I think of Glenkinchie, one of the few remaining Lowland single malts, as “the lemon malt”, although its actual nickname is “The Edinburgh Malt” for its location some 15 miles from the capital of Scotland. Glenkinchie was relatively obscure (used mostly in blends) before it became one of the jewels in Diageo’s Classic Malts crown, representing the Lowlands.
A straightforward but very well-executed malt. This is a quintessential ex-bourbon Highland malt, with primary characteristics of summer fruits, flowers, and honey. … In this way, with no peat or sherry or wine-cask influence, you can appreciate the elemental building blocks of single-malt.
A mid-line sherried malt, without the “big fruit” hallmarks of a true sherry monster, but with plenty of berry, wine, and resin to produce the desired effect. The fruits are subdued, but do contain that aged, balsamic, resinous quality, and are balanced by slight malty sweetness. This is the kind of drink you reach for when you want to lean back and relax on a chilly winter evening, but not necessarily think too hard about what’s in your glass.
I love myself a good Sauternes cask finish, and this Arran doesn’t disappoint … aged for 8 years in standard ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to a “selection” of Sauternes casks for an undisclosed amount of time before bottling at a laudable 50% ABV and without chill-filtration or added coloring.
This is an exemplar of the category of unpeated single malts aged exclusively in ex-bourbon. Unlike some other Speyside ex-bourbon malts, which are more like blank canvases that need a little sherry to bring them to their full potential, The BenRiach 12 showcases the twin effects of good ex-bourbon aging: clarity of grain and sweetness of oak.
Upstart farm distillery Kilchoman has added a new single malt to its permanent portfolio, next to one of my favorites, Machir Bay. Kilchoman specializes in pristine craft peated malt that is remarkable for being excellent at a young age – like 3 or 4 years young. Like Machir Bay, this is partially sherry-aged. In Sanaig’s case, it’s an extra 10 months of aging in oloroso sherry casks.
This NAS (no-age-statement) bottling combines Ardbeg from ex-bourbon casks with a “heart” of Ardbeg finished in “dark sherry” casks. No details on how they’re defining “dark sherry” (or “heart” for that matter), but the Internet has decided this means heavily-seasoned sherry casks. The result is bottled without chill-filtration at 46.5% ABV.
Superstition is Jura’s house malt but heavily peated (although the bottle says “lightly” peated, I would lump it in with fully peated malts like Laphroaig and Talisker) and aged in ex-bourbon casks. It’s quite reasonably priced, at $50 – $60, which is the new $40, didn’t you know?
The much more reasonably-priced 10 year bottling (also labelled “Jura Origin”) is aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks and is not peated. As an entry-level, unpeated, and non-sherried malt, it showcases the “blank slate” that Jura’s house character is grown from. While there is a small amount of peat in the water used by Jura, I can’t discern it in the glass.
Loch Lomond, unfortunately not available in the United States, offers an NAS entry-level malt for bottom dollar. … Loch Lomond is a small distillery that quietly churns out product, and that product goes by many names including Loch Lomond, Inchmurrin, and Old Rhosdhu (among others). While classified as a Highland (or West Highland) distillery based on its location in Alexdandria, near Dumbarton, it is literally just up the road from Glasgow. Its style is also in line with Lowland malts: simple, subtle, light, and crisp.