Last month I reviewed whiskies from Port Ellen and Brora. Here now is a whisky from another distillery that closed in the early 1980s but whose post-closure releases have not developed the aura, on the whole, that the whiskies from Port Ellen and Brora have: the Lowlands distillery, Linlithgow/St. Magdalene. I’ve only reviewed two other Linlithgows (and not had very many more than two). At the time of my first review (also of a 1982 distillation), I noted that I did not know if anything distinguished the malt released under the Linlithgow name from that released as St. Magdalene. Almost six years later, I still don’t; if you know the answer, please write in below. This particular Linlithgow was released in 2011 or 2012 by Mackillop’s Choice. I’m not entirely sure if Mackillop’s Choice is still on the go (another question for the better informed to answer)—at any rate, I don’t see any 2019 releases from them on Whiskybase and there were only a handful in 2018. Anyway, let’s get to the whisky!
Linlithgow 28, 1982 (57.3%; Mackillop’s Choice; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Austere to start with prickly, wet wool, mineral oil, lemon zest and a bit of chalk. The lemon is a touch sweeter on the second sniff. As it sits there’s some cereals as well. Gets a bit muskier as it sits and that prickly, mineral note moves in the direction of aspirin. With a splash of water there’s some citronella, some tart-sweet apple and quite a bit of wax.
Palate: Comes in hot but approachable with pretty much everything from the nose. Some rubber gasket too—a sign of peat? On the second sip there’s a greater maltiness. With time the prickliness, the acid and the sweeter notes come into perfect balance. Okay, let’s see what water does. The acid expands as does the peat but there’s also a yeasty note. After a bit there’s a simple syrup-sweetness.
Finish: Long. Nothing new here. That rubber gasket note becomes palpably peatier as it goes; wet leaves at the very end. A little saltier at the end with water and there’s a cinnamon coolness as well (the first sign of oak).
Comments: Old-school austere whisky. Very spirit-driven; in fact, there’s almost no sign of oak. Must have been a third or fourth-fill cask. This is a very particular profile, probably not a crowd-pleaser.
Rating: 89 points.
Thanks to Jerome for the sample.