There’s been a bit of a Littlemill renaissance in the last few years. As so often seems to happen with closed distilleries that had ho-hum reputations when they were open, casks of Littlemill that have now sat around for two decades or more since the distillery closed have matured to display very positive characteristics: in particular, an intensely fruity character. Casks from 1988-1990, just before the distillery closed, are the ones that seem to be receiving the most plaudits. This one, bottled by the Nectar, is from 1990 but was released a few years ago, a little before the Littlemill renaissance really got underway. Let’s get right to it.
Littlemill 20, 1990 (54.3%; Nectar of the Daily Drams; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: A little spirity at first but floral and fruity aromas emerge, the latter quite sweet (peaches, ripe melon). Quite a bit of malt too and a bit of pepper. Seems a little closed. Let’s give it some time to settle. With time there’s a fair bit of lemon and the malt’s still there. Some vanilla too now. With a drop of water the lemon recedes a bit and there’s some prickly bite.
Palate: Malt hits first and then a wave of sweet fruit (white peaches), turning acidic (lemon) very quickly and then musky as it goes. Wonderful combination of malt and fruit and lovely mouthfeel–thick and mouth-coating. On the second sip the lemon is front and center, but it’s sweetened, mixed with simple syrup. On the third sip the lemon transitions to something between tart-sweet mango and papaya. Just a faint soapiness lurking in the back, and once I notice it it seems to get more insistent. A little more pepper too. Water makes the palate sharper, more acidic and brings out a menthol coolness too. The soap is less obtrusive now.
Finish: Long. The fruit lingers for a long time and there’s a bit of a tropical edge now. With more time it gets both sweeter (top note) and more bitter (on the edges) at once. That sharp menthol coolness lingers long into the finish with water.
Comments: This is really very nice (I preferred it neat even though water got rid of that hint of soap). Probably the best Littlemill I’ve had so far. If not for that bit of soap I could get even closer to 90 points. Now, what I would really like to taste is a Littlemill with no soapy notes.
Rating: 88 points.
Thanks to bpbleus for the sample!