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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Croftengea 15 year old 2002 SMWS 122.21

(Loch Lomond cluster homepage)

Sherry cask Croftengea is unknown territory for me. Fortified wine and aggressive peat often don't dance well, but when they do the result can be fabulous. SMWS had a solid approach with this whisky. The Croftengea spirit spent its first four years in a bourbon barrel, then its next 11 in a second-fill sherry barrel. Then again, there are second-fill sherry casks and there are second-fill sherry casks. Lemme see...

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Style: Croftengea
Owner: Loch Lomond Distillery Company (Hillhouse Capital Group)
Region: Highlands (Western)
Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 15 years (16 April 2002 - early 2018?)
Maturation: 4 years in bourbon barrel + 11 years in 2nd fill sherry cask
Cask: 122.21 - "What's cooking?"
Outturn: 220 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 56.8%
(from a bottle split)


The nose begins with grilled pork ribs and new sneakers, followed by orange peel, marzipan, Andes candies and vanilla bean. Salty barbecue pork, cocoa powder and grapefruit arrive first in the palate. Then there's ink, Thai chiles, tangerines and smoked almonds. A flawless balance of peat and sweet. Dried cherries join the pork in the finish above a swirl of savory, salt, smoke and sweet, with a squeeze of lime.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1⅓ tsp water per 30mL whisky

Dusty smoke blankets baking chocolate, coffee ground, blueberry juice and toffee in the nose. That smoke needs time to build in the palate. Lemons, horseradish, smoked almonds and a smoky porter fill in the rest. It finishes like a cigar and a glass of porter, with dried berries on the side.


Another terrific SMWS Loch Lomond! Priming Croftengea in a bourbon barrel, then pouring it into a moderate 2nd-fill sherry-season vessel did indeed do the trick. At this rate, I might need to stop making fun of that bottler. Or not. At least the name, "What's cooking?", sort of works, with all the pork, nuts, fruits and chiles. The nose and palate are pristine, and the finish elicits monosyllabic nonsense from the drinker. I cannot ask for anything more.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - less than $100 four years ago
Rating - 90