As you may know, in recent years malts from the closed lowlands distillery, Littlemill have become among the most sought after whiskies on the market. This mania, I should quickly clarify, is focused entirely on much older casks from the late 1980s and early 1990s that began to come to market in the early years of this decade. There was something very ironic about this development because when Littlemill was in fact open nobody had very much positive to say about it. I joke sometimes that more unsung or disliked distilleries should close down to turn their reputations around, but in Littlemill’s case this seems to be what’s happened. The truth, of course, is more likely to lie in the fact that once the distillery had closed, more of its surviving casks accidentally aged to a quality that was previously undiscovered in the official releases. For example, in this 12 yo, which is as unloved an OB release as you can hope to find. Having been warned away from it when I first began to pursue single malt whisky, this will actually be my first time tasting it. Will the bad reputation be warranted? Or will I regret not having tried it when bottles could easily be found on shelves in whisky stores everywhere? Let’s see.
Littlemill 12 (43%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Orange, copper coins, cardboard, yeast. No development as such with time or water.
Palate: As on the nose with the metallic note upfront and dominant and a bitter edge as I swallow. With more time I’m getting more of the musky, tropical notes that older Littlemills have come to be prized for. Maltier with time and the bitterness shades in the direction of burnt sugar/caramel. With more time it gets a bit too bitter and the cardboard expands as well: those promising notes of fruit are now nowhere in evidence. Let’s see if water brings them back out. A bit but there’s also far more cardboard now.
Finish: Short. Nothing new here and it peters out quickly with the bitterness leaving the lasting impression. Longer with water but not any better.
Comments: This is a frustrating whisky. There were some interesting fruity notes on the palate but they were covered up by the cardboard etc. and then it all sort of fell apart. Still, it was more drinkable than I’d feared it would be.
Rating: 78 points.