A Trio Of Organic Whiskies
How about some very responsible, organic whiskies for a change? All three of today’s whiskies are certified by the Soil Association, UK’s leading food and farming charity and organic certification body.
So what does that actually mean? Well, for one, the malted barley must be grown without chemical fertilisers and with only restricted use pesticides. The yeast employed for fermentation must also have Soil Association certification.
As far as I understand, there’s no specific requirement for the casks that are used. Although, I do know that the wood used for virgin oak casks for the Benromach Organic, is grown in sustainably managed forests in Missouri.
Today however, I’ll be taking a closer look at three other organic whiskies. One is a blend called Highland Harvest Seven Casks, which is made up of… seven casks of Highland whisky. And that’s really all I know.
I also picked two organic whiskies from Loch Lomond. Both were released in 2013, right before the distillery was taken over by the new owners. Because Loch Lomond produces both malt and grain whisky, they can actually make a single blend: a blended whisky from one distillery. The other Loch Lomond is an organic single malt whisky.
Nose: Lots of grain, with a light and grassy fruitiness. Some white grapes, ripe apples and a whiff of vanilla. After a while a sour beer-like aroma pops up. Or maybe even baby puke. Not good. Farmy too, but not in a good way.
Taste: Sweet, as in how wort is very sugary, and sour, like crisp, sour apples. Slightly spicy with a hint of nutmeg and pepper. Lacks complexity.
Finish: Ripe apples, apple peel and malt. Short.
Nose: Glue to start, accompanied by a whisper of smoke. Now lots of melted butter and a fair amount of vanilla, but also lemon zest and lavender.
Taste: A hint of cardboard, quickly followed icing sugar, vanilla and caramel. Finally there’s some apple peel and bitter oranges.
Finish: Lingers on fruit, slightly bitter. Medium in length.
Nose: Extremely grassy, with a touch of wet cardboard as well. Some Werther’s Original, but deliciously fruity as well. There’s definitely some pink grapefruit and lime in here. It reminds of Littlemill a bit, but with more vanilla. Not very complex though.
Taste: Very creamy mouthfeel. Sweet brown sugar at first, but then the fruitiness takes over. Pink grapefruit for sure, as well as some lemon zest. There’s the cardboard again, but also some white pepper. This is indeed very Littlemill-esque.
Finish: Fruit, mainly. On the shorter side.
The Highland Harvest is not at all for me. But the Loch Lomonds were a marked improvement after that false start. While the Single Blend is still not all that, I really enjoyed the Single Malt. I’m betting quite a bit of it was distilled in those straight-necked pot stills, similar to the ones that were used in the now defunct Littlemill distillery.
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.