Thursday, June 13, 2024

Review | Lochlea Cask Strength Batch 2

Cask Strength Batch 2 is the latest limited-edition single malt whisky from the Ayrshire field-to-cask farm distillery of Lochlea (pronounced lock-lee). This second batch is both older and features different casks to the inaugural 2023 release. The batch features a cask make up not seen before in previous bottlings from the distillery - ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry (60% of the marriage) and ex-Oloroso sherry (28%) butts, plus STR ex- red wine barriques (12%). All the whiskies were distilled in 2018 or 2019.

Lochlea was founded in 2015 by Neil and Jen McGeoch. It is located in rural Ayrshire to the south of Kilmarnock. They converted Lochlea Farm from beef production to growing barley for whisky making. All whisky is produced using barley grown on the farm. The distillery is in the old piggery and a converted cattleshed is 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 and followed by their core product, Our Barley, later that year.

Lochlea Cask Strength Batch 2 is bottled at 60% ABV and is both non-chill filtered and of natural colour. It is now available via selected specialist whisky retailers in the UK (please find a list of stockists here) and other world markets. A bottle will cost £66.50 each.

Our Tasting Notes

The colour is a deep coppery amber and the nose is rich and chocolate-like. Aromas of milk chocolate and mocha rise first, to be quickly followed by raisin, treacle and baked apple. Hints of cocoa powder, cinnamon and something minty or menthol sit in the background. It is enticing and makes you want to take a sip.

On the palate this is whisky feels big and powerful. It has a viscous and slightly oily mouth feel. Early notes of caramel and toffee give way to treacle tart and brandy-soaked raisins with a twist of bitter orange peel. Then comes baked notes that are reminiscent of tarte tatin and apple patisserie with a hint of fresh gingerbread biscuit.

The second half of the palate is led by savoury notes - think of dusty and earthy spices such as cinnamon and clove. These sit alongside lovely notes of dried fig and affogato (imagine good vanilla ice cream with freshly brewed espresso coffee poured over the top). The addition of water knocks back the alcohol and softens the whisky. This allows more orange and chocolate notes to shine, while also dampening the dusty spices.

The finish is long and warming. The early sweet and fruity notes fade slowly and this gives the spotlight to those dusty, earthy spices. Some wood tannins also show themselves to add a pleasant dryness. This in combination with the other savoury characteristics means that the whisky takes a very pleasing turn.

What's The Verdict?

Anyone that reads our blog often will know that we are big fans of Lochlea, their ethos and their whiskies. This is arguably one of their best releases to date and is showing very promising signs of what increased age is doing to their spirit. The depth and complexity is impressive, as is the balance between the sweet and savoury elements. It will be very interesting to see how Lochlea's whiskies will develop further with even more time in cask.

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