Those of you following me on Instagram know I’ve been indulging in some rare Littlemill as of late, but not one as eye-catching as the recently released Littlemill 45 Years, commemorating the distillery’s 250th anniversary. Only 250 bottles were released worldwide, priced at £9,500.
When it comes to closed Lowland distilleries (and Littlemill in particular) I’ve been pretty spoiled. None more so than earlier this week, when I attended a Lowland Dinner hosted by Dutch importer De Monnik Dranken. While the Littlemill 45 Years wasn’t poured, attendees were treated to a lineup including this Littlemill, this Rosebank, another Rosebank and finally a new single cask Littlemill exclusively for the Netherlands. (I’m hoping to review the latter two on here soon as well.)
And because my whisky journey was coming of age when Littlemill was still affordable, I’ve reviewed quite a few independent releases as well. All this to say is that I’m fairly familiar with what Littlemill has to offer. What the spirit is like. And what I like about it. However, I’ve never tried a Littlemill close to as old as this one. And never one bottled at such a low strength either (even though it is cask strength).
The Littlemill 45 Years has been taken from a single distillation on 4th October 1976. It was re-casked in 1996 into American oak Hogsheads, before maturing in first-fill Oloroso sherry hogsheads for a final six months before bottling. I find it quite bold to apply just a short finish to such venerable liquid, but I also fully trust master blender Michael Henry, who has shown time and again that he clearly knows what he’s doing.
He said: “Littlemill was lost before its contribution to whisky could ever be fully acknowledged and applauded. However, we are lucky to have the remaining few casks under our care, a stone’s throw from where the original distillery once stood. It felt only right to mark this significant milestone with a very special limited release.”
Littlemill 45 Years 250th Anniversary (41.8%, OB, 2022)
Nose: Elegant and gentle with stewed apples, warm apple compote sprinkled with cinnamon, rosewater and lemon zest. There’s a hint of grapefruit too, as well as dried tea leaves and a characteristic whiff of cardboard. Finally just a whisper of honey. Taste: The diminished alcohol percentage notwithstanding, this has a proper creamy mouthfeel. Fantastically fruity arrival. More of that bright, zesty fruitiness already present on the nose, but also some light touches of red berries, golden syrup and nutmeg. Finish: Medium to long with white grapes, bitter grass. Somewhat dry and slightly herbacious there in the end.
My frame of reference for Littlemill are the late 1980s and early 1990s. This is almost like a polished version of that. More gentle, but at times surprising lively as well. I wouldn't necessarily say this 250th Anniversary Edition is better, but it introduces me to a different side of Littlemill, proving that it ages well.