At this point everyone knows that a whole slew of casks filled at Littlemill in the 1988-1992 period and bottled 20+ years later by various indies has made us forget how awful the distillery’s official releases before it closed were. One wonders how many distilleries with indifferent to bad reputations that scenario might not work out well for. All this to say, I’m expecting this sample to blow my socks off and if it doesn’t then I will blame Michael K.
Littlemill 22, 1990 (54.3%; Berry Bros. & Rudd; cask 17 for Total Wine; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Lemon, grapefruit, tart pineapple, a whiff of gasoline. Chalkier and more mineral on the second sniff and there’s some gooseberry in there too now. With a few drops of water the acid backs off a bit and there’s some cream and a leafy note.
Palate: Pretty much as indicated by the nose but there’s some cereals and it turns sweeter as I swallow. Nice texture and quite approachable at full strength. On the second sip there’s muskier fruit under the surface—a hint of peach, a hint of passionfruit—and the malt from the finish pops up earlier. Not much change with time; let’s see if water pulls out more of the musky fruit. Well, no but it calms the acid down here as well—the tart citrus etc. is now in better balance with the malt.
Finish: Long. The sweeter fruit builds and then turns acidic again. Some roasted malt emerges at the end along with some oak. As on the palate with water with that leafy note from the nose coming through as well.
Comments: This is very good, very Littlemill in its idiosyncrasy. Just missing the intense tropical fruit burst that some/many of the casks from this era exhibit but this has no flaws either. I still blame Michael but not for sending me this sample.
Rating: 88 points.
Thanks to Michael K. for the sample. Here’s his review.