Lochside is another distillery whose reputation seems to have been made after its closure. Indeed, the Malt Maniacs’ Monitor lists very few Lochside bottlings released before the distillery’s closure in 1992. As my own experience with Lochside is close to negligible, I am in no position to gauge to what degree this reputation may be borne aloft on the diffuse vapours of romance and nostalgia. And as the supply of Lochsides from indie bottlers seems already to be drying up, it may well be that I will not have the chance to investigate very deeply. If you do want to try Lochside at its best, the magic year is supposed to be 1981 (I have already expressed my reservations about magic years here). The whisky I am trying tonight is not from that year, but from 1991. It is from a single cask bottled by Gordon & Macphail for Binny’s in Chicago.
Lochside 13, 1991-2005 (46%, G&M, Cask 15201 for Binny’s; from my own bottle)
Nose: A dry maltiness at first. Then quite a bit of brine, and just a whiff of smoke. The coastal air gets a little sweeter with time, and with a little more time the sweetness turns to a vague yeasty fruitiness. Not a whole lot of development after that for a while, but with more time/neglect, the tropical fruit that’s apparent very early on the palate shows up on the nose too, along with a little more salt. Water dials back the fruit and seems to bring that whiff of smoke back. Actually, with a little more time the fruit returns but it’s now more acidic.
Palate: Sweet and malty and then a nice hit of musky over-ripe fruit: peach, apricot, and also mango and papaya. A lot of tingling wood spice too. A small sip really fills up the mouth (if that makes any sense). But it’s all rather evanescent. The final impression is a little watery. Let’s risk adding some water anyway: water makes the fruit a little brighter/sharper but I don’t think it’s very necessary.
Finish: Medium. Mostly features the tingling wood spice at first. But after a while the fruit starts hanging out too. Water lengthens the finish a little but it’s mostly the tingly stuff that stays longer. Gets a little stony too (the taste of wet stones).
Comments: Very nice indeed. I expect that fruit would have been far more expressive at cask strength–a pity Binny’s didn’t bottle it that way. As it is, the fruit makes a grand arrival but disappears very quickly. I have to say that it’s been a while since I last poured from this bottle, and I don’t remember it being quite as fruity in the early going; indeed, I remember it being very malty. I wonder if it’s exposure to air in the bottle that’s emphasized the fruit.
Rating: 86 points