Loch Lomond Inchmurrin 12-Year-Old and 18-Year-Old comparison

Loch Lomond Inchmurrin 12-Year-Old 46% ABV NIS 239
Loch Lomond Inchmurrin 18-Year-Old 46% ABV NIS 419


I picked these two bottles up at the "Wine and Flavours" store in Ramat Gan. Jabotinsky Street 4, inside the Petrol Station. It has a wonderful selection of single malts there and Osher, the store manager is very friendly and more knowledgable in whisky than any other store here in Israel I know. Please aware that although the store is closed on Shabbat and Festivals, it does sell Non-Kosher wine and there are Non-Kosher (mammash treif) food products for sale so please check before purchasing.

I got this image off of Google Maps

Loch Lomond (pronounced “Loh-Mond”) Distillers Ltd is situated in the Lomond Industrial Estate, near the River Leven (which leads into Loch Lomond), in Alexandria in Dunbartonshire. It has no visitors’ centre. Wandering around Bowie Road using Google Street Maps and you will see that the complex is very much a factory producing alcohol.


I would hazard a guess that Loch Lomond produces the most varied types of spirits than any other distillery in Scotland with one of the biggest brand ranges, from Scottish Vodka to Grain Whisky, to Blended whisky and three different ranges of Loch Lomond Single Malt whisky, namely Loch Lomond, which is unpeated, Inchmoan, which is heavily peated and Inchmurrin, purportedly very slightly peated (?).
Loch Lomond is also unique in the industry for using two traditional copper pot stills and a further six stills where the reflux of the spirit running up the Lynne arm and swan neck can be modified by opening and closing plates which means that the same stills can be made to produce different styles of spirit from heavy oily to light and fruity, hence the three very different styles of Single Malt they produce. This type of still, not surprisingly called a "Lomond Still" was further installed in a number of distilleries also owned by Hiram Walker. As far as I can assertain, apart from Loch Lomond, the only other distilleries still using the Lomond still today are Scapa and Bruichladdich.
Loch Lomond Distillers also owns Glen Scotia Distillery in Campbeltown.
Kashrut Issues

 

Many of Loch Lomond’s single malts are matured in a combination of ex-sherry and ex-Bourbon casks but according to the distillery manager who answered my email, they have produced special runs of Ex-Bourbon only whiskies of Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia for the kosher Israeli market matured exclusively in Ex-Bourbon casks.
Unfortunately for them, having gone to all that trouble, the Israeli importer, Euro-Standard Ltd, has paid for a teudat kashrut from “Chug Chatam Sofer Petach Tikva” (not to be confused with “Chug Chatam Sofer Bnei Brak”), which many religious Jews consider less reliable than more mainstream certifications. This leads to the ironic situation that many religious Jews would buy a single malt whisky without Kashrus certification if it stated on the label “Ex-Bourbon matured” but as a matter of policy, would not buy any product that came with a teudat kashrus from “Chug Chatam Sofer Petach Tikva”! Therefore, it could be argued that it would have been better for sales without any hechshir. Of course, I would much prefer that it came with a more widely acceptable teudat hechshir such as OU, LBD, MBD, Star-K, CrC etc.
Packaging.

 
Apart from the fact that I really like the shade of blue and green they have used for the two boxes, everything else about these whiskies are the worst marketing I have seen in a long time.
Monarch of the Glen by Edwin Landseer 1851
I wonder how many Highland stags will be wandering around the Loch Lomond industrial area and visit Loch Lomond factory distillery?


 
Some of the many examples of Stags on whisky bottles
 
If you want to make the whisky look totally generic, then either cover it with tartan and bag-pipes (which Thank G-d they haven’t done), or put a plain imprint of a Highland stag on the front. I know that Dalmore and Glenfiddich (and many Blended whisky brands do it) but at least theirs are more colourful and they do also have unique shape bottles and other things which make them stand out on the shelf.

 
I noticed that there is also a Highland stag printed on the side of one of the most iconic vintage whiskies, “Mackinlay’s Shackleton Rare Old Highland Malt”, made famous when three crates of the whisky were found in a base camp hut in the Antarctica 100 years after they were abandoned in the ill-fated Antarctica expedition of 1907. (I recently purchased the 1st Edition replica boxed whisky and plan to do a blog post on this in the near future….)


Loch Lomond whiskies look bland and anonymous even by supermarket own-brand standards. Going further, on one side of the box there is text describing the island of Inchmurrin, (the largest island on Loch Lomond), and making some kitschy connection between this and the whisky. On the other side of the box is a bunch of marketing waffle. The only useful pieces of information they give you are obviously that the whisky is Non-Chilled Filtered and that they have been matured in three types of casks, First Fill Ex-Bourbon, Refill Casks (presumably also Ex-Bourbon) and virgin charred casks.

 
 

I’m sorry, but the whole look of these products do themselves no favours at all. The products look bland, generic, cheap, amateurish and touristy. It is as if they were designed to put off serious whisky drinkers. Whoever designed the packaging for these malts deserves to be jailed for their slanderous actions, a true defamation of character against the liquid inside the bottle as these two whiskies are simply deliciously magnificent in every way.
Colour

 

Unlike Glen Scotia, which is also unchilled filtered but looks like they have poured luminous orange glow in the dark paint into it, these Inchurrins are much closer to what I would perceive as a natural colour but it’s quite clear that at least some artificial colour has been added because there is no way that a 12-Year-Old and 18-Year-Old should be the same colour yet, putting them side by side you cannot tell the difference between them.
Smelling Notes
From the start, there is a substantial layer of gorgeously soggy muddy leafy peat with just a hint of smoke to the 12-Year-Old. With the 18-Year-Old, that leafiness turns into a substantial expensive Cigar leaf aroma with the soggy muddy peat underneath. (I don’t and have never smoked cigars but I must admit, I do enjoy the smell of a good cigar).
Continued sniffing makes you aware of a distinctive smell of young freshly polished leather like a new pair of leather shoes for the 12-Year-Old. That smell is very much present with the 18-Year-Old but it’s not surprisingly an older leather smell like your favourite leather arm chair (and not an old pair of leather shoes!).
Both give out fresh green floral smells of walking through a garden after a rainstorm. Floral with a fresh wet muddy soul and green leaf smell and as it’s coming up to the festival of Sukkos, I’m going to say the smell of fresh Hadasim (Myrtle).


The 12-Year-Old emits lovely aromas of yellowy-green citrus fruit and floral Sweet honey with Pickling Spices. The 18-Year-Old, the same spices but sweeter and more pronounced.
Both the 12 and 18--Year-Olds convey the typical burnt fudgy caramel of an Ex-Bourbon Matured whisky but with a heavy coating of heavily charred Virgin American white oak. Perhaps this is the source of that smokiness because from what I have read about the Inchmurrins, they are supposed to be unpeated.
Both have a lovely Riesling wine and sultana fruitiness indicative of expertly distilled spirit.
Comparing the 12 to the 18-Year-Old, It is as if the 18-Year-Old has been matured in exactly the same casks, in exactly the same environment and been lovingly looked after by the same distillery warehouse manager, but just simply left for a further six years. I’m really impressed with this and don’t think I’ve ever come across a younger and older version of the same whisky which was so consistent.
Yerba Mate and Terroir
With the 12-Year-Old there is a hint of soft tannins like a medium to young Red wine. The 18-Year-Old has tannins galore that turn slightly bitter and smoky and reminds me of Argentinian Yerba Mate (pronounced “Sherbe Matteh”).


I was speaking to a very “Morgan Freeman” like distinguished looking “mature” Yeshiva bochur (student) in my son-in-law’s yeshiva who spent many years traveling around South America. He spends his days learning Torah whilst slowly sipping Mate from a traditional round vessel and sipping the liquid through a “bombilla” (metal straw).


I noticed that that smoky bitter herbally smell coming from his mug was less pungent than the Mate I remember from my wife’s family. He smiled serenely and explained that this was Mate from Paraguay, a subtler infusion of herbs. He went on to tell me that he could tell the difference between Mate from Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil and that each reflected the climate, weather and terrain.


 
(By Bob Warrick - open air market Mercado de la Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45578874)
The Yeshiva bocher, Chayim, was telling me that he believes that each Mate has within it the essence of the country and its traditions, the terrain, the climate and soul of the area. I said to him that in the language of wine and increasingly in the world of whisky, this notion is called “Terroir”.
Torah and Terroir
Rav Zev Leff of Moshav Matityahu, teaches from various sources that Torah also can have a certain terroir. Torah learnt and taught in each country has its own unique properties and style which is influenced by the country’s traditions, language, culture and yes, its terrain, climate and weather as well! Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch is Torah, German style, Rav Eliyahu Dessler, Old London style, the Vilna Gaon is well, Vilna style and of course, the Arizal could only have come from Tzfat in Eretz Yisrael.


Our lives though are not just determined by space and place but also by time or the Hebrew calendar. What is true for space is equally true for where we are within the Luach Ivri (Hebrew Year). Most people I think, look at time like a straight line, the past behind you, never to return, and the future before you, just out of reach. However, the Rabbis teach that in fact, time is a spiral where spiritual opportunities and collective memories and experiences open up each and every year at the same period in time. Pesach of course is commemorating Yetzios Mitzrayim – the Exodus from Egypt. The Jewish people in every generation celebrate this festival together as one people. Not only in space, that is, Jews all over the world, but past and future generations. Likewise, the Jews in Egypt celebrated the first Seder even before they had physically left.


The months of Elul and Tishrei is a time where Hashem comes closer and gives us the opportunity for Tikun, fixing ourselves and Teshuva, returning to G-d.  On Yom Kippur we collectively reach the height of spiritual closeness to Hashem in every generation and a few days later, translate that closeness into a physical manifestation by observing with Simcha (Joy) the festival of Sukkos.


A Perfect Whisky for Sukkos
These whiskies remind me so much of Sukkos with their fresh wet Hadas (myrtle) smells, dry leafy muddy Aravos, (willow), spicy wood Lulav (Date Palm) and citrusy Esrog freshness. Added to that the smell of a sukkah made from wood and fresh sekach (Roof branches) we have Sukkos in a bottle.


Tasting Notes

 

My advice to those who as a rule, refuse to add water, even to cask strength whiskies is to skip the Inchmurrins. Without water they are closed, dusty and dry. With water they explode, blossom like watching one of those high speed camera nature films.
Water is a MUST like Simchas Beis Hashoeivah


I added a few teaspoons of water and waited 10 minutes. I really cannot overstate the necessity to add water.
Unlike the packaging they come in, there is absolutely nothing generic about the taste of these single malts at all. They are deliciously different in every way. I suppose the nearest well known whiskies similar to the Inchmurrin is a Malt Blend of Caol Ila 18 with a Dalwhinnie 15, with a touch of Oban 14 dryness. However, for me, Inchmurrin is all of these but so much more. Both the 12 and 18-Year-Old whiskies present to you a quite unique collection of aromas and flavours. I would recommend this whisky particularly to those who are stuck in one particular Scottish region. I would say it doesn’t really fit the classic Southern or Western Highlands whisky profile. It delivers so much more.
The mouth feel is not dissimilar to a lightly roasted Marzipan oily body and Crème Brulee.
Sipping the whiskies brings out blossom honey, fruit citrus Esrog honey, sour/Sweet Pink Grapefruit with Honeydew melon, Red Juicy Apples followed by ripe red plums. Again those Caramelised Vanilla ice cream notes or Crème Brulee flavours are very much in the forefront with dry Basel, Cloves, English Pepper corns and green Hadasim (Myrtle) balancing that sweetness.


Finish is Crème Brulee, soggy peaty mud, damp leaves, red apples, tannins and mix spices. However, the 18-Year-Old’s finish goes on for longer with a heavier body of spices and wood.
Recommendations:


Bring your favourite [leather] arm chair into the Sukkah. Cut yourself a generous piece of some honey cake. Pour yourself a dram of 12-Year-Old and another of 18-Year Old. (If someone asks why two glasses, tell them it’s for the Ushpizin for that day!) Sit, relax, comparing the two glasses whilst staring up at the Sekach and let the echoes of Gan Eden enter your Sukkah.
*** UPDATE ***

Inchmurrin is available in Israel:

"Wine and Flavours"

"SIPIL"

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