Littlemill 20yo (1992/2012) Maltbarn

Divine grapefruit juice from
Scotland's oldest distillery

At last, the final lowlander on my list (let's just ignore Ladyburn, Glen Flager, Annandale, Ailsa Bay and Inverleven for a moment).
Didn't know what to expect, within the whisky community no consensus can be found on Littlemill. Some loath it as cod oil, others would sell their own children for a bottle. Thus it took me a while to gathered my courage and put in an order for some Littlemill. Easy to say, the search wasn't too hard, the market is literally being flooded with a wide variety of independent releases. One has to wonder how such a small distillery could leave a stock large enough to keep selling casks for decades after its demise at reasonable prices. (Diageo is probably just cheating us out of our money with their rare releases from lost distilleries like Port Ellen).

I'll admit, the distillery would probably never have won a beauty contest. Though its roots could be traced back to the 1750's, the buildings date back from the late  19th century, 1875 to be more precise.

www.whisky-distilleries.infoAs a small distillery, Littlemill never made much of a name for itself. In the 30's the new distillery owners abandoned the traditional triple distillation methods from the Lowlands and started experimenting with the copper and still shapes. As far as I know Littlemill was the original  birthplace of the Lomond Still, making the production of three different styles of whiskies possible: Dumbuck, Dunglas and Littlemill.

In the 80's like so many other distilleries Littlemill was swallowed whole by the whisky crisis. But strangely enough that  was not the end, from 1989 till 1994 the distillery was revived by the Gibson Internationale Group. During this short period, most of the casks you can still find today were produced. In hindsight, the distillery seemed to have been in quite capable hands. 1994, the distillery had to close its doors for good, now in (possibly the worst possible) hands of the Glen Catrine Group, owners of Glen Scotia and Loch Lomond,who bought the stocks and left the distillery to decay by the elements. By the early 00's, the buildings had fallen into severe disrepair  and the grounds were repurposed for redevelopment, though a small group advocated for the preservation in the hope, it could one day be turned into a museum like Dallas Dhu.

In 2004, the remaining buildings met their finale demise as an all-consuming fire (cough, cough Lochside) erased every last trace of the distillery.


Nose: light, fruity and a bit oily: notes of lemon cream, marzipan, a tad of vanilla, a layer of fruit: rhubarb, gooseberries and tangerines, finishing with a whiff of stone dust.


Mouth: light and waxy body with just one note on the palate: pink grapefruit (amazing): bitter, hot and burning.


Finish: long and drying, with notes bitter oranges and oak




The Verdict

With a nose similar to Rosebank and a palate bearing resemblance to Lochside, this is a most amazing dram. I was simply blown away by the powerful taste that came after the light nose. A straightforward dram, no overabundance of different flavours and aromas to discover, elegant in its simplicity.
The palate just doesn't simply taste like grapefruit, if someone had told me he made a cocktail with its juice, I would have believed him. Great stuff, this tastes like more.