Bladnoch and Lochlea on Taste; Valentine Sweeties from Wemyss; Good Steal for Duncan Taylor

Hello everyone

Valentine‘s Day love to all whisky enthusiasts. I did mention a couple of potential tasting samples last time and they did, indeed, arrive. Of the several Bladnochs mentioned a sample bottle of the 14 Year Old was delivered and I met up with John Campbell of Lochlea to collect a sample of their recently released 5 Year Old.

Let‘s start with the Lochlea 5 Year Old from Ayrshire, making it a Lowland whisky but don‘t get hung up on traditionally expected Lowland characteristics. This is the first one they‘ve released with an age statement and it comes from a mix of five casks: 2 x first fill bourbon wood; 1x first-fill oloroso; 1 x double-matured PX sherry and 1 x double-matured oloroso. Two of those are from the very first day of filling in August 2018. It comes bottled at 50% abv with no chill-filtration and no added colour. The cask mix is exciting for me as I love a good sherry matured whisky and I was keen to see how the various cask types married together here. It‘s delicious!

Appearance: Medium glowing amber with orange marmalade highlights and a white rim. Tears are very swift to form and close together. The second wave is slower but still quite close. It‘s youthful. However, age isn‘t always everything as we know from a few other distilleries too.

Nose: Some lovely brown/barley sugar and malty notes. Slightly grassy at first too. Warm plums. I also got a little waft of alcohol, so showing its youth but that passes. Creamy, waxy and slight fresh earth notes. A touch of florals (if anyone out there remembers a sweet from distant youth called floral gums); pear juice and brioche.

With water, warm baked plum and still slightly perfumed and slight beer notes. Some citrus zest too and soft candy, like Dolly Mixtures – maybe icing sugar. Some new leather as in gloves or a saddlery.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Zesty on the tongue as in peppery; some oak; creamy plus citrus zest and dried herbs with a slight beer note and those florals again.

Finish: Medium dry and quite long for its age. Citrus zest, herbs, pepper and a nutty note, more like fresh peanuts for me.

Their own notes, which I checked out afterwards, say pineapple which I didn‘t get but I’ll try again to decide whether I agree or not. These things tend to the subjective. I hadn‘t had samples of earlier Lochleas but for me this one is a fine start and I‘m looking forward to further developments. I‘m also hoping to get down to Lochlea to do an interview with John Campbell. I‘ve interviewed him before when he was at Laphroaig but there are some different questions to be asked here. Date for that to be sorted out.

Next one up is Bladnoch 14 Year Old. It‘s been ages since I had any Bladnoch at all so this felt very new to me. As mentioned last time, I had used a Bladnoch at a dinner which was down in Wigtown, near the distillery but that was under the old ownership, I think or just as it had been bought over. The bottling was Bladnoch Distiller‘s Choice, a standard strength and a rather pale colour. It worked with the asparagus and gorgonzola tart, though. This one is a quite different animal. Darker in colour and matured in oloroso sherry casks, it‘s at 46.7% vol.

Appearance: Warm, rich amber. Tawny highlights. Tears quite slow to form and sticky in the glass.

Nose: Sweet barley/demerara sugar at first; apple skins; toffee apple; soft, sweet oak;fruit cake spices and some vine fruit; chocolate raisins and treacle toffee.

With water, softer with the sweet spices a bit more forward; a hint of orange oil and a little „drier“ on the nose; some earthiness; milk chocolate plus caramel/toffee and some slightly toasty notes as well.

Palate: Quite mouth drying (sherry casks!); medium mouth feel; peppery and spicy on the tongue; touch of vanilla and oak tannins.

Finish: Quite long, dry and peppery with a hint of vanilla and grassiness.

A really enjoyable dram with plenty of layers to discover so I‘ll need to reacquaint myself with others in their range.

Just today, Wemyss Malts have released Sweetshop Symphony which is a 15 year old Glen Moray from Wemyss‘ own cask inventory. Members of their Cask Club got early notice of the launch and if you become a member it allows you to be „among the first to enjoy offers on exclusive bottlings and early access to new blended malt and single cask releases from Wemyss Malts“. Worth looking at as they do offer some cracking bottlings. They tell us the characteristics of this bottling are:

Nose: Honey sweetness on the open, white chocolate with swathes of sticky caramel. Crumbled fudge topped with flaked sea-salt.

Palate: Buttery custard, crème brule. hard candied sweets, lemon peel & chocolate covered raisins.

Finish: Comforting cinnamon & freshly ground ginger.

I love the sound of it and have enjoyed plenty of their whiskies in the past but don‘t currently have room in my wine/spirit store at home for another one! A pity as Glen Moray bottlings from the distillery‘s owners (La Martiniquaise) are amongst some of my favourites so trying this one would be a bonus.

Lastly for this time, news several days ago that Mark Thomson, my occasional judging chum for a certain whisky bar of the year award (as well as being fond of good tailoring and too much outdoor exercise), has left William Grant where he has worked with them on Glenfiddich for 10 years – and won several Brand Ambassador of the Year awards – to move to Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky of Huntly, as private client manager promoting its „cask sales and its portfolio of high-end and rare whiskies“. A real loss for Glenfiddich but quite the coup for DT Scotch Whisky. No one better for the job, I reckon. DT is known for its extensive collection of old and rare whiskies as well as cask inventory and branded ranges of blends and malts. Mark is shown here on the left of the picture alongside DT‘s senior hospitality and spirits manager, Ian Logan. It looks like this isn’t just a UK role so those of you further afield may well be seeing Mark again.

I‘ll be back at the end of this month with more bits and bobs. If all goes to plan, on 27th February there‘s an interview coming up with someone from the other side of the world and that will appear as a March column. Till next time, happy dramming.

Slainte mhath,



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