Monday, 13 October 2014

Tasting Notes: Lochside 1981 (Lombards, 23 Years Old, Sherry Cask, 50% ABV)

     Delving into my notebook, I've found another dram that stood out from my journey to Las Vegas.   In sifting through some of the shelves in the bars I visited, once in a while a fantastic dram would appear right before my eyes. In this instance it was a rare dram indeed, a Lombard 1981 from the fabled Lochside distillery. 

    Lochside was closed by the Macnab Distillers Ltd in 1992, and produced both malt whisky and grain whisky through its life.  The distillery itself was levelled, and turned into housing in 2004-2005 era, and has therefore become a lost dram. The few bottles that can be found tend to have the 'lost distillery' price tag attached to them.

  The Lombard brand is a more recent addition to the LCBO shelves (which are severely lacking in independent bottlers), netting us some fantastic single cask selections; but also some fantastically high prices in many cases.  I have tried the Macallan 14 that was released by Lombard, as well as a 21 year old Clynelish, a Balmenach, and even a Teaninch.  One of the best 'traditional' Rosebanks I have ever had came from a Lombard's bottle as well.  This jewel of Scotland has been bottled from stock that was distilled slightly before the doors shut for good on the old Lochside distillery. Served without the addition of colour, without the need for chill-filtration, and with a hefty 50% ABV; this is what malt drinkers search high and low for.  Let's see what the notes reveal about this relic:

Colour: Autumn Gold (How's that for a colour?); It's wonderful golden yellow with both hints of mahogany and tinges of ruby.

Body:  A single roll shows medium body.  Drops form slowly and run slowly; if at all.  Almost seems clingy to the point of being oily.

Nose:  Rich! Super rich malty nose with a huge whack of fruits!  There is a musty note like a damp library, but it doesn't detract from the malt's richness, instead amplifying it.  There is a lot of wood here, not new wood, but old oak with wood polish and ancient must lumber too.  The fruits are a combination of many things, macerated/stewed purple fruits (think plums and strawberries), over ripe almost rotten fruit (those raspberries that were on the counter too long), and hints of dark dried plums.

Palate:  The richness doesn't stop here.  Rich warmth of malt and stewed fruits take centre stage, the malt playing second fiddle isn't to be missed either.  The wood spice almost dances between, offering sharp punches to break up that rich spirit.  Lots of wood spice through the mid-palate, cinnamon, clove, mace, cardamom and the like.  There are some dark notes of raisin and something different, like long pepper or a hint of truffle in the background.

Finish: Velvety and long, this goes on for quite some time.  Richness doesn't seem to subside, but more sherry-vanilla creme comes out now.  The sherry wood almost dominates the finish, but there is an interesting poached pear note here too.  Worked leather, library dust and wonderful soft oak wrap up a lush dram.

Empty Glass:  I was so over occupied with my other notes (and the lights of Las Vegas!), I missed most of the empty glass.  I recall a lot of wood notes, more of the damp library and over worked sherry.  Things you don't smell any more; things that are earmarks of old whisky.

    This was an immensely enjoyable dram, one from a distillery who's heritage is all but forgotten.  This was made even more enjoyable by the company of my friends in a far away place (Vegas is far enough away from Toronto).  Lombard bottles seem to be typically good whisky, but the price varies greatly on them.  I'd strongly suggest searching some out and trying them if you can.  And as for Lochside; it's a wonderfully fruity dram and should you have the chance to taste one, it's worth seeking out.

     I'm still rummaging through my sample drawer and have yet to write up some drams, but I have a couple of notebooks filled with some interesting drams too.  I'll see what I can draft up for next time, and I can guarantee you that you won't be disappointed!  Until next time folks:  Keep your stick on the ice, and the ice out of your glass.