Lochside is one of those closed distilleries that is never coming back. Located in the eastern Highlands—well east of the Speyside and separated by it from most of the distilleries we usually associate with the Highlands—it was closed in 1992 and then demolished in 2004-2005. It was somewhat unusual in that it was set up to produce both grain and malt whisky—though I’m not sure if grain whisky was indeed produced there for its entire history. As with a number of closed distilleries, Lochside’s reputation expanded well after its closure. It is also one of the distilleries that has a magical year of production associated with its name. People go on about Caperdonich distilled in 1972 and BenRiach and Tomatin distilled in 1976, and in the case of Lochside, it’s the 1981 vintage that is said to be the magical one. I haven’t looked into it closely but I suspect the same selection bias is at play as I’ve described for Caperdonich and Tomatin. Feel free to heap coals on my head. It won’t be the first time. Continue reading
Okay, after a 39 yo whisky from 1972 yesterday let’s go even older. This is a 44 yo Lochside distilled in 1967 and bottled in 2012 by the indie German bottler Malts of Scotland. Lochside, as you may know, is a closed distillery (closed in 1992 and demolished in 2005) that acquired a bit of a cult in the last decade. While the mania around it has never approached the heights of that around names like Port Ellen, Brora or even Caperdonich, the interest in it has doubtless been fueled by the fact that there’s been far less of it bottled over the years (Whiskybase lists 139 releases of Lochside as oppposed to 323 of Caperdonich). For someone like me who came relatively late to drinking non-standard malts this has also meant far fewer opportunities to taste a variety of Lochside’s malt and so I have very little to offer by way of informed opinion on its characteristics or aptness of reputation. Continue reading
Lochside is another distillery whose reputation seems to have been made after its closure. Indeed, the Malt Maniacs’ Monitor lists very few Lochside bottlings released before the distillery’s closure in 1992. As my own experience with Lochside is close to negligible, I am in no position to gauge to what degree this reputation may be borne aloft on the diffuse vapours of romance and nostalgia. And as the supply of Lochsides from indie bottlers seems already to be drying up, it may well be that I will not have the chance to investigate very deeply. If you do want to try Lochside at its best, the magic year is supposed to be 1981 (I have already expressed my reservations about magic years here). The whisky I am trying tonight is not from that year, but from 1991. It is from a single cask bottled by Gordon & Macphail for Binny’s in Chicago.