Old Rhosdhu 24, 1979 (Murray McDavid)

Loch Lomond

Image taken from the Tintin Wiki

Old Rhosdhu is not a distillery, it is a brand of whisky produced at the Loch Lomond distillery (alongside a host of others). Loch Lomond, as everyone who grew up reading Tintin comics knows, was the favourite whisky of both Captain Haddock and Tintin’s dog, Snowy (who is seen enjoying drops from leaking barrels of Loch Lomond in The Black Island in 1937, four years before Captain Haddock made his debut in The Crab with the Golden Claws). Or was it? Since the actual distillery named Loch Lomond was only founded in 1966 this may just be a coincidence. However, as per the Tintin Wiki (yes, there is such a thing) the early panels of The Black Island actually showed the well-known name of Johnnie Walker and were changed to show Loch Lomond only after 1966 (see the image above). I have no idea what occasioned the change but we might say that retconning does in fact make Loch Lomond the favourite whisky of Captain Haddock and Snowy.

None of this has anything to do with the whisky I am reviewing tonight, which was issued by Murray McDavid–the independent bottlers associated with the revived Bruichladdich distillery–they who are renowned for “finishing”, I mean “ACE’ing” (ACE stands for “Additional Cask Enhancement” if you please) whiskies in everything but a septic tank (yes, I make this hilarious joke every chance I get–so what?). The whiskies released in their Mission series, however, are generally left alone, and this is one such. Let’s get to it:

Old Rhosdhu 24, 1979 (46%, Murray Mcdavid Mission III; from a sample received in a swap)

Old RhosdhuNose: A little bit spirity at first but then nice fresh fruity aromas (apples, pears, a hint of peach) intermingled with a grassiness. With a bit of time the fruit becomes quite musky, almost tropical–mostly in the melon family. Then it becomes a touch acidic (acetic rather than citric) but the musky note keeps expanding, getting finally quite intense. Very nice, I must say. A touch of water (added very late) brightens the fruit up and also brings some spicy wood out, but frankly, I preferred it without water.

Palate: Not quite as rich as the nose but very, very nice too. Mellower fruit with more wood and hints of peppery spice. Despite the musky intensity of the nose, this is very light and refreshing on the palate. The fruit is not particularly tropical on the palate; there’s some apple peel here and more bite. Water brings out a little more sweetness.

Finish: Medium. Begins to feel a little thin, and the dominant note is the spicy, peppery woody thing with some of the fruit hanging on. Water blands the finish a bit.

Comments: I had very low expectations but this is really very good. There’s a really nice development from the uber-fruitiness of the nose to the more delicate palate to the mildly woody bite of the finish. I wonder why they didn’t bottle it at cask strength. A little more intensity and this could probably challenge the storied fruity malts of the 70s (from your Caperdonichs, Benriachs and Tomatins) at their own game. It’s that lack of intensity on the palate and finish that keeps it out of the 90s for me. Now, I just wish I could find a bottle at a reasonable price. Also, can anyone recommend any other good Old Rhosdhus or other unlikely gems from Loch Lomond?

Many thanks to bpbleus for the sample!

Rating: 89 points.

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