lochlea distillery first release

First Look: Lochlea Distillery’s Inaugural Release

Lochlea Distillery have mostly been operating under the radar since it was founded in 2018, but soon their Scotch single malt whisky is finally launched. The inaugural release will be available next month.

The first-ever release consists of 7,000 bottles, half of which will be for the UK market. The other half will be distributed across 10 other markets in North America and Europe. Based in the Lowlands, the distillery will launch Lochlea First Release (as it will be called officially) in November.

The single malt of Lochlea Distillery is produced under the watchful eye of distillery manager Malcolm Rennie. He has 34 years of experience in the industry and has previously worked at Ardbeg, Bruichladdich and Kilchoman.

Lochlea First Release is bottled at 46% ABV and was matured in first-fill bourbon and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. The inaugural release will retail at about £50 per bottle.

Coincidentally, I just recently spoke to David Ferguson, the distillery’s Commercial Manager. We talked about a range of things, including Lochlea’s flavour profile. “We have a very long fermentation and a high, narrow cut point. We wanted it to be able to become mature rather quickly. The new make spirit is very juicy, bursting with oranges, pears, orchard fruits. It’s not the delicate, grassy, traditional Lowlands style.”

However, the distillery is currently making two different types of spirit. There’s the one described above, and another more suited to longer maturation. They’ll put that one away for at least 10 years or longer.

lochlea distillery exterior

Lochlea’s uniqueness also stems from the fact that it is a working farm. All of the required barley is grown in the fields surrounding the distillery. The only other distillery that currently grows all their own barley is Daftmill. But Lochlea Distillery produces about 10 times more (capacity of 200.000 litres) and is also putting in a malting floor, which will make them truly a one-of-a-kind distillery in Scotland.

In an interview with The Spirits Business, David added: “We’ve been quietly distilling, casking and maturing our liquid since 2018, and this is the first chance people will have to try Lochlea whisky. We cannot wait to see it opened, shared and enjoyed.

“A great deal of time, perseverance and attention to detail has gone into this first release to ensure it is as authentic to Lochlea as possible – nothing added and nothing taken away.”

The inaugural release will showcase the DNA of the Lochlea spirit, as will the first core expression, which is set to be released in early 2022. Following Lochlea’s first core range expression, they want to showcase their spirit in a few different ways.

“We might release a batch of a peated expression, or some of red wine casks we have. We want to show people the different directions we can go. There are two reasons for that. First, we’re still learning what our spirit can do. But secondly, it allows people to give us feedback.”

There’ve been quite a few inaugural releases of new distilleries in the past few years. For example, check out my review of Dornoch Distillery Cask #1, Waterford 1st Cuvée Pilgrimage and Torabhaig 2017 Inaugural Release.

lochlea distillery casks warehouse

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