Thanks to /u/devoz for pouring me these drams.
These were whisky reviews 10 and 11 of a massive tasting. They are in the peated section, with each section having a break in between. No, I normally wouldn’t go beyond 5, but I was excited, I took many breaks, I checked my notes with others in a way that seemed to be self-defeating but was meant in a request for reassurement that I’ve been told doesn’t show me in the best light, and all that. Got it? Great.
Speaking of putting myself down in a way I feel is humorous but people actually feel is uncomfortable, I haven’t had an Inchfad before. Which both is and isn’t a big deal? Let me explain.
Loch Lomond is a distillery that allows a lot of experimentation. Or at least they used to, I have only heard stories of the past, never verified them beyond other rumours, and take all of this with a grain of salt. The company has three sets of stills, makes grain and malt whiskies, and releases both peated and unpeated whiskies.
So if you’ve had a Craiglodge, Crotengea, Glen Douglas, Inchfad, Inchmoan, Inchmurrin, Loch Lomond, or Old Rhosdhu, then you’ve had a whisky from Loch Lomond distillery. I’m probably missing one from that list.
So while I slowly debate Old Rhosdhu in the shops, what’s happening with Inchfad? Luckily my one buddy had the same thought, and served up two Inchfads to get me caught up. One was aged in an Oloroso sherry Barrique and the other in an ex-bourbon cask then finished in a first fill PX cask. Otherwise just different independent bottlers and same year releases.
What makes Inchfad different? It’s a heavily peated single malt. Also it’s discontinued, so… that sucks. Granted the company also owns Littlemill and it’s also discontinued, and that doesn’t stop me from drinking it, so meh, let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Inchfad 14 2007 North Star
Price: $128 CAD
Vintage: April 2007
Bottled: July 2021
Cask type: Oloroso Barrique
Number of bottles 234
Colour: 5Y 9/6
Nose: Smoked peach, barnyard, grilling, white pepper, tropical fruit
You have a thought in your head of what “heavily peated” means. The industry really doesn’t help with that: anCnoc has heavily peated versions that taste lighter than Ardbeg that tastes lighter than Octomore, and yet all of them will tell you to your face that they are heavily peated.
Inchfad is another one. I expected a blast of smoke, and this particular entry certainly has smoke flavours and smoke adjacent notes. That said there’s fruit, more farminess, and tropical fruit. Good choice on the cask.
Taste: Anise, molasses, sourdough, cream, hazelnut
Spice, some sulfur/sweet notes, and bread. If the nose was “hey, there’s a lot of peat used in this whisky”, then the taste is more so like biting into a Cinnabon Cinnamon Bun and realizing that they were pumping in that cinnamon nose the whole time because it’s cheaper than selling something worth the calories.
Went on a bit of an angry sugar craving rant there and I apologize, where were we? Oh, yeah, the anise and molasses is where the smoke went. You’re getting more yeast, cream, and nuttiness going on here. It’s interesting, and shows a lot more than some other peated releases.
Finish: Red liquorice, peat, wood, chocolate
Fruit, anise, peat, and some chocolate. Nice to sip on. It’s more like what I associate with Islay peated whisky than typical Highland peated whisky, though without the brine, so it’s another odd hybrid. Maybe Balvenie peat? Nonetheless, putting more in my mouth.
Conclusion: Great nose, decent complexity on the rest. It’s a simple peated whisky, and honestly you’d typically expect more from 14 years, as there’s elements that are still a bit simple going on.
Would you be annoyed to buy this? No, not at all. It’s a new take on a heavily peated whisky. The nose will sell it and the rest coasts, like we all did when we learned high school Geography. I’m normally not the biggest Oloroso fan, however I felt the nuttiness and sweet red fruit worked well here.
Inchfad 14 2005 Dràm Mòr
Price: € 87
Cask type Ex-bourbon Cask then finished in a 1st Fill PX Sherry Finish
Cask Number 1100
Number of bottles 274
Colour: 5Y 7/8
Nose: Orange, brine, earthy peat, melon
Oh, cool, that citrus I only sometimes can deal with. But here the peat, the brine, and the other fruit helps it out, so I won’t be cursing Florida for anything extra today. Just the normal stuff.
Simpler nose going on here.
Taste: Smoke, mushroom, cinnamon, anise, ham, banana
So let me get this straight: I get all the earth, all the spice, some funk in the form of banana and some meatiness like Mortlach used to do, and I don’t have to deal with earth?
Yeah, I’m a sucker for PX over Oloroso normally, but my bias is coming out strongly here.
Finish: Cinnamon hearts, ginger, lime, brine
Hot finish, but not uncomfortably hot. Well after I did this review, I made spice cookies and it’s that same ginger/cinnamon burn going on.
Conclusion: Very spicy, good amount of peat and fruit, though it has some rough edges. Like the brine doesn’t seem to have done much like that one guy you keep around on Facebook to make yourself feel better. You know, the one who just lost his third fast food job? Yeah, him.
I’m a sucker for spice and this has a lot of it. It drops the orange pretty quick, the sherry seems to just be smoothing out what it can. Frankly I like it better than the last one. Maybe it’s closer to an Islay with the brine, maybe it’s my bias, and maybe it’s the mix of the sherry and ex-bourbon casks. Whatever, I gotta try more Inchfad, that’s what I’m saying.
Scotch review #1506-1507, Highland review #247-248, Whisky Network review #2213-2214