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As you may or may not know Angels' Share Glass supplies many distilleries with spirit bowls for their spirit safes and also glass measuring equipment for their labs.
So today we were delighted to be making a delivery to the hidden gem that is Loch Lomond Distillery. With its different types of stills, grains, yeasts and total control over their wood it really has a wealth of hidden knowledge.
Our bespoke spirit bowl delivery was to be made to Lorna Buchanan, accounts manager, in the lab. Lorna is a little known whisky legend in the industry and her wealth of knowledge on all things whisky is phenonemal... I must admit I say this word quite a lot during our visit.
On arrival at the industrial estate, that is home to Loch Lomond Distillery, I was impacted immediately by the sheer height of the still houses, emphasising that this Highland distillery is doing big things.
We were greeted by brand ambassador Ibon and unknowingly I bumped into plant manager Tony Brewerton, who was a mate of mine from school. He isn't up in Alexandria very often and today of all days we walked right into each other, serendipidy!
Ibon took us straight out into the distillery and up to the lab to drop of our spirit bowls and to say hello to Lorna. Lorna, kindly had a row of new make for us to try. Tom was designated driver so it was left to me. I was truly amazed to learn that one distillery could produce 9 new make flavour profiles and also understanding the cuts from each type of still and how they created such a variation.
Tom and Lorna reminisced about people they had known in common and mused over glass apparatus that needed identifying from times gone by or repairs that perhaps we could do.
The distillery is so much bigger than I remembered from my previous visit and the mix of continuous distilling and single malt production is impressive. The continuous stills were so tall my fear of heights kicked in whilst hanging out the fire escape to see how tall they were.
The mix of column and pot stills is genius, it is this set up that gives them huge control over the spirit flavouring profile. The new roof being installed impeded us getting close to our bowls in the spirit safe but we saw them glinting in the light.
From the still house we went back to the main tasting room, which is a little piece of luxury in the heart of the old brick warehouses. We were treated to a fabulous lunch and all credit to CEO Colin Mathews & blender Michael Henry, the staff at Loch Lomond have a lovely working environment and offices.
After lunch we were treated to a quick look around the warehouses, dreaming now of the next chapter at Angels' Share Glass and the possibiltiy of our own cask. I love warehouses it is like sleeping giants of magnificence, cold but like a library of liquid.
Loch Lomond has its own cooperage and Andrew and the team were happy to show off some cask charring and leak testing. My favourite piece of equipment was the octopus, i need this for getting my jeans on some days. :-)
If you haven't been to a cooperage go! It's a true craft similar to glassblowing, which is mindblowing.
Back to sample the good stuff. Ibon kindly laid out the 3 main Loch Lomond malts The Loch Lomond 12 year old, sweet with a very mild 5% peat. Inchmurrin 12 year old, light and grassy like fresh apples. Inchmurrin 12 year old, the peated version which isn't at all what was expected, there were notes of chocolate on the nose accompanied by an astringent heat of peat on the finish.
The Carnoustie 1999 was bottled for the Gold Championship and was light in colour with a certain easiness on the nose, it didn't quite wow the palate but it was peppery and short.
The limited Single Cask Inchmurrin was the finisher and wow it was the favourite. It was like drinking and eating ice cream and custard together. A limited release with only 270 this bottling is only available from the distillery, so we bought 2 of the very limited amount left.
Discussions throughout the day kept us thinking of what our own whisky might be.... that you'll have to wait n see!
With thanks to all the team who made our day so interesting and most certainly a delivery trip with a difference.