Last month I kicked off a week of highlands distilleries with a peated Loch Lomond: an Inchmoan. This time I’m kicking off an entire month with a peated Loch Lomond, but this time it’s a Croftengea. (Again, you’ll need to go to more detail-oriented people to find out exactly how Inchmoan and Croftengea differ from each other or, for that matter, from Inchfad, Loch Lomond’s other peated line.) I’m also using it to end a week of reviews of peated whiskies (after Monday’s Lagavulin and Wednesday’s Talisker), even though the SMWS named this one, “It’s peat, Jim, but not as we know it…”
I’ve rather liked the other Croftengeas I’ve reviewed. This, a 7 yo, is the youngest of them yet, but I will remind you that one of my favourite whiskies of 2018 was a 9 yo Croftengea. Which is to say in a hopeful tone of voice that young Croftengea can be very good indeed. Let’s see if that hope survives reality.
Loch Lomond/Croftengea 7, 2011 (58.6%; SMWS 122.26; second-fill bourbon barrel; from a bottle split)
Nose: Not a whole lot of peat off the top but there’s a fair bit of fruit (pineapple, melon, overripe apple). The peat emerges on the second sniff bringing brine and chalk with it. Gets ashy fast and also more acidic—the initial sweet fruit is covered up as the citrus turns to citronella and the ashy note to paraffin. With more time the sweeter fruits begins to re-emerge bringing some pastry crust with them and the citronella turns to lime. A few drops of water pull out more of the pineapple (and it’s got a bit of char on it). More paraffin now and less ash.
Palate: Big ash at entry but the fruit is right there with it—citrus up top and the sweeter stuff below it. Turns just a bit soapy as I swallow. Very approachable at full strength with thick, oily texture. With time the soapy note moves in the direction of talcum powder and polished wood (sandalwood?). Let’s see what water does for it. Well, it pushes the talcum powder back a bit but not all the way. It does bring out sweeter notes—that pastry crust from the nose—and also some cracked pepper.
Finish: Long. The soapy note expands here but it doesn’t quite rise to objectionable levels. The transition to talcum powder/sandalwood continues here as well. As on the palate with water.
Comments: A very idiosyncratic whisky—as so many Loch Lomonds are—that doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the nose but is very good anyway. I could do without quite as much of what I’m identifying as talcum powder—without it the fruit would be far more expressive—but it stops short of being a fatal flaw. If you have/had a full bottle I’d be interested to know how it develops with air/time. For once, I approve of the name the SMWS gave it.
Rating: 86 points.