilling methods to create a peated whisky like no other. First up is spirit from the traditional swan neck pot stills. Similar to what most other distilleries use, these stills give that familiar phenolic, medicinal character to the spirit. Next, it’s time for Loch Lomond’s party piece to come into play, with the second style seeing the Lomond stills run with a wide cut point to give a collection point of about 65% and a real smoky spirit, and the third style uses a narrow cut point resulting in a high collection strength of about 85%, bringing out the softer spice character of the peat.
Each of the three styles are barrelled and matured separately. And when they’re ready, are combined to bring about a certain balance to bring down the big aggressive phenol notes, keep the smokiness and bring out the softer spice character of the peat. Once combined, it’s married for two months before bottling.
Which brings us to our whisky this month, the 2007 Inchmoan Whisky Club Members Edition. The Whisky Club worked with Loch Lomond’s Master Blender Michael Henry to create our ultimate Inchmoan. Hand-selected American Oak casks, all laid down in 2007, have been brought together in a marriage of sweet, peaty delights, and bottled in October 2019 at Michael’s preferred 48% ABV, non chill-filtered and natural in colour of course.
The result is a whisky that will have you picking your jaw up off the floor – a deliciously sweet peaty treat, bright and vibrant with creamy butterscotch, vanilla and home-made lemonade, combined with juicy smoked bacon and smouldering floral peat. Yum. Of course, once it’s gone, it’s gone, so be sure to hit the Double-Up button so you can keep a bottle in reserve. Your whisky shelf will thank you for it!