The Exclusive Malts 1988 Littlemill 24 Year Old – Review

LITTLEMILL

*Thanks to SF and the good folks at Impex Beverages for the sample.

Poor Littlemill. The last several years of its life were none to kind to one of the more interesting malt whisky distilleries in Scotland. Starting in the mid-80’s, the Lowland distillery opened and closed in fits and starts until finally being closed and dismantled in 1997. Any hope of bringing it back to life went up in flames in 2004 when the remaining buildings went up in flames. Apparently, one of the more unique recent aspects of Littlemill were the rectifying columns on top of the pot stills which made possible the production of three distinct types of spirits the distillery experimented with in the 60’s. Ostensibly, these different styles were to be used in blends; there was the lighter, Lowland style of “Littlemill”, the mildly peated, more robust “Dunglas(s)”, and the heavily peated “Dumbuck”. The Dunglas and Dumbuck styles were discontinued in 1972, with only the Dunglas ever seeing the light of day as an independent bottling.

This 24 year old Littlemill from the Creative Whisky Company’s Exclusive Malts range was distilled in late 1988…which is a little mystifying seeing as all the information I’ve read on Littlemill says the distillery was closed from 1984 to 1989. Who knows, it’s not unlikely that a bit of production was happening by the end of 1988 and the dates out there are just approximate, but it is a little eyebrow raising. Around this time, major refurbishment took place, but whether that happened before (probably) or after this was distilled just might be a mystery for the ages. In any case, this one was matured in an American Oak re-fill hogshead and yielded 348 bottles.

The Nose:  Quite the unique nose on this one. Initially, there’s floral honey, under-ripe melon, vegetal notes of fresh-cut grass, and slight feint-y notes of plastic. Lemon peel and tart lemon icing follow along with wet linen drying on the line. Quite a bit of wood represented as well; fresh-cut oak, vanilla extract, and a hint of anisette. Adding water to this gives it more “roundness” and plays up the lemony, fresh laundry aspect as well as keeping the damp leaves, grass, and fresh oak in the mix.

The Palate:  Thin, a little oily and woody, though pleasantly so. Still quite leafy and vegetal with a honeyed sweetness that carries over from the nose. Some slightly charred bread, a saltiness, and faint touches of wet tobacco leaf add a unique counterpoint to any expected sweetness. Quite tannic, with more cut oak, raw clove, allspice, and coriander. I was surprised to find a faint smoky quality towards the end, not peaty nor ashy, sort of like the charred logs the morning after a fire.

The Finish:  Lingering with dark chocolate, clove, salt, a dried herb quality, and that wisp of dry smoke.

Thoughts:  Interesting stuff that kept me very intrigued despite it being a flavor profile that’s not my favorite. There’s quite a bit of wood influence, as you might expect for 24 years, but I found that it worked well with the pleasantly different leafy/vegetal/herbal quality. Though the ABV is not scorchingly high, I found a bit of water helped to smooth out and give some room to the unique flavors. Like I said, a very interesting whisky, each time I raised the glass, I found myself thinking, “I’m not sure I like this one”, but then, by mid-sip, I was thinking, “No, I think I do like this one.” A moody Lowlander, good for those contemplative spring thunderstorm days.

The Exclusive Malts 1988 Littlemill 24 Year Old, Lowland, IB 2012

49.8% ABV

Score:  84

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2 thoughts on “The Exclusive Malts 1988 Littlemill 24 Year Old – Review

  1. Interesting article – many thanks. Will look for it. My only experience with Littlemill is a 21yo Sherry Butt at 46% which I really enjoyed. Scored it 85. It was elegant with sherry spices on the nose. Fresh floral candy sensation on the palate. Very easy drinking, well balanced with subtle complexity.

    1. Thanks Emmet!

      The few Littlemills I’ve tried, I’ve enjoyed for their uniqueness, but I have to say, none of them have really wowed me. I’ve only tried expressions aged in American Oak, though, so I look forward to trying some aged in European Oak.

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