Lochside 44, 1967 (Malts of Scotland)

Lochside 1967
Okay, after a 39 yo whisky from 1972 yesterday let’s go even older. This is a 44 yo Lochside distilled in 1967 and bottled in 2012 by the indie German bottler Malts of Scotland. Lochside, as you may know, is a closed distillery (closed in 1992 and demolished in 2005) that acquired a bit of a cult in the last decade. While the mania around it has never approached the heights of that around names like Port Ellen, Brora or even Caperdonich, the interest in it has doubtless been fueled by the fact that there’s been far less of it bottled over the years (Whiskybase lists 139 releases of Lochside as oppposed to 323 of Caperdonich). For someone like me who came relatively late to drinking non-standard malts this has also meant far fewer opportunities to taste a variety of Lochside’s malt and so I have very little to offer by way of informed opinion on its characteristics or aptness of reputation.

This cask from Malts of Scotland is one I’ve had my eye on for a while (it’s still around in the EU) but the price was always forbidding. However, given my new orientation towards quality/price (see yesterday’s post) I’d begun to seriously consider it; and so when I noticed that Whiskybase had samples of it on sale I decided to finally check it out.

Lochside 44, 1967 (41.7%; bourbon hogshead; from a purchased sample)

Nose: A little spirity at first with some green banana, and then a little metallic (but more in an oily machinery kind of way with sooty, faintly smoky overtones). Richer, custardy fruit starts emerging below that (a bit of apple, some pear, a bit of lemon zest) along with some malt and some brine and pepper; some Springbanky leatheriness too. With a few drops of water the lemon expands and the smoky/sooty quality does too; creamier too now.

Palate: An indistinct sweetness to start on the palate and then a big burst of tropical fruit as I swallow: mango, overripe pineapple; alas, the mouthfeel is too thin and so it’s both lacking intensity and that metallic note is not drowned out. On the second sip there’s more pepper and more spicy oak to go with the fruit. With time the intensity seems to pick up but the pepper expands with the fruit. Will water add depth, as it sometime does? Yes, water does make it a little oilier and does give the fruit a bit of depth but it also makes the wood a little too spicy, tipping the balance a little.

Finish: Short. The prickly pepper and then the spicy wood are the main notes here once the fruit quickly subsides. Longer with water and more interesting.

Comments: Some old fruity whiskies pack quite a bit of oomph even at 40% but this one seems to have been bottled a few years too late. At 38-40 yo, and probably a few more percentage points of abv, it probably would have been a barn burner but as it is it feels just a little too weak: the fruit is there but it’s offset by other notes that have risen up above it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very good and the progression from the nose to the palate is interesting; and they’re not making Lochside anymore. But, on the whole, it’s hard, I think, to justify the price for what’s in the glass.

Rating: 87 points.

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