Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Review | Lochlea Ploughing Edition (Second Crop)

This whisky is the second release of limited edition Ploughing Edition single malt range from the Lowland distillery of Lochlea. The Lochlea Ploughing Edition (Second Crop) is the fourth and final bottling in its Second Crop series, which celebrates the annual farm cycle. Other releases include the Sowing, Harvest and Fallow Editions. Lochlea is one of the only distilleries in Scotland to grow all of the barley used for whisky production.

Lochlea Ploughing Edition (Second Crop) marks winter in the cycle and the time when fields are ploughed in preparation for sowing the barley in the spring. The release sees the spirit matured for its full term in 200-litre ex-Islay whisky barrels. This gives John Campbell, Production Director at Lochlea, the chance to talk about his home island of Islay where he grew up and lived for many years. This includes a stint of 27 years when he was the longest serving Distillery Manager at Laphroaig. 

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.

Lochlea Ploughing Edition (Second Crop) is bottled at 46% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It is available from selected specialist whisky retailers in the UK and selected overseas markets. A bottle will cost £52.


Our Tasting Notes

The colour is a pale straw yellow and the nose is green, fresh and vibrant. Uplifting aromas of orchard fruit (think especially of crisp green apple and pear), white chocolate and fresh lemon zest mingle with robust malty cereals and a distinctive whiff of acrid, medicinal peat smoke.

On the palate this whisky has an instant prickly white pepper quality and a hint of green chilli. As this settles other notes begin to evolve. First comes some sweetness in the form of icing sugar, vanilla fudge and white chocolate with hints of marshmallow and nougat. The green characteristics from the nose then follow, which maintains that vibarncy and uplifting feel - think of the crisp apple and pear again, plus freshly cut hay meadow. Everything is underpinned by a distinct maltiness and an underlying ashy peat smoke - this is reminiscent of dying embers with a medicinal iodine-like twist.

The finish is long, hot and with the acquired peat smoke to the fore. It is packed with lingering peat embers and bonfire ash, and really comes through stronger than before. This is especially true once the sweetness and crisp, vibrant green fruit fade. A pinch of sea salt and cocoa powder add depth. That lemon zest also returns right at the end.

What's The Verdict?

This is a vibrant, feisty and fresh whisky from Lochlea. It is probably the one that shows its youthfulness the most of all those that we have sampled. The inherited peat smoke that has come from the cask just accentuates this feeling. It is also the one that has allowed the robust malty notes of Lochlea to shine through the most. 

Ploughing Edition (Second Crop) is definitely one to try if you like smoky whiskies. The cask influence gives it a different edge to if it were made using peated malt. We love what Lochlea are doing and cannot wait to see what may be next.

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