Thursday, August 31, 2023

Review / Loch Lomond Steam & Fire

The Highland distillery of Loch Lomond has launched the latest expression in it Remarkable Makers series of Scotch single malts - the Loch Lomond Steam & Fire. The new whisky has been finished for 10 months in heavily charred American oak barrels, which were fired at Loch Lomond's own cooperage, and highlights the capabilities of distillation and maturation. It features spirit produced on the distillery's traditional swan neck still and unorthodox straight neck still, plus a small pocket of heavily peated spirit. These average between six and nine years of age.

As with previous Remarkable Makers bottlings, Steam & Fire sees a collaboration with a like-minded artisan - in this case open fire chef Genevieve Taylor. Loch Lomond Steam & Fire whisky is bottled at 46% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It will be available is selected global markets and will cost £45.

The Loch Lomond distillery was founded in 1965 by the Littlemill Distillery Company Ltd. After almost 20 years of production it closed between 1984 and 1987 following a takeover by the Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Ltd. The current owners are the Loch Lomond Group, who also own Glen Scotia in Campbeltown. The distillery is unusual in that it has straight-necked and traditional swan-necked stills. They also produce unpeated and peated single malt, plus single grain whisky through these stills. The annual capacity is five million litres. 
"At Loch Lomond, we are driven to experiment with flavour, creating unique single malts that push the boundaries. Steam & Fire is unlike anything we have created before, and is a bringing together our impressive capabilities in distillation and maturation." 
Michael Henry / Master Blender at Loch Lomond.
Our Tasting Notes
The colour is vibrant golden yellow and the nose is sweet, fruity and confected but with some spice in the background. Early aromas of toffee apple and vanilla fudge are followed by crisp green pear and white chocolate. Then come a warming prickle of woody spice - think of cinnamon and clove especially.

On the palate this whisky has a lovely mouthfeel. It is creamy, slightly oily and viscous. The green fruit from the nose is again evident early on. The toffee apple and crisp pear have now evolved to be softer and cooked in nature - imagine poached pear and caramelised apple compote. These are backed up by notes of vanilla, crumbly brown sugar, barbequed peach and toasted marshmallow.
The next layer of flavour to come through is citrus - this is especially reminiscent of candied orange peel or marmalade. The warming spices return but are subtle with hints of cinnamon bark and clove. There is also an underlying soft, sweet and gentle whisp of peat smoke that links each element together superbly. A further hint of white chocolate and pinches of cocoa powder and icing sugar bring things to a lovely conclusion.
The finish is of decent length. The sweet and fruity notes fade to reveal the oaky and baking spices. This gives a little heat and dryness, and is really the only time the whisky reveals its more youthful elements. This is accentuated by that soft and gentle peat smoke, which becomes a touch more ashy and vegetal.

What's The Verdict?

This is a lovely whisky and one that gives you plenty for the price. We have always thought that Loch Lomond is a little underrated but this shows the great quality that is available from the distillery. The marrying of different styles made via the different stills has been expertly done, and the addition of the heavily charred casks has created a pleasant battle between confected sweetness and warming spice. A very nice single malt that is worth a try if presented with the opportunity.

No comments: