Littlemill – 23yo 1992 Whisky Broker
(Distilled 16/3/92, bottled 24/8/15, hogshead #493, 228 bottles, 53.8%)
Littlemill is one of a number of lost distilleries in the Lowlands, and perhaps one of the saddest as it had a decent claim to being the oldest malt whisky distillery in Scotland. Precise dates seem hard to come by, but it was certainly well into its third century of operation when the stills fell silent in 1994. Happily it’s still possible to – occasionally – find bottlings at non-obscene prices, but this won’t always be the case. Maybe that recent official 25-year-old bottling – a snip at £2000 – is a taste of the future. Just look at the current prices of distilleries that closed in the decade before Littlemill like Port Ellen and Brora and resolve to try some when you can, and while you can.
Nose: At first very heavy on dried fruits, nuts (walnut whips) and fudge. Lots of fudge. With water it gets more fruity: orange zest and little tropical passionfruit hints. There’s quite a lot of vanilla, some freshly-mown hay, and a very distinct (and slightly soapy) note of incense / patchouli developing. It really does change and open up a lot in the glass.
Taste: The mouthfeel is very viscous and oily. The taste is very similar to the nose, only with toffee rather than fudge, and more waxy lemon and grain notes. A little bit of orange squash, and an interesting earthy/nutty undercurrent: half marzipan, half window putty.
Finish: Grape seeds! Crunching on seeded black grapes. There’s lots of grainy malt, barley sugar and little touches of citrus (lemon sherbet). I swear I occasionally get a little salty / savoury note too – nori seaweed? A little bit odd, maybe, but it all hangs together well.
A really interesting Littlemill! Big, bold and a bit quirky – certainly not one of those light and zesty Lowlanders. Hopefully there’ll be a few more casks like this to come before us mortals get priced out of the market.