Re: The ultimate(?) Lochside tasting Edinburgh
The Lochside tasting write up.
We started with the 5yo Macnab's blend. I'm not sure how important this was to Joseph Hobbs as he was into the big picture and this was a product made on a relatively small scale within a busy market place. I beleive it was attempted in the USA and seems to have appeared in Japan. It was certainly super trickey to actually get one's hand on a bottle for the tasting, even this part of the story requires a passage... my new friend Dave who hails from the same part of the world as our featured dram was inspired to help in the search, neither of us expected such a challenge. After placing an advert in the local Montrose paper Dave discovered that it would cost us £180+ to get a bottle, poo! But we understood it was a seller's market so with patience he secured one alongside other unexciting blends at auction in the Blackpool area for a more modest price. Ironically the very regular (I'm not talking about bowel movements) Alistair told me two weeks before the tasting his mate had a bottle: the guy lives a quarter of a mile from my house! His price? Three tickets to the tasting: Sold.
I'll eventually post the full Lochside research but I want to wait until it has been edited by the individuals who have first hand knowledge and experience of the time in Montrose, for now we'll go with a write up of the tasting.
At £47 I wondered if I'd over stepped the mark but apparently not as it was sold out (more of these venutres to come me thinks). There was a mixture of regulars, a few who I had not met before but brought by regulars and actually two American tourists who were up for it.
The Sandy Macnab's had the nose of a long in bottle blend, the donator told me it was given to him by his grand parents, remember the distillery operated between 1954 and 1992 - the blend was available for only a part of this time. The gentle texture, sweet, slight nose and ever so slightly perfumed palate was understandably popular. Bottle aging at its best I suspect.
Next was the the standard 10yo 40%, breifly bottled in the late 80s and early 90s. I'd been looking at this bottle for 14 years before tasting it last Thursday so eventually tasting it was particularly pleasing. Very luckily I made contact with the last manager of the distillery, Charlie Sharpe, he told me how he pushed the idea to Hobbs about selling the single expresion. My boss bought several dozen from Jamie Walker (ex-Adelphi) when he was an agent for the brand some moons ago - a good move. The dram wasn't the most popular but quite a few people saw the light, on the night I remember an aniseed element which I'm not getting now but that might have been the pizza. Never the less it is a very well balanced fruity delicate number that has a particularly pleasing quality that would have presumably been more impresssive had it not been filtered or bottled at 40%. Although I understand it was all bottled on site.
Next we had, for the third time at these tastings, one of the rarest drams I know of- Lochside single grain. I'm not so sure this is as ideal an example of grain as it is so velvety and seemless and perfect that no other grain reaches the parts this one does, who cares it is delicious. It scored 79% of votes - in the top 0.2% of scores from 10+ years of scrutiny at these tastings. Old but fresh, gentle but assertive, dry but fruity, delicate yet intense. Perfect flavour, in putting this tasting together this was part of the inspiration - wait until you read about the owner Joseph Hobbs - he too was inspiring, what fun. I've still got a bottle of this stashed away - I feel very smug.
When Scott's Selection bottled the single blend a few years ago I could hardly believe it, this was the stuff of legend, and it was delicious, we tried it at the time and it cost about £95 - probably one of the best bargains in whisky history. It scored 79% too - a double whammy, The Whisky Exchange and Adelphi have bottled some of these casks and I hear they are wondeful too. from sherry casks which I doubt this one was - a tantalising alternative.
The dram is so feather light it is akin to a humming bird, a long rich fruity finish underlines the class: an essay in style, of course Hobbs didn't plan on a product that took decades to reach the market but the scheme of blending at birth seems to have merit - modern blenders take note. One of my favourite drams of all time.
Finally I had a call -do I open the highly regarded 23yo Cadenheads port cask Lochside or the 23yo sherry cask I bought as a lot alongside the grain from Mulberry Bank Auctions? I couldn't find the port cask which saves it for another day and when I test drove the sherry it was particulalry pleasing.
Check it out though, on the night some learned colleagues were dis-chuffed, one table were thumbs down: the other thumbs up - strange, but thats taste. Cadenheads bottled this in 2004 I think and although I don't remember it specifically I recall all Lochside bottlings being good. It is INTENSE. Fully grape skins and ripe plums plus plus. Those present were divided, some not willing to board the good ship decadance and others ecstatic at the orgy of olfactory exravagance and palatial palate.
I commend Lochside as a prince amongst the populace.