Malt of the Moment
Loch Lomond was founded in 1965 on the site of a former dye works, with production commencing the following year. In Scottish terms, it’s a relatively young distillery if we...
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Loch Lomond was founded in 1965 on the site of a former dye works, with production commencing the following year. In Scottish terms, it’s a relatively young distillery if we ignore the recent boom that has prompted a rapid expansion in distillery numbers. For such a youthful age, it’s already compiled an intriguing history since being established by the Littlemill distillery company who were owned at the time by Barton Brands and Duncan Thomas; both of whom feature in our Littlemill history page. Speaking of which, history shows that a Loch Lomond distillery existed on a different site and was founded in 1814, but has no links to this modern equivalent.
The Loch Lomond distillery started out life as a malt whisky distillery before in 1993 a Coffey still was installed on site enabling it to produce grain whisky. This makes Loch Lomond quite unique in Scotland, with only the recent addition of the Ailsa Bay distillery within the William Grant & Sons Girvan complex offering the same dual approach. There were grain distilleries such as Dumbarton and of course Girvan with its original malt distillery called Ladyburn, who have offered the convenience of distilling both types of spirit. Invergordon that was established in the 1960’s also setup a short-lived malt distillery as Ben Wyvis, but the trend until recently was focusing exclusively on a single type of spirit. Therefore, the fact that Loch Lomond started life as a malt distillery only to add a grain annexe in the 1990’s is unusual and it has a history of being self-sufficient along with doing things its own way.
Prior to this addition, the distillery was closed in 1984 due to the general downturn in demand that prompted many closures across the industry. This was a temporary blip with new owners resuming production in 1987 before expanding their plans into other types of whisky. A set of malts stills were added in 1999 and again in 2015, when a pair of additional Lomond stills was installed on site, allowing the characteristics of the new make spirit to be manipulated when required. The current make up of stills at Loch Lomond now comprises of 2 traditional pot stills, 6 stills with the Lomond dynamic and 3 continuous stills. Of this trio, just one is focused producing spirit via malted barley, whilst the remaining duo, distils traditional grain spirit. It’s a comprehensive set of options meaning Loch Lomond can produce what it wants and has a suggested annual capacity of 5 million litres for single malt and 18 million for grain, a large percentage of which goes towards the popular Glen vodka brand. Also underlining the self-sufficiency is the onsite cooperage – only 1 of 4 distilleries in Scotland can claim such a feat – ensuring a consistent approach to its casks.
For many years Loch Lomond was not a member of the Scotch Whisky Association, disputing some of the regulations, but the rift has been since healed. Part of the criticism levelled at Loch Lomond has been its whisky of variable quality and the endless array of brands that it once supported. A brief list of examples includes Crotengea, Craiglodge, Glen Douglass, Inchmurrin and of course Loch Lomond. The onslaught really commenced in 2005 and we’ve had an interest mix of whiskies and visual designs ever since that have not prompted much goodwill amongst enthusiasts. However, in order to compete with the larger distilleries, the company required a new level of investment which was provided in 2014 when Exponent Private Equity acquired the distillery. This has prompted a much-needed rebranding and condensing of the range since.
Nowadays the whisky range is focused around Loch Lomond and Inchmurrin. Both of these with shiny new designs offer various age statements and a more cohesive approach. The response has been more positive and the whisky generally well received, thanks partially due to the information provided and the general affordable price point. Loch Lomond also offers a single grain within its ranks and an overlooked component is known as Inchmoan that features a decent level of peat. The trend is upwards for Loch Lomond and its range of whiskies, regardless of the option you select. Assisted by a strong support from the independent sector and erasing its history of lacklustre whiskies, Loch Lomond has a new-found confidence.
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