This is the fourth Littlemill I’ve reviewed this year. The first was the old Littlemill 12, which was, as I said then, as unloved an OB whisky as you could hope to find. The other two were much older, part of the revival of Littlemill’s reputation that got underway in the early years of this decade as a number of casks bottled in the late 1980s came to market that had been matured to a far greater age than was probably intended for them at time of distillation. One of of those I really liked—the Archives 22 yo distilled in 1989. The other—a Berry Bros & Rudd 21 yo bottled distilled in 1992—was quite good but nothing so very special. This one from the Creative Whisky Company, under their Exclusive Malts label, is older than both of those and distilled the earliest. That might lead you to think that it’s got a good chance of being the best of the lot but things don’t always work out that way with whisky: the idiosyncrasies of individual casks are hard to predict and not all bottlers can be relied on for consistency. Anyway, let’s see what this is like.
Littlemill 24, 1988 (49.8%; Exclusive Malts; cask #9; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: The usual Littlemill mix of musky citrus and gasoline; some glue too along with a vegetal quality and a bi of glycerine. More herbal as it sits (dill, rosemary, mint). With more time the herbal notes recede and there’s more fruit. Nothing worth remarking with water.
Palate: Not a whole lot happening here: some acidic fruit, some bready/yeasty notes, some oak. The mouthfeel is rather thin. The glycerine from the nose shows up here with time (not a lot of it but enough to call attention to itself). With more time there’s some melon but it’s not the fruit as much as melon flavoured-candy and it’s got a slightly chemical edge. Okay, let’s add water. Some improvement here with water: the chemical, glycerine notes recede, the fruit expands a bit, and it gets peppery quicker.
Finish: Long. The acid hangs around for a good while, picking up white pepper and then some tannic oak as it goes. A touch of soot at the very end. With water it’s more peppery than acidic or oaky.
Comments: Drinkable enough but not very impressive, I’m afraid. This is not the cask with which to make the case for the brilliance of these late ’80s/early ’90s Littlemills (it mostly reminded me of this Hart Bros. 20 yo). It’s better than the OB Littlemill 12 that’s half its age, to be sure, but while the roughest edges of that one have been removed, no complexity has resulted from the extra 12 years in the cask. Better with water.
Rating: 82 points.
Thanks to gimmeadram for the sample!