...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Where's the Love? Inchmurrin 15 year old 1996 Signatory

All right.  I was just teasing you with Mannochmore and Tullibardine.  It's time to strap on a pair of waders in order to stagger through Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond does not produce award-winning single malts.  They rarely release something that gets any positive attention.  I've seen reviewers give the distillery some leeway, almost as if Loch Lomond is handicapped, due to its unique still setup.  But Loch Lomond still brings millions of liters of whisky to the market annually so there's no need to apologize for the whisky nor apologize for a scathing review.

But what about those stills?  They really are the most interesting aspect of the distillery.  I had to read and compare several sources in order to get what I think is an accurate list of stills, ultimately going with Charlie MacLean's word (via Whiskypedia) because he's a movie star.  Loch Lomond has two pairs of pot stills, both with rectifying heads which allow them to create several varieties of new make.  There are also two more pot still pairs without rectifying heads.  There's a Coffey still that's utilized to make a single malt, which the SWA doesn't care for.  And finally there's a distillery within the distillery that has another Coffey still which is utilized for grain whisky.  Thus we get such gems as Inchmurrin, Inchmoan, Inchfad, Croftengea, Craiglodge, Rosdhu, Glen Douglas, GlenShiel, and Loch Lomond all from one place.

The most frequently bottled of the malt types is Inchmurrin.  And the independent bottler with the most (released) casks of Inchmurrin is Signatory.  So, here today is a Signatory-bottled Inchmurrin.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't have preconceptions going into the two tastings this week.  I've previously had one palatable Siggy Inchmurrin.  But on the flip side there was the bizarre peated Loch Lomond and the utterly disgusting Inchmoan I drank last year.  At least these tastings shouldn't be boring...

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Brand: Inchmurrin
Owner: Loch Lomond Distillery Company
Independent Bottler: Signatory
Region: Highlands (Western)
Type: Single Malt
Age: 15 years (November 18, 1996 to May 23, 2012)
Maturation: Refill butt
Cask number28
Limited bottling: 599
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
(Sample purchased from Master of Malt by Tetris and donated to D4P. Thank you!)

Its color is a yellowed amber.  Hot cereal/porridge jumps out first in the nose, followed by hints of pencil graphite, cinnamon, nectarines, and pineapple.  It feels very new make-ish, but then a coconut creme thing pops up every now and then.  But the largest consistent note that I find is that of margarine on Saltines.  Kristen found notes of baked things and florals, but also some chemicals when she sniffed closer.  That chemical note reads more like garbage to my nose.  Brief downwind from garbage, but still garbage.  The palate has the hot cereal character, but also a lot of sweetness and a bracing bitterness.  There are also notes of band aids, basil, creamy nutty marzipan, and cardboard box.  It all gets much sweeter with time.  The finish is tangier than the rest.  It's sweet, grainy, and brief.

WITH WATER (a little below 40%abv)
The nose is almost of a grain whisky: caramel, mild grains, coconut, hay, and white fruit.  The palate is sweeter, smokier, and something vaguely chemical.  The finish is sweet and mild.

This must have been a 37th-fill butt.  Most of the time the whisky feels like it's barely legal, which isn't necessarily bad, especially since this bottle apparently sold for €32 two years ago.  If it could ditch the rotten and chemical notes then it would be a decent whisky.  Though brief those notes may be, they do prove to be a turn off to me, and I'm someone who loves weird whisky.

If you have a bottle of this -- and somehow they sold through most or all of these 599 bottles -- then perhaps airing it out a bit will help rid the whisky of its problems.  If that does work, then I can recommend this whisky to Tobermory fans and those who like naked whiskies.  If it doesn't work, I think it's because those rougher elements may be part of Loch Lomond's malt character.  So, like with most Loch Lomond whiskies, approach cautiously.

Availability - Perhaps at some specialty retailers on the European continent?
Pricing - probably in the $50-$60 range
Rating - 74


  1. Croftnega and Inchmoan? You've got to be making up these names! Let me try too: Cairnspun, Daldullip, Upkilten.

    Turns up you were pretty close: Inchmoan exists, defying all odds; and Croftnega was pretty close - Croftengea seems to be the preferred spelling.

    1. You mean you've never had Daldullip Cu Bocan Tushkar Cruach-Mhòna?

      Croftenasdlkfjaoweirupwourkj oopsdated.

    2. Go home Michael, you're drunk