Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Loch Lomond Whiskies. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Sponsoring this year’s Open Championship—the 150th in the oldest-running golf tournament’s history—was Loch Lomond Whiskies, a distillery based on the Lomond Estate in Alexandria, Scotland. For such a huge competition, which draws crowds as big as 300,000, the sponsored spirit naturally must be given serious consideration. On the one hand, it is imperative that the spirit embodies Scotland in both style and substance. On the other, with varied international visitors making up much of the 300,000, it would be wise to pick something with broad appeal.
Therefore, the R&A (the organization responsible for organizing the event; its name comes from a shortening of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrew which it evolved out of) selected the Loch Lomond 12-Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky, provided by Loch Lomond Whiskies. But was it the right choice? Let’s dive in and find out.
When it comes to representing Scottish tradition from a purely historical standpoint, there are certainly older distilleries. In fact, the original Loch Lomond Whiskies, which has since closed, relocated, and reopened in 1965, first set up shop in 1814. That’s a lead of 30 years or more for its peers like Glenturret, Strathisla, or Bowmore. Even so, a healthy 200-year history of distilling is more than ample time to carve out a place in the world of whisky, and today those three decades seem a mere trifle.
Loch Lomond Whiskies boasts a healthy cooperage program in addition to distilling. While many, indeed most, distilleries employ third-party coopers for their barrel purchases and repairs, Loch Lomond actually owns its own cooperage onsite in which they repair roughly 10,000 barrels per year. This is a luxury which can only be claimed by a handful of distilleries in all of Scotland.
Sometimes the repairs carried out in this facility are as simple as replacing the barrel’s metal bands to ensure a tight seal and minimize the angel’s share. Other times the tasks are more involved, like replacing entire staves or barrel ends. They have even invested in a re-charring machine which can be used to revitalize old barrels by toasting away the outer layer of the cask and exposing fresh oak.
All of that is well and good, and certainly reflects positively on Loch Lomond Whiskies. But the most important question of all has yet to be answered: what about the flavor? On that front, Loch Lomond 12-Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky comes through. Loch Lomond is located on the southern cusp of the northern Highlands, a region known for its characteristic peat profiles and wood-smoke notes.
Perhaps fittingly, this whisky flirts with peat but keeps the smokiness grounded with some sweeter and more savory notes. It combines influence from the different regional styles and comes away with a product that is both uniquely Scottish and fairly approachable, making it a fine choice for locals and visitors alike.
Tasting Notes: Loch Lomond 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Vital Stats: 46% ABV, aged 12 years in three different cask types (bourbon, refill, and recharred), non-chill filtered, ~$40/750ml
Appearance: A burnt orange hue colors this low-viscosity whisky.
Nose: The nose is rather harsh, but some intriguing notes hide under this front including fig, cranberry, and green apple.
Palate: Again, a punchy start conceals the complexity for the first few moments. Initial notes of pepper-jam, cooked sugar, and pear lead into a smoky marionberry-and-kelp finish that lingers without scorching the mouth.