Old Rhosdhu 1990 29 Years (WhiskyNerds)
Whenever the WhiskyNerds launch a new release I pay attention, whether it’s an Invergordon or a Springbank. These guys seem to have a nose (no pun intended) for picking good and even great whisky. When they announced they were going to bottle a single malt from Loch Lomond, over three years after their excellent Trias Usquebaugh series, I was very excited.
With such a strong track record, I’m bound to be disappointed sooner rather than later. And to be honest, while the Allt-a-Bhainne was good, it was way too expensive. Same for the Caol Ila. Indeed, at times the Whiskynerds’ bottlings don’t represent the best value for money. So, if I’d ask you if you’d pay well over 200 euro for an Old Rhoshdu, you’d probably laugh me out of the room. Does is help that it’s close to three decades in age? Probably. Or at least it explains the price a bit. Because good luck finding a Scottish single malt that old for much cheaper.
But still, Old Rhosdhu? I suppose it shows that you have to dig pretty deep as an independent bottler to unearth gems. It’s a style of single malt whisky no longer produced at Loch Lomond distillery and known for it’s fruity and floral characteristics. It was produced until 2002 and they’ve stopped using it in their blends and have now sold all of their stock.
Old Rhoshdu was distilled in Loch Lomond’s straigh-necked pot stills from unpeated barley and described as 1.5 times distilled, as it took a spirit cut from the wash still, which is believed to be why the nose is rather funky (as you’ll read in my tasting notes). The name Rhosdhu is still in use, but rather for the single grain produced by distilling 100% malted barley in a continuous still.
Old Rhosdhu 1990 29 Years (48.2%, WhiskyNerds, C#416)
Nose: Somewhat funky and off-beat at first, on the same sour/copper coin spectrum that Ben Nevis sometimes sits on. Whiffs of rhubarb as well as farmy notes, complemented by creamy vanilla, peeled apple parts and pear. It has a distinct note of rye bread and just a touch of aniseed, as well as a grassy bitterness.
Taste: This is where the Littlemill comparison makes much more sense. There’s even a cardboard note. It’s fruity (whiffs of mango and grapefruit), sweet and frankly very delicious, but also slightly spicy and with a touch of menthol tobacco. Somewhat grassy and with a touch of tarragon.
Finish: Old oak and a tad dry yet fruity and herbacious.
The nose and palate are worlds apart, but the latter sits somewhere between Littlemill and those really fruity late 1980s Irish malt whiskies. That’s a huge compliment. Peculiar at times and utterly moreish at once. Very unique and a bit of a Janus whisky, this Old Rhoshdu from the WhiskyNerds.
Sample provided by WhiskyNerds
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.