Okay, let’s do a week of reviews of Highland distilleries. First up is a Loch Lomond 10 bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Word on the street is that this is more specifically an Inchmoan. Inchmoan is, as you probably know, one of Loch Lomond’s peated lines. Though what exactly separates Inchmoan from the other peated Loch Lomonds—your Inchfads and Croftengeas—I’m not entirely sure and you may need to go to a more reliable source to find out. Well, this particular Inchmoan is quite different from most whiskies, whether made at Loch Lomond or elsewhere. That because the yeast used for the batch this cask came from was quite different from the types normally used in the fermentation process in making single malt whisky: it was a wine yeast. Now, for all I know, I’ve had other whiskies before without knowing it that had wine yeast in their production process but now that I do know for a fact that it was used to make this whisky I am very curious to see what characteristics it imparts. Let’s get to it.
Loch Lomond/Inchoman 10, 2009 (59.9%; SMWS 135.22; first-fill bourbon barrel; from a bottle split)
Nose: I may be impressionable but yeast is the first thing I note. But it’s not bready yeast—it’s altogether fruitier. At first that fruit is highly carbonated lemon but it begins to shift quickly into sweeter territory—think watermelon-flavoured chewing gum. Oh, and did I mention the big blast of paraffin? Continues in this vein for a bit and then there’s a big hit of blueberries. Below all that lurks something organic/funky and also something floral—rotting rose petals? The oak begins to show up with time but in the guise of Amrut-style rosewood. A few drops of water push the oak back and bring out some of the roasted nuts from the finish. Some apricot mixed in with the fruit now.
Palate: Comes in hot and acidic and more than a little bit savoury. Despite the alcohol burn it’s approachable at full strength with good texture. On the second sip the fruit begins to expand: a lot of different kinds of ctrus peel flash in and out. With time the citrus gets sweeter and muskier (makrut lime now) and is joined by some charred pineapple. But there’s also a brief flash of a soapy note—or is that talcum powder? Okay, let’s see what water does for it. It’s tart-sweet citrus overload now with some roasted malt running through it.
Finish: Long. The oak emerges here (toasted) along with roasted nuts and very milky coffee with chicory in it. As on the palate with water.
Comments: I don’t know if I would call this bizarre but it sure is wild and unusual. The smoke gets a bit lost in the wine yeast carnival but that’s okay. As non-cookie cutter as whisky gets. Water made it a bit more conventionally fruity but I liked it even more that way.
Rating: 88 points.