Single Grain

A Trio of Loch Lomond Whiskies


This past September, the Loch Lomond Group brought a large part of its whisky portfolio to the United States market.  Today, we’re looking at two Loch Lomond blended whiskies alongside a single grain bottling.  

The Loch Lomond Group currently owns two distilleries: Loch Lomond in the Highlands and Glen Scotia in Campbeltown.  Something interesting about the Loch Lomond is it’s setup of stills.  It has a pair of standard pot stills.  Then, it has three pairs of pot stills with rectifiying heads as well as a continuous still.  The distillery only uses that column still to distill malted barley, which is what Loch Lomond Single Grain is made of.  It’s not a single malt, because single malts can only be distilled in pot stills.

Let’s talk about the three whiskies this post is featuring.  We’ll start with the cheapest – Loch Lomond Reserve.  At $19, Loch Lomond Reserve is a standard blend of malt and grain whiskies, married in re-charred oak casks.  It’s bottled at 40%, and tastes like a standard blend.  The nose has hints of light toffee, some floral and grain notes, and a touch of vanilla.  The entry is soft, and follows the nose closely: some grain, caramel, heather and vanilla.  The finish is short and soft, leaving behind a semi-sweet toasted grain note.  There’s not much going on with this one.  It’s not a bad blend.  Rather, it’s an easy-going blended whisky that’s probably meant for people wanting to get into whisky for cheap. 6/10

Up next is Loch Lomond Signature, which is priced $2 higher than Loch Lomond Reserve for $21.  If you’re looking for a decent blended whisky to start your whisky journey, I’d bypass the Reserve completely and reach for Signature as it tastes a bit more expensive than it actually is.  This blend is married in a 100 cask solera system, combining recharged Oloroso Sherry casks and American oak casks.  The still-soft nose is fruiter thanks to those sherry casks, featuring stewed fruit, raisins, some vanilla cream and buttered toast.  Loch Lomond Signature is also bottled at 40% abv.  The palate is still soft, but not as subtle as the cheaper Reserve.  Vanilla cream, berries, raisins, and light brown sugar make up the majority of flavors.  There is also a touch of young grain and spice.  The short finish features a touch of spice and stewed fruit.  7/10

Lastly is Loch Lomond Single Grain, bottled at 46% and priced at $29.  I appreciate the higher abv.  Like I mentioned before, this single grain release is made with 100% malted barley distilled in a column still instead of a pot still.  That is the only thing keeping this from being called a single malt.  On the nose, I get fresh cereal grains, ground cinnamon, and a touch of vanilla.  Taste-wise, there’s pineapple upside-down cake, vanilla, granny smith apples, lemon zest, and a bit of vanilla ice cream.  The finish features some spice along with orchard fruits and vanilla cream. 7/10

These releases are pretty standard.  I’d skip Loch Lomond Reserve and stick to Loch Lomond’s Signature and Single Grain releases.  Both are a lot more interesting in their own way, and are very affordable.
Thanks to Loch Lomond for the samples.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Trinity of Teeling Whiskey

Kicking off a small Irish whiskey series here on AdventuresInWhiskey.com, we take a look at the trinity of releases from  Teeling Whiskey Co.  Owners Stephen and Jack Teeling not only have Irish whiskey running through their veins, it flows through their family blood line.  See, back in the late 1700s, a Teeling was distilling whiskey in Dublin.

In recent times, John Teeling, Stephen and Jack’s father, founded the Cooley distillery in the 1980s.  The brothers learned all they could about the whiskey business.  However, when the distillery was purchased by Beam in 2012, Stephen and Jack sold their Cooley shares and used the money to start an independent distilling company – the first new Dublin distillery in a very long time.  That company was given the family name – Teeling Whiskey Co.

The brothers brought in distiller and micro-brewer Alex Chasko from Oregon to help with distillation.  While the company is currently distilling whiskey, it’s not mature enough to actually be called Irish whiskey.  Like Scotch, Irish whiskey must age a minimum of three years and a day to carry the name.

In the meantime, Teeling has sourced some whiskey from a distillery they know well – the Cooley distillery.  Though the company sells other expressions, their core range is built upon three whiskies: a Small Batch, Single Grain and Single Malt.  Let’s take a look.

Photo courtesy of Teeling Whiskey Co.

Photo courtesy of Teeling Whiskey Co.

Teeling Small Batch

A blend of malt and grain whiskey, Teeling Small Batch comes non-chill filtered and bottled at 46%.  The primary maturation takes place in ex-bourbon casks.  The blend is then finished in ex-rum casks for six months.

The nose starts off slightly harsh and rum-sweet.  After a few moments, the alcohol vapors disappear and make room for sweet grain, clove honey and spiced vanilla.  On entry, lovely vanilla ice cream mingles with malted grain and a touch of oak.  A bit of baking spice shows up towards the end and well into the sweet finish.

Teeling Small Batch is a great blended Irish whiskey.  I like the subtle touch the rum cask finishing adds.  This is a solid blend that has a great mouthfeel and is flatout fun to drink.  Pour a glass and enjoy.

8/10

Teeling Single Grain

Single grain whiskey means there is an absence of malted barley in the mash bill. In the case of this Teeling Single Grain, the majority is made of corn.  Grain whiskey is usually lighter in style when compared to malt whiskey.  This expression is finished in California Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels for an unknown period of time.  Like other Teeling whiskies, this one is un-chill filtered and bottled at 46% abv.

The nose is sweet and fruity thanks to the predominately corn makeup and wine finish.  Taste-wise, the wine finish is apparent.  This whiskey is full of big fruity red wine notes.  There’s a bit of spicy oak underneath, adding a little balance to the fruit flavors.  The finish is shorter and drier than the Small Batch.  It features a nice spiciness I wish were in the palate.

Grain whiskey is very delicate, and a cask finish can quickly overpower the whiskey’s character.  I think that’s what has happened here.  The wine cask finish has overtaken any whiskey notes instead of complimenting them.  This whiskey has very nice flavors, but I wished the wine notes would take a back seat to the whiskey.  That said, the wine finish does add richness to what might have been a bland grain whiskey.  If you go into this whiskey knowing that, you’ll enjoy this expression.

7.5/10

Teeling Single Malt

Here’s something you don’t see everyday.  Teeling Single Malt is a blend of malt whiskies aged in five types of wine casks:  Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon.  There’s no age statement here, but for what it’s worth this expression contains whiskey aged up to 23 years.

The nose for Teeling Single Malt is sweet and fruity, just not as much as their Single Grain release.  There’s a nice combination of candied berries and dried fruit alongside cereal grains, creamy toffee and some vanilla.  A bit of bright citrus pops up as well.  The full-bodied palate is similar to the nose, with malt, dried fruit and lemon rind proving to be the dominant flavors.  Honey adds some sweetness.  Astringent oak lurks in the background, as it adds to the layers here instead of overpowering them.  The finish is the longest of the three, carrying a honeyed fruit sweetness.

Teeling Single Malt is my favorite of the three expressions.  It’s the most complex and palate-pleasing to me.  The malted barley really holds up well to the wine barrel maturation.  Very nice.

8.5/10
(Note: Review samples were provided by Teeling Whiskey Co.)