May 2018 Whisky of the Month:
This whisky is exceptional in every sense. Aside from being the last remaining Scotch brand made exclusively on Lomond stills, it’s been finished in first fill Manzanilla casks, a variety of sherry rarely used in whisky. The result is deliciously fruity and complex, as you’ll soon discover for yourself when opening May’s malt: 2009 Inchmurrin Manzanilla Finish Single Cask Scotch Whisky Created Exclusively for the Club.
Initially barrelled in March 2009, it was recasked in November 2016 into a set of first-fill Manzanilla sherry casks and then bottled for us in January of this year – just in time to hit the high seas for arrival to your doorstep as our Club Malt this May.
The nose is intense and almost creamy with dried fruits, raisins and vanilla, even a touch of custard, while the palate is robust and sweet with green apples, raisins and candied orange peel followed by salted caramel. The finish is initially sweet with melted brown sugar and hazelnuts, before the trademark dry saltiness from the Manzanilla comes through towards the end. The finish lingers long, almost with the sensation of popping candy. This is an exceptional Scotch, and exceptionally moreish. Non-chill filtered and natural colour, just the way we like it.
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Country of Origin:
Loch Lomond is one of Scotland’s most famous and beautiful landmarks and delineates the boundary between the Lowlands and Highlands. The area’s been at the heart of the whisky industry for centuries and at least nine distilleries around the Loch have come and gone over the years, leaving Loch Lomond Distillery to carry the flag into the 21st century… and what a stellar job it’s doing!
The distillery was established in 1963 by one of the great innovators of the industry, an American called Duncan Thomas, whose leftfield thinking laid the foundation for Loch Lomond to become the most flexible and innovative distillery in Scotland.
Inspired by the 1960s whisky boom, Thomas established Loch Lomond in partnership with Chicago-based Barton Brands and set about producing malt whisky on state-of-the-art long neck pot stills, or Lomond stills, named after the Lomond brand of whisky made on a similar still at nearby Inverleven Distillery (more on these stills soon). Whisky was booming so Barton bought him out in 1971, but sold the distillery Inver House (Old Pulteney, Balblair, anCnoc) in 1985 when things slowed down again. They, in turn, flipped it to Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Ltd in 1986 and the rest, as they say, is history.
In purchasing Loch Lomond, Glen Catrine had the means to heavily exploit the private label and bulk whisky market; an unglamorous but highly lucrative business that no-one else was doing quite as well as they were. Over the next three decades they rapidly built up the distillery’s infrastructure to flexibly produce a wide variety of whisky styles for their customers including traditional peated and unpeated single malt, peated and unpeated single malt from Lomond stills (our whisky this month), single grain and blended whisky. In addition to producing for the private and bulk market, the company also bottled and marketed whisky under their own labels including Loch Lomond, Inchmurrin, Inchmoan, Glengarry, Clansman and High Commissioner, but while their blends did very well, the malts never really got the attention they deserved and aside from a small annual output of original bottlings, Loch Lomond’s single malts were mainly the preserve of independent bottlers.
We’re currently experiencing a whisky boom like no other and in 2014 the distillery was acquired by a private team of industry heavyweights including former Diageo CFOs Nick Rose and Richard Miles, along with Colin Matthews, who led Imperial Tobacco’s businesses in Africa, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. The new guys mean business and since taking over, have implemented a major overhaul of the distillery’s range including rebranding and repackaging, and most importantly for whisky lovers around the world, a very strong focus on malt whisky. Loch Lomond’s superb single malts are finally getting their turn in the sun!
About Inchmurrin Single Malt Whisky:
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 completely 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
A Lomond still, as you’re no doubt wondering, 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.
Loch Lomond Distillery produces four single malt styles, each under a separate brand. Loch Lomond (slightly peated) and Inchmoan (heavily peated) combine spirit from both traditional pot stills and Lomond stills, while Inchmurrin (unpeated) is made exclusively from high strength spirit off the Lomond stills. It is the last and only remaining example of this style of Scotch whisky.
Which brings us to our whisky this month, the 2009 Inchmurrin Manzanilla Finish Single Cask Single Malt for The Whisky Club.
Truly unique in every sense; not only is it the last remaining Scotch brand made exclusively on Lomond stills, it’s also been finished in first fill Manzanilla casks, a style of sherry rarely used in whisky. The result, of course, is just delicious as you’ll soon discover for yourself upon opening this month’s malt. But first a bit more on Manzanilla to fully appreciate it…
Manzanilla is a young, pale, dry, Fino style sherry from the coastal region of south-west Spain and maturation is concentrated around the harbour town of Sanlucar de Barrameda. Its seaside location off the Atlantic Ocean gives Manzanilla sherry a salty, fresh marine flavour which comes through beautifully in the whisky. It adds a fantastic layer of hazelnut, apples and caramel to the typical raisin and sultana notes expected from a sherry cask, while also bringing a beautiful tangy, salty dryness that you don’t get with other types of sherry casks. Quite simply, this is a beautiful malt that very few whisky lovers around the world have had the pleasure of savouring and it deserves a special spot on your shelf!
Initially filled into cask on the 20 March 2009, it was recasked into first-fill Manzanilla sherry butts in November 2016 before being bottled for us in January 2018, non-chill filtered and natural colour, just the way we like it!
$110 per bottle + $15 postage
Age on release:
8 years and 10 months
Matured in refill casks for seven years followed by a second 15 month maturation in first-fill Manzanilla sherry butts.
Distillery quick facts
Place of origin: Lomond Estate, Alexandria, Scotland G83 0TL, United Kingdom
Water source: 9 boreholes on site
Washbacks: 21 stainless steel (10 x 25,000 litres and 11 x 50,000 litres)
Number of stills: 3 sets of Lomond stills (wash and spirit), 1 set traditional pot stills (wash and spirit) and 3 sets of column stills (analyser and rectifier)
Capacity: 23,000,000 litres per annum of grain whisky and 2,000,000 litres per annum of malt whisky
Nose: Intense and almost creamy with dried fruits, raisins and vanilla. Even a touch of custard.
Palate: Soft and sweet with green apple, candied orange peel and more raisins followed by salted caramel.
Finish: Initially sweet with melted brown sugar and hazelnuts before the trademark Manzanilla dry saltiness comes through towards the end. Quite long and lingering, almost with the sensation of popping candy. Moreish.
Brie, don’t look any further. Grab a massive slab.