It’s been just 18 months since Lochlea Distillery launched its first whisky, but they certainly haven’t rested on their laurels. This new Lowlander has since brought a whole array of whiskies to market, not the least of which is the new(-ish) Lochlea Cask Strength Batch 1.
Before today, I’d only reviewed two of the distillery’s expressions – the Lochlea First Release and Lochlea Ploughing Edition. But the distillery has also done an entire series themed around the different farming seasons, which makes sense for a single-estate distillery. And certainly, the permanent addition of the Lochlea Our Barley was a milestone for the distillery as well.
But every self-respecting whisky distillery should also have a high-strength release, which Lochlea hadn’t until a few months ago. That situation is now rectified in the form of the Lochlea Cask Strength Batch 1, aged in first-fill ex-bourbon casks (70%) and ex-Oloroso sherry casks (30%).
Of course, John Campbell, the distillery’s master blender, has some thoughts on his latest creation:
“Here at Lochlea we are passionate about the quality and traceability of our whiskies and this is reflected in every stage of our whisky-making process. From our own barley fields surrounding the distillery and our traditional wooden washbacks, to our sourcing of the finest casks available and racked warehouse storage, there are absolutely no compromises on our quality.
“Our new Cask Strength whisky enables this quality to shine through in every dram, showing an amplified version of our signature Lochlea style for those whisky-lovers looking for an extra special something: a bold, yet elegant spirit made with a contemporary approach alongside respected traditions.”
I too, have some thoughts on the Lochlea Cask Strength Batch 1. In the form of tasting notes, of course.
Lochlea Cask Strength Batch 1 (60.1%, OB, 2023)
Nose: There’s a pleasant maltiness alongside crisp apples, touches of warm vanilla sauce and stewed pears. Slightly perfumed, floral notes at times, alongside jammy redcurrants and cherry-flavoured candy canes. Taste: Slightly aggressive with peppery spice taking a front-row seat. There’s a noticeable nuttiness here. Toasted hazelnut, macadamia, and the like. Whispers of green apple and pear skin too, but water brings out slightly sweeter elements. Vanilla custard, some sultanas. Finish: Medium length with a distinct grassiness and some toffee.
It's hard to pull off young spirit at cask strength. While certainly palatable, this clearly has some ways to go before it'll be a well-rounded single malt. Playing around with water is worth the effort, if not almost obligatory.