Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Review | Lochlea 5 years old

This whisky is a special limited edition from the award-winning Lowland farm-to-bottle distillery of Lochlea. It has been released to mark their fifth birthday. The whisky is a vatting of just five casks, each showing a different side to the house spirit. Two of them included are from the very first distillation and cask filling in August 2018. It is the oldest whisky released by Lochlea to date and the first to carry an age statement. 

The Lochlea 5 years old has been created by John Campbell, the Production Director at Lochlea, who personally selected the five casks. These consist of two ex-bourbon, two ex-Oloroso sherry and one ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry. The bottling was released for Burns Night as a hat tip to Robert Burns, who inherited Lochlea Farm where the distillery is located, and lived and worked there for several years.

Lochlea was founded in 2015 by Neil McGeoch, under the name Lochlea Distilling Co. It is located in rural Ayrshire to the south of Kilmarnock. He converted Lochlea Farm from beef production to growing barley for whisky making. The distillery is in the old piggery and a cattleshed has been turned into the maturation warehouse. The independent family-owned distillery has an annual production capacity of 200,000 litres. Their inaugural whisky, Lochlea First Release, was launched in early 2022.

The Lochlea 5 years old is bottled at 50% ABV and will be available from selected specialist whisky retailers in the UK. The exact number of bottles was not revealed in the press release. A bottle will cost £90, while stocks last. 


"This is an incredibly special dram to mark our first special milestone birthday. We wanted to create a whisky that shows off the best of Lochlea spirit matured in different styles of casks over the last half a decade. We have carefully chosen these five casks and will not replicate this ever again." 
John Campbell. 
Our Tasting Notes
The colour is deep golden yellow with a hint of amber and the nose is rich, sweet and packed with fruit and nuts. Caramelised apple and toasted hazelnut aromas are supported by raisin and sultana, plus hints of orange oil and crumbly brown sugar. Further hints of gingerbread and dried tropical fruits also sit in the background, as does a pinch of cocoa powder.

On the palate this whisky has a luscious and bold feel. It is rich and sweet as on the nose. Again the fruity and nutty elements rise first - think of fairground toffee apple, Cognac-soaked raisins and juicy sultanas mixed with toasted walnuts and hazelnut praline. There is also some poached pear and bitter orange zest marmalade notes that evolve.

The sweetness continues with notes of caramel and milk chocolate. The hint of dried tropical fruit from the nose is never far away and add extra depth. Then come the savoury notes - imagine bitter cocoa, gingerbread and an evolving oaky quality. The oak in particular pulls the sweetness back and makes it pleasantly drying. Hints of menthol, clove and white pepper round things off nicely.

The finish is long and becomes increasingly warming and oaky. The sweet caramel-like characteristics fade slightly too quickly, followed by the luscious fruitiness. This leaves the wood and spice notes to draw the finish out and create that lovely warmth.

What's The Verdict?

Another fine whisky from Lochlea and one fitting for their fifth anniversary. We have enjoyed several of their previous releases, including the Fallow Edition (2nd Crop) that made our Top 10 Whiskies of 2023 list. This has extra depth and complexity due to the combination and extra age of the casks used. This 5 years old is rich, bold and expressive. We cannot wait to see how Lochlea's whiskies develop and what they may release next.

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