Loch Lomond 17yo Organic (54.9%, OB, First Fill Bourbon Casks, L2 120 18, 30.04.2018)

After all those unhealthy and environmentally unfriendly products we have been putting into our bodies, finally some Organic Single Malt Whiskies start to emerge onto the market sporadically. The first Organic Malt I reviewed on these pages was an Organic Bruichladdich, This Loch Lomond is just the second. I have checked my stash, but I could only find a 12yo Organic Loch Lomond and a 14yo and a 15yo Organic Deanston, and that’s about it, no more. I should investigate if there are some more to get. I know there were a few Springbanks and some (young) Benromachs, but beyond that, who knows? Apart from the Deanston’s, this is the only well aged one out there. I did some quick and dirty research, so don’t expect something very deep now, but Nc’Nean also has Organic Whisky in its portfolio, but after that, its mostly American made Whisk(e)y that is also organic. Quite surprising from the land of fast food and a huge overweight problem. Wall-e was no joke. And before you start sending me hate-mail, or even worse, Will Smith, I’m quick to add that I am overweight as well. The Organic Bruichladdich was young and simple, easy, yet tasty. Scored rather high, since it was a high quality Malt, but could have done with some more ageing. Well, if you are after a better aged Organic Malt, than a 17yo Loch Lomond is quite a step up! Yes Loch Lomond, ahhh no, please no, you’re not going to talk about a certain Captain now, don’t you? Well, OK, let’s not. I’ll finish off this introduction with the fun fact that this was distilled in a combination of a swan neck and a straight neck pot stills.

Color: Light gold.

Nose: Barley, dusty and woody. Classic Bourbon casked Single Malt Whisky nose. Sure, we’ll throw in Organic as well, although I have no clue whatsoever how “Organic” is supposed to taste. Smells very clean and honest. Artisanal. A bit sweetish as well, resembling, bot only in a small part, a Grain Whisky. A nice combination of dust, wax and light citrus skin notes. Fruity and lively. In a way delicate and also a bit old skool. Soft wood, mocha and slightly spicy. Light smell of an old aired out, weathered, stock cube. All nice and well integrated. Better now than when freshly opened. Sometimes a short soapy whiff passes by. After a while in my glass even more balance is reached between a waxy note that got company from some peanuts and more fruits. By far, the best smelling Loch Lomond I ever had. You probably think it’s the only Loch Lomond I ever had, but this is not the case. Not at all. Especially nice when you are of an older generation, like me, and remember the old stuff filled from an Ex-Bourbon cask. A classic. The spicy notes in this nose are just excellent, especially when this is sniffed outside. Fresh air helps this one along quite a bit. Great stuff for sure.

Taste: Sweet on entry, The spicy notes from the nose are right up front here as well. Grassy and wonderful. Here it is a bit accompanied by some licorice. Creamy yet also a bit hot. A slight metallic note, reminding me of Tormore. In fact, if I would have tasted this one blind, I would have probably thought this was a Tormore. Tormore distillates in casks like these perform rather well IMHO. Similar spices too. Both this and such Tormore’s bring a smile to my face. These suit me very well, but that is a personal thing, and might not be true for you. Again, what an amazing balance this Whisky has. Nothing short of a must-have for me. Perfect for some quiet me time (and a book). After the first sip, the nose develops even more in the cavity of your mouth. Good quality stuff this one. Amazing, remember the times when Loch Lomond had this awful reputation, well they certainly managed to turn that around with this one. Well done! Medium body with all these wonderful woody, spicy and woody aroma’s. The ABV of almost 55% carries this Whisky beautifully. Really good stuff. Must find me another one.

This Whisky is very good. When consumed carelessly, often within a flight of other Whiskies, I didn’t pick up on the all the wonderful bits this Whisky has on offer. When reviewing it, it is usually reviewed on its own (on occasion H2H with another somewhat similar example for comparison). For obvious reasons, one tends to give the subject a lot of attention when reviewing. So, when this is given your full attention, this Whisky reveals a lot more than meets the eye at first. It deserves to have your full attention and you might also give it some time to breathe and you’ll be able to pick up on some delicate and wonderful old skool classy aroma’s. Recommended.

Points: 89

Spirit of Hven Backafallsbyn “Organic Gin” (40%, OB, Sweden)

Avid followers know that in october, Master Quill likes to go to the Whisky Show in London, England. Up ’till now there has always been something that really surprises. A few years back Tomatin surprised with a lot of non-1976 bottlings. Another year, a lot of offerings from Benromach were a discovery, and this year (2015) was the year of Indian Distiller Paul John. Especially their single cask bottlings were stellar. Even a Boutique-y Paul John was fantastic! However, hidden in a corner of the room, next to the coffee stand near the entrance, were three Swedes. They didn’t even had a real stand, but they used a cask as a table and put some Erlenmeyer flasks with colored stuff on top. I have to say, I met some driven and passionate people doing the Spirit of Hven. Spirit of Hven is not only a distillery, but it is also a hotel, a restaurant, Whisky bar and chemistry lab! Mad scientist with a passion for booze? I like that! So apart from Paul John, the discovery of the year was this Spirit of Hven Gin. Go figure!

Gin is an interesting product, since Gin can be made rather quickly, you don’t have to wait ages to see how it turns out. Nice stuff to experiment with and make it personal, by thinking up and combining different botanicals. This Gin has its obvious basis of Swedish Juniper and citrus. Other botanicals include Grains of Paradise, Aniseed, Calamus Root, Mauritian Bourbon Vanilla, Cassia bark, Cardamom, Sichuan Pepper and Guinea Pepper (dried fruit), not to be confused with Grains of Paradise which is also known as Guinea Pepper (ground seed). The Gin is oak aged prior to the final distillation, so the influence of wood is another ingredient.

HVEN Organic GinColor: Clear water.

Nose: Laid back and sweet-smelling juniper. Toned down by some sweet carrots and hidden vanilla. You know it’s there but somehow in disguise. Soft vanillin from wood maybe? Sure it is a Gin, with juniper and citrus, like all, but in here the combination smells excellent yet different. The sharpness is shaven off by the hidden vanilla and the promise of sweetness. A bit like a Gin Liqueur, although this might not be sweet tasting at all. Next some grain, black tea and dried grass. It’s still a Gin, so not extremely complex, but this one is so well-balanced. It’s hard to put down and stop smelling. Very soft and mellow with a nice floral touch and some sweet spices and soft wood to finish it off. Pine forest (floor) after autumn rain.

Taste: The first sip is of sweet grain and paper. The basis is there. It has notes of Vodka, a very smooth and soft Vodka. Next come the juniper, sweet oaky vanilla and well-integrated soft citrus note as well as a hint of caramel. Towards the finish we’re most definitely in the territory of sweet licorice. Laurel licorice. It’s a honeyed kind of sweetness, so more depth than sugary sweet. I use “sweet” a lot, but let me assure you that this comes nowhere near Gin Liqueur and not even an Old Tom. The finish has quite a bit of length and finally it leaves you with a nice anise and licorice aftertaste. Wonderful sipping Gin.

This is the first Gin on these pages and for a long time there was a good reason for that. Gin usually winds up in a cocktail or in a Gin-and-Tonic and I am a drinker and taster of Spirits. When Gin gained popularity the last few years I obviously got the chance to try some very nice Gin-and-Tonics, the way I like my Gin the best. It all went wrong when I started trying Gins by themselves. Nipping them, say, like a Whisky. Well, I can assure you, Gin is no Whisky! So Gin seemed to be not for nipping, so I left it alone for a while. I did find some nice Gins though, that worked well in Gin-and-Tonics. Hendricks with Fever Tree is nice, but Zuidam aged Gin with Indi Tonic, was a lot better. The Zuidam aged Gin was the first Gin I liked by itself, so I decided not to give up on Gin (as a sipper) yet. And then I encountered this Organic Gin. Wonderful stuff. With this one I never got passed the sipping stage, it’s that good. I do hope I have enough left to try it with Tonic though. Recommended!

Points: 78 (and believe me, that is a lot of points for a Gin by itself)

Benromach 2008/2014 “Organic” (43%, OB, Virgin Oak)

Not really a NASser since this is a vintage 2008 bottling. We also know this was bottled in 2014 so it is a 5yo or 6yo. Benromach doesn’t like hide its Whiskies in a shroud of mystery. Of course I love an aptly named Whisky but I was brought up with age statements so I like to (officially) know what I’m getting. Maybe all those NASsers are for a younger, more hip, generation? We’ll see. This “Organic” was distilled in 2008 and filled into virgin oak casks, just like they do with Bourbon spirit. Don’t worry, this will not turn this Whisky into a bourbon since only malted barley was used, and no corn nor rye. Why not make a rye Whisky then Benromach, wouldn’t that be something different and exiting?

Benromach Organic 2008Color: Gold

Nose: Yes woody. Sawdust, but also vanilla and warm vanilla pudding. Custard. I would say American Oak, wouldn’t you? Sugary sweet. The apparent sweetness is balanced out with some spicy oak, but not all oak is spicy, it also has a sappy oak quality to it. Sweet barley. Given some time, (when the taste becomes waxy), the nose tuns more floral. Floral with sandalwood.

Taste: Sweet at first, then vanilla and a more fruity note. Still all sugared fruits. Behind that the oak comes in again, but it’s not all wood alas, The wood also emits a cardboardy taste. Luckily that is soon exchanged with the sappy oak. That sappy oak turn a bit waxy and that in turn becomes a bitter edge into the finish. The bitterness also has some staying power. The finish is rather austere, so its quite different from the sweet start. The florality and waxiness of the nose, becomes also evident in the aftertaste.

For a Whisky this age and only new wood was used, this has already picked up a lot of color (as do Bourbons). Nosing and tasting this Whisky it really is what you may have expected. A Whisky that is defined by the use of new wood. Otherwise quite sweet and obviously not very complex, but more than expected.

Points: 82