Littlemill is no Port Ellen or Brora, but it is a cult closed distillery in its own right. I’ve tasted manyverygoodexamples over the years, and while it does have somewhat of an acquired taste, it is certainly one that I have obtained.
There was a time, not that long ago, that even the official releases weren’t that expensive. I believe I payed just over 120 pounds for the Littlemill 21yo Second Release, which turned out to be a rather great whisky indeed. Over 4,000 bottles were available of that release.
That’s a stark contrast compared to the latest official release, the Littlemill 29 Years Old Private Cellar Edition #3, of which only 600 bottles are made available. Furthermore, the suggested retail price is 2,750 quid. That’s serious money. Actually, that’s silly money.
The only reason I now get to try this newest of Littlemills is because the Dutch importer was kind enough to share a press kit with me. According to the accompanying press release, this Littlemill first matured in refill bourbon casks (all from 1990), before being finished in first-fill oloroso sherry and Limousin oak casks.
That sounds a little unnecessary, as most Littlemill that I’ve tasted, even from refill bourbon casks, have been excellent, as long as they were allowed to age for at least two decades. At almost three decades of ageing, the third Private Cellar Release certainly meets that requirement.
However, I do have a lot of trust in master blender Michael Henry, who is responsible for all of the Loch Lomond Group’s whiskies. That’s not just Glen Scotia and Littlemill, but also all of the different whiskies produced at Loch Lomond.
I’ve spent a little time with him, and from what I’ve gathered, he’s incredible skillful and dedicated, and a pleasant person to be around too. He loves to talk nitty gritty details and nerdy stuff. So I for one am very curious to find out what he’s made of this precious liquid.
Nose: Pretty spot on Littlemill with that classic cardboard note and lots of (tropical) fruits trying to hide behind it. They can’t though, as the mango and apricots, as well as dry apple cider notes are just too pronounced. It also has a lovely grassy element and some nice floral notes (rose petals), followed by hints of raspberry candy cane and honey. Top notch. Taste: Creamy and full-bodied, and yes, it does have that classic Littlemill profile again. The cardboard makes an encore, as do the fruits, now with a more intense sweetness, courtesy of caramel and fudge notes, yet also with a citrus-like tartness. A hint of strawberry also, as well as candied oranges. Proper stuff, albeit with a slight amount of oak shavings. Finish: Soft spices and quite a bit of oak, before transforming into mellow green notes of freshly cut grass.
Score: 90 91
Easily a 90-pointer, probably a little bit higher too, but I like to err on the side of caution. Nah, scratch that — 91 points is very fair. Up there with the best that Littlemill has to offer.