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Monday, May 13, 2019

Mathilda Malt: Littlemill 22 year old 1990 Berry Brothers & Rudd (round 3)

In honor of Mathilda's 5th birthday I hauled out ye olde Littlemill 22yo 1990 BBR. I've only opened up this bottle during her birthday week for each of the past three years. As a result it'll still be two-thirds full when it goes back into its hiding place this week.

When I first opened it, for Mathilda's third birthday, the whisky was okay (and oaky) and not much more than that, which was a letdown because I really like Littlemill with some age on it. When I reopened the bottle a year later, for Mathilda's fourth birthday, it was much better. The aggressive oak notes had faded away, leaving behind a much better balanced whisky. Plus it drank very well, which might be a relevant thing. One year has passed. My eldest is 25% older. As am I.

Distillery: Littlemill
Former Owner: Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Ltd (proto-Loch Lomond Distillery Co.)
Independent Bottler: Berry Bros. & Rudd
Region: Lowlands (close to the Highlands border)
Age: 22 years (1990-2013)
Maturation: American oak?
Cask number17
Alcohol by Volume: 54.3%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No

Mmmmmmangoes on the nose. Then tapioca pudding, vanilla bean, lemon custard, cardamom, orange blossoms and honeydew. It's gentle for the ABV, without being weak. Apricots, loquats (I heart loquats), cantaloupe, lime juice and a fragrant vanilla bean note on the palate. It's a bit minty too, and its sweetness is balanced by tart and spicy notes. It finishes with apricots, lemon bars and mint leaves. It concludes with a spicy zing and moderate sweetness.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1 tsp water per 30mL whisky
The nose is mustier, maltier, and has picked up a metallic note. There's less vanilla, more almond butter. Orange peel and black licorice (Sambuca, anise, etc.). The palate gets sweeter, while also picking up a good herbal bitter note. There's brown sugar, apricots and grapefruit, as well as quiet notes of dried flowers and leaves. The finish has a bright tanginess and bitterness, along with brown sugar, tapioca pudding, limes and roses.

I was about to write that this Littlemill is trending close to well-aged Irish whiskey, thinking I was saying something new, but then I saw I'd referenced a similar thing last year. The whisky has changed less between year 2 and 3 than it had between year 1 and 2. It's still quite cuddly for its ABV, and remains very cohesive. And there's some overlap with last year's notes. It takes to water well now, adding some needed complexity to all that ripe fruit.

While this continues to be a very good whisky, nothing lifts it to the next level. I'd thought this was chasing a 90 score, but when I tried it head-to-head with this Friday's whisky its quality was put into perspective. Unless it shows some real change, next year might mark its last review. After that I'm going to drink it for fun. Imagine that!

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $140 back in January 2015
Rating - 87

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