Loch Lomond was an old distillery that closed soon after it began, only to be “reopened” in the 1960s. Which means it’s still a baby by Scotch standards. They’re fairly unheard of in the mainstream, don’t have much marketing clout and they don’t feature an endless string of accolades from biased and questionable whisky associations.
But interestingly, Loch Lomond is one of the few Scotch distilleries that feature both column and pot stills producing both single malt and single grain whiskies. Which means if they mixed them together you’d have one of the very few “single blends” out there, in this case taking the form of their Reserve and Signature blended whiskies.
Loch Lomond Original is their entry-level single malt, designed to compete against the ‘Fiddichs/’Livets/‘Morangies/‘Grants/‘Morays of the world. Unfortunately (surprisingly) they haven’t taken the “small distillery” approach of winning hearts and minds with a commitment to transparency – instead doubling down on NAS, chill filtration, colourant and obscured cask information. Oh well! Here goes:
Initially, a fairly pleasant nose… then a sharp background acidity that screams “young whisky, blending issues”. I gave it 20 minutes or so in the glass and a fair amount of the sharpness faded away, revealing lots of distinct (yet competing) aromas: Butter, golden syrup. A “breadiness” I associate with the likes of Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve. Undercooked pastry. A suggestion of potent casks – fresh oak, perhaps sherry influence (?). Some marshmallow, apples. No smoke whatsoever, despite the label. Old socks.
Malt and cornflakes. In particular, a bowl of cornflakes – there’s a milky quality that isn’t floating my boat, and an “artificial” sugary-sweetness. First impressions not particularly positive. A few sips in and I started to warm to it, however – a fresh, grassy herbalness, some faint spice right at the back, a little salt and pepper. But an overall feeling of “flavour enhancement”, like a layer of sugar getting between me and a really competent malt – the same sense of unease I get from the Lasanta. Hmmm…
Very, very wooded – bordering on unpleasant. Bitter, malty and persistent.
Down she goes! The sugar stays behind, the interesting malty spice disappears, and the oak piledrives your tastebuds into submission. It’s like drinking sawdust. Don’t do it!
I actually really struggled with the Loch Lomond Original – one sip, really enjoying it, the next wondering what all the fuss was about. Overall, it’s a competent, but strangely difficult whisky to get to grips with. It’s… meh.
As much as I’d love to recommend this, there are cheaper, similarly styled whiskies that blow this out the water. Look no further than Glenmorangie 10 for a quality malt all-rounder, Glenfiddich or Glenlivet 12 for a dependable fruity fix or – if you need that promised hint of peat – the exceptional Three Ships 5.