Monday, June 29, 2015

Review - The Loch Fyne range

The new Loch Fyne range has been launched with three whiskies included - the revamped award-winning Loch Fyne Blend, plus the new Living Cask Batch 1 and Living Cask 1745.  The new products will be joined by further bottlings in time and they coincide with a series of significant improvements to the Loch Fyne Whiskies shop, a new logo (pictured, above) and the launch of the brand new website for the brand.  All have been packaged in a stylish 50cl bottle that aims to bring the brand right up to date and introduce new consumers to it.

The shop is located in the small town of Inverary, which lies on the west coast of Scotland, roughly about half way between Glasgow and Oban, on the shores of the Loch Fyne - one of Scotland's best known sea lochs.  The three products will be available in the Loch Fyne Whiskies shop and, plus in the 22 stores of The Whisky Shop, the UK's largest high street whisky specialist retailer, and via

The Living Casks are blended malts that use a solera system, similar to that used in the sherry industry. This will see specially selected single malts added over time to a constant base and the Living Cask liquid evolving in different stylistic directions. Therefore each batch will show different characteristics but also a link back to the previous batches.  The original concept was created by Richard Joynson in the Loch Fyne Whiskies shop. Approximately three or four batches of the Living Cask are planned for each year.

The Loch Fyne Blend
The liquid of this remains as before but it is now presented in the new modern packaging.  It is a traditional blend of single malt and single grain whiskies and is bottled at 40% ABV.  It costs £24 per bottle.

The colour is golden amber and the nose has immediate aromas of toffee,  caramel, sultanas and malty cereals.  Underneath is some green apple and earthy cinnamon.  On the palate this feels soft and gentle.  There is an initial hit of crumbly brown sugar and the sultanas from the nose.  These are backed up by plenty of bittersweet malted cereals, dried apple, honey and candied orange .  Late hints of warming and earthy spices, especially cinnamon and ginger, add length to the finish.  This begins with the sweetness and fruitiness most prominent before becoming more bittersweet and grainy.

The Loch Fyne Living Cask Batch 1
Batch 1 of the Living Cask is a blend of Speyside and Islay malts and there are approximately 3,000 bottles available.  It is bottled at 43.6% ABV and a bottle will cost £42.

The colour is pale gold and the nose has a good mix of sweet and earthy aromas.  There are honey and vanilla, which is paired with soft and savoury peat smoke, and backed up by further aromas of green apple and ginger.  On the palate, this feels mouth coating and the soft peat smoke hits first.  This has an earthy and slightly medicinal quality.  The honey-like sweetness, then the green apples and some dried fruit (especially sultanas) then come through.  A late hint of toffee/butterscotch, a pinch of ginger and a distinct note of orange oil round things off and add length to the finish.  This turns drier as the smokiness comes back to the fore.

The Loch Fyne Living Cask 1745
The 1745 is made up of 100% Islay malts, some of which are of a significant age (20+ years), and mirrors the original recipe of the Living Cask at the shop.  1745 was the date that Inverary was founded by the 3rd Duke of Argyll, whose descendants still reside in Inverary Castle.  It is bottled at 43.6% ABV and will cost £75 a bottle.

The colour is golden yellow and the nose instantly transports you to Islay - it is packed with pungent earthy, ashy and medicinal smoky aromas that combine to give a distinct savoury feel.  Underneath are aromas of oat cakes, honey and stewed apple.  On the palate it is the smoke that hits first - it is acrid, bitter and medicinal with some warm ash-like notes in the background.  This gives a drying effect, which is balanced to a degree by some honey and vanilla.  There are also notes of gingerbread, dried green apple, bittersweet malty cereals and oat biscuits.  The finish is long, smoky and warming.

What's the verdict?
This is a good new range of whiskies that seems to offer something for all tastes - there is a soft, gentle, sweet entry level one, a sweet and mid-range smoky one and a heavier, big smoky one.  They are all very drinkable and pleasant, and also positioned at a selection of price points to appeal to a wider audience.  Rumour has it that these three bottlings will be joined by others in the range, so we cannot wait to see what they may offer.

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