...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Croftengea 10 year old 2006 Exclusive Malts, cask 485

Yesterday it was Loch Lomond Cleans Up. Today it is Loch Lomond Gets Dirty. But I'm not talking about garbage-smelling rot. I'm talking about The Place With The Funny Stills taking on Islay headfirst. Croftengea is the distillery's heavily peated malt. I'm going to guess it's in the 50ppm range, because this stuff is intense. But it's not a mess, and it thumped my expectations.

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Brand: Croftengea
Owner: Loch Lomond Distillery Company
Region: Highlands (Western)
Independent bottler: Creative Whisky Company
Range: Exclusive Malts
Age: 10 years (22 March 2006 to April 2016)
Maturation: Hogshead?
Cask number485
Outturn: 302
Alcohol by Volume: 56.7%
(from a purchased sample)

The nose has the weird delights of good Fettercairn and the never-beloved-by-experts-but-totally-beloved-by-me late '80s & early '90s Ledaig, except bigger. Old greasy machines and engines. Bowling shoes in a moldy basement. A slab of plasticky peat. Also some flowers and pineapple, just because. Marshmallows in the palate, then sweet peat and moderate heat. Nothing horrifying; in fact it is very drinkable. Moss and tangy fruits. A hint of bitter greens. It finishes sweet and smoky with white fruits and cinnamon. Loooooong.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1⅓tsp water per 30mL whisky
Having shed some of the fun fug, the nose edges into Ardbeg and Kilchoman territory. Moss, soot and burnt hay lead the way, with tiny bit of white fruit underneath. Cocoa and cinnamon in the palate, along with plumes of smoke. Also lemons and arugula. It finishes with smoke, sugar and lemons. Peated limoncello?

Is this a perfect whisky? Nope. It is it awesome? Yep. Great pick, Mr. Stirk. This might be the most entertaining whisky I've had all year. It's zanier than anything coming from Islay while still delivering Capital P Peat.

Unlike certain distillers who age batches of kerosene and napalm in burnt grape juice barrels for a couple years and crown themselves mad scientists, Loch Lomond hasn't made something big and strange and ugly just for the sake of doing so. There's a way into this whisky. Reach out and you'll find tiny familiar handles to grab onto just before the ride starts. You'll make it through without getting hurt, I promise. Plus there is actual complexity in the thing and about as much mouthfeel as the distillery can muster. Is it going to knock Lagavulin 12yo Cask Strength off my shelf? Probably not. But I'd like to see what else Loch Lomond can do with this style.

Availability - Some European retailers
Pricing - €60-€70
Rating - 88

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