The Loch Lomond distillery was built by the Littlemill Distillery Company in 1965, and then closed in 1984. It was reopened in 1987 under different ownership and is now part of the Loch Lomond Group, which operates both the Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia distilleries, alongside a bonded warehouse and bottling facility. Loch Lomond distillery is unusual in that it uses a variety of still types, including pot stills, continuous stills and the famous Inchmurrin stills, to produce a wide variety of whiskies, including Inchmurrin, Inchmoan and Loch Lomond single grain.
Croftengea is the most heavily peated of all Loch Lomond’s whiskies, and is normally used to add a twist of smoke to the distillery’s blends. Like most of the distillery’s single malts, it is made in Inchmurrin stills: copper pot stills whose swan necks have been replaced by rectifying columns.It first made an appearance in its own right in 2004, but bottlings of Croftengea single malt are still relatively rare – not to mention highly prized by fans of the style.
This expression distilled in 2008, was matured in a single refill American oak hogshead until 2018, when it was bottled at 54.8%. With bold notes of smoke and smoked meats beautifully underscored by Loch Lomond’s trademark fruit and rounded barley flavours, this is a dram to be savoured.
On the nose: there is an inviting waft of crisp red apples, butterscotch, vanilla, cinnamon and black pepper. These initial notes are closely followed by lemon zest, liquorice and salty caramel, chocolate and an enticing smokey, peaty undertone. Rounding-out the palate are notes of nutmeg, tarmac, thyme, a waft of apricot, honey and muscavado sugar. On the palate: there is an initial taste of sweet apples, smoky peat, which is subdued by very present, alongside vanilla and salty caramel. Notes of lemon zest, pineapple, coal and smoked haddock start to emerge, as well as those chocolate tones. Rounding-off the palate are notes of apricots, aniseed, elderflower and buttery note. The finish: long and smokey , with lingering notes of mint, butterscotch and mint.
The verdict: This Loch Lomond Croftengea limited expressions has a some interesting but surprising welcomed notes, with lots of texture that leads to some sweet apple-like notes. The smoky nature of this dram is more apparent on the palate than the nose but it is still quite subtle. Bottled at 54.8% ABV, it does required just a touch of water to unlock the full plethora of notes available on the nose and palate and a bit of patience.
Loch Lomond Croftengea 2008 Single Cask Scotch Whisky bottled exclusively for TWE can be found online at The Whisky Exchange for approximately £70. Though online stocks may be sold out, there is a possibility there some still available in-store.