Royal Lochnagar – 10 Year Old – Faultline – Cask Strength – Single Barrel – Single Malt Scotch Whisky | 58.2% (116.4 Proof) $49.99
Color/Appearance: The palest of yellow tint barely brings this above clear. Bourbon barrels only here and thankfully this is served up at cask strength with natural color and non-chill filtered. Wonderful. It is great that K&L took the risk and effort to bring such an obscure distilleries’ malt to the U.S. market. The bottle is rather stylish with an artistic print of California and a nicely restrained color scheme.
Nose: Gentle vanilla, soft windswept grass, lime, grapes, super fresh and pure. A malt’s malt. I really like the light and effortless profile. Even my wife approved of how this smells, which must mean something because she usually says they smell like alcohol. It may be a little simple for me but still it’s rather pleasing.
Palate: Thin sweet glaze on a light custard, then that glaze explodes into super bright citrus. Underneath a solid foundation of barley backs this up. There is a good amount of rough raw spirit here too with the cask strength only serving to amplify that weakness. Adding some water tames things some, but not enough. A gentle creamy thread runs through this that is really nice. I would love to see that express itself some more. Maybe a more expressive barrel or finish could bring it to the forefront.
Finish: Spicy with grape skins and red pepper. A little sour and hot. Not the best combo.
Overall: The quality of this malt is apparent but it just feels too young. Some single malts can shine at ten years old, like Talisker, Laphroaig, and Benromach, but I think this needed some more time in the barrel. Those other malts that worked well so young had peat and/or sherry influences to fall back on. This is a little too stark and austere to wow you at this age. It has such a clean and pure profile that I am sure this would sing at eighteen years or more. I would certainly like to find out. It is an interesting malt to explore as there aren’t many whiskies out there that have such a pure austere profile. Though, in saying that, I do have some samples of a few others in this style that really put this one to shame. I find it a good malt to use as a buffer between drams of starkly different styles, a palate refresher as you will. Thankfully this bottle was part of a bottle share with Florin and I am sort of glad that I only have half a bottle. Still, it was a great price for a cask strength independent bottling and I find it worthwhile to explore some malt from this unsung distillery.