Having a chance to sample a whisky from a closed Lowland distillery is a rare treat and so I’m grateful for the opportunity to taste the ‘2015 Private Cellar Edition’ of Littlemill, courtesy of Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire and the Loch Lomond Group.

Littlemill Distillery was founded in Bowling on the Clyde Waterfront in 1772 however like many other distilleries at the time, it was mothballed in 1994 but then completed destroyed by fire in 2004.

This Private Cellar Edition has been bottled at 25 years old and is marriage of 10 casks from 1989 and 1990 which have been finished in first fill Oloroso casks. The pictures of the bottle and presentation look fantastic and although I don’t have details of the retail price, I fully expect it will be one for those with deep pockets.

Tasting notes below:

Colour

Rich amber.

Nose

The sherry finishing is clear from the nose with a burst of rich fruit, but given a little time it opens up the original cask flavour start to appear.

I detected honey with slightly citrus / grassy notes and a slight perfume like subtle parma violet.

Adding water and letting it settle reveals a lovely malty vanilla sweetness and hints of desiccated coconut.

Taste

Neat, it’s got a bit of alcohol kick due to the 50.4% strength, but the mouthfeel is quite light.

Initially there is much more defined sherry fruit and light smoke with tobacco and leather. Dark chocolate / coffee and some bitter orange appears and remains into the fairly long finish.

Adding water increases the smoke and bitter notes, though also brings out tropical fruits such as papaya. I was hoping for the vanilla / malt in the diluted palette but couldn’t get it, however the finish is still very good.

Overall

I’ve never tasted Littlemill before, hence it’s impossible for me to say how representative it is of the distillery style. In isolation however this is a very good whisky, though I’m not blown away by it.

I suspect Oloroso cask finishing wouldn’t have formed part of the original production process and although it’s quite pleasant I felt the resulting whisky lacks integration (if that’s the right word). It feels like there are two set of flavours in the glass, one from the original casks and the other from the finishing casks, as opposed to tasting like a single unit. Don’t get me wrong; all of the flavours are very good but just something I noted.

Given the demand for rare old whiskies like this, I’m sure it will sell like hot cakes and as I said at the start, I’m very grateful to be given a chance to try it.

Thanks again to Steve Rush and Loch Lomond Group for the sample.

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