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Whisky Review Round Up: The Lost Distillery Company (Towiemore, Jericho, Lossit)

Lost Distillery Company

image via Joshua St. John/The Whiskey Wash

Editor’s Note: Samples of these whiskies were provided to us by those behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, keeps full independent editorial control over this article.

Distilleries come and go. It can be difficult to imagine given the current resurgence of the global whisky industry in general, but there are a great many distilleries which formerly dotted the Scottish landscape that have simply ceased to be. For some of the more recent closures, bottlings of original creations still exist. Yet other labels are gone forever as historical footnotes from ages past. For The Lost Distillery Company, this created an opportunity.

The Lost Distillery Company began operations in 2012. The independent bottler describes themselves as a “boutique Scotch producer” who seeks to “…[create] handcrafted whiskies inspired by and based on blends from long-forgotten distilleries.” What this translates to is a series of releases bearing the names of distilleries which have closed in days (or many years, rather) gone by.

The Classic Selection Range offered by The Lost Distillery Company includes Towiemore, Jericho, and Lossit amongst others. It should be noted that Jericho is labeled and marketed under the name Benachie in the U.S., whereas the U.K. edition and the version reviewed here are labeled as Jericho. Other than the labeling, the releases remain identical.

There is much to note when discussing The Lost Distillery Company, as caveats are plentiful. Chiefly, none of the whiskies bottled as or used in the creation of whiskies from The Lost Distillery Company originate from the distilleries on the labels themselves. Instead, the company has partnered with Professor Michael Moss of the University of Scotland for his expertise as an archivist and Scotch whisky historian in order to research certain distilleries for the sake of attempting a recreation of their products. Based on information regarding stills, wood selection, location, and various other signature portions of distillation methods, The Lost Distillery Company claims to create blends which approximate whiskies of yesteryear.

With the three whiskies reviewed here, The Lost Distillery company does not use chill filtering. Additionally, all three bottlings are blends of five to 10 individual single malt whiskies from varying Scottish distilleries. As they have no grain spirits included in the blend, all three are classified as blended malt Scotch whiskies.

Tasting Notes: The Lost Distillery Company Towiemore

As a distillery, The Lost Distillery Company states that Towiemore operated in Speyside from 1898 until 1931. The reason for its closure was that blenders stopped purchasing from the distillery on account of lime in the water supply influencing the whisky.

Vital Stats: 43% ABV (86 proof), no age statement, 100% malted barley, available at a suggested retail price of $43 per 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: Appearance: Golden yellow periphery with deep amber in the center of the glass. Quick legs.

Nose: Floral and woody notes with a prickle of alcohol right off the bat. The nose takes on a powdery, soft sweetness as it opens. Nutty sweetness. Cinnamon roasted almonds. Sunflower seeds. Charred oak. Slightly sour sweetness like a freshly punctured peach skin.

Palate: Sweet and loaded with spices, but not spicy. Ground cinnamon, crystallized ginger, bubbling sugar caramelizing in a cast iron skillet. Salted butter. A full and round mouthfeel transitioning into a gentle yet full finish. More of a warmth than a burn. Drinks very easily. Lingering sweet notes of hard butterscotch candy and peanut butter taffy with seasoned salt and white pepper.

Final Thoughts & Score: 

Score: 82/100

My first and last thought on the dram was that it was suitably well-balanced and sips easily. There is not a tremendous amount of depth, but for the price point it is a reasonable buy.

Tasting Notes: The Lost Distillery Company Jericho

According to The Lost Distillery Company, the Jericho distillery operated from 1822 until 1884 when it changed names to Benachie. Operations continued in northern Scotland near the town of Insch until 1913. The isolated nature of the north proved to be the label’s ultimate undoing.

Vital Stats: 43% ABV (86 proof), no age statement, 100% malted barley, available at a suggested retail price of $43 per 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: Amber and peach hues with strong, lingering, oily legs.

Nose: Big, bold malt notes on the front end. Soft fruit, bran flakes with raisins, brown sugar, and oak. Cream cheese cake frosting.

Palate: Soft flavors on the first sip. They almost seem muted following the maltiness of the nose. I was expecting more flavor. Subtle notes of oak and vanilla, like chewing on a popsicle stick after finishing a cream pop. Finish is long, but very soft. The burn is subtle, and the finish is better categorized as an aftertaste.

Final Thoughts & Score: 

Score: 78/100

I found the Jericho bottling to be far too subtle for my taste. I would say the flavors are better described as muted. “Subtle” is being more charitable. Overall, it is indistinct and forgettable. Perhaps a fair mixer, though that would seem to be missing the point.

Tasting Notes: The Lost Distillery Company Lossit

The Lost Distillery Company states that Lossit was established in 1817 by Malcolm MacNeil on the island of Islay. Like Benachie before it, the isolation of the distillery lead to difficulties in distribution. By 1867, the distillery was out of business.

Vital Stats: 43% ABV (86 proof), no age statement, 100% malted barley, available at a suggested retail price of $43 per 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: Very light yellow straw. Medium legs.

Nose: Malty and lightly smoky. Charred oak, banana bread, hint of pipe tobacco and soft leather. Sweet and slightly ashy.

Palate: Sweet and smoky, just as advertised by the nose. Full malt presence in the palate. Vanilla bean ice cream with charred pie crust and cigar smoke. The finish seamlessly transitions into the spicy while still sweet, with hard ginger candy and black pepper.

Final Thoughts & Score:

Score: 82/100

The presentation strikes me as immediately reminiscent of younger Laphroaig with a sweet and smokey one-two punch. The sweet tended to take over the palate with subsequent sips, however. Decent if not altogether phenomenal.

The Takeaway:

It is difficult to find major fault in the blends produced by The Lost Distillery Company when taken for what they truly are. As blended whiskies, they are competent and fairly tasty. The challenge comes in rationalizing the marketing behind the brand. And make no mistake; this is marketing. It oftentimes seems that the whisky industry operates on almost equal parts grain, water, wood, and nostalgia. The Lost Distillery Company understands this well.

We all know that one whisky drinker who enjoys nothing more than to trash a current dram as being “not as good as it used to be.” With The Lost Distillery Company, the frame of reference for these comparisons is all but erased. The distilleries bearing the names of these blends have passed out of relevance as much as they have ceased production. Today, there are a few labels in circulation which actually were produced at distilleries which have been mothballed. For anyone in search of a pure taste of yesteryear with the bank account to support it, those bottlings hold a much more genuine experience. In the releases reviewed here, the consumer is gifted an interesting history lesson accompanied by somewhat less intriguing scotch which has little to no actual relationship with the distillery named on the bottle.

Perhaps I am a bit cynical on this. Maybe it is years and years of Hollywood movies which claimed to be “based on a true story” that have left me rolling my eyes against claims of authenticity which are inherently unfalsifiable. When it comes right down to it, The Lost Distillery Company spends significantly more time telling me what this whisky is not rather than what it really is.

To paraphrase Tenacious D, this is not the greatest whisky in the world.

No. This is just a tribute.

About the author

Joshua St. John

When not sampling whiskey, Joshua St. John can most likely be found running the trails of the Pacific Northwest surrounding his home in Portland, Oregon. A lifelong world-traveler, Joshua was first introduced to single malts while visiting distilleries in Scotland, and continues to explore the world through the countless interpretations of his favorite spirit.