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Scotch Whisky

Loch Lomond Releases Two Extraordinary, Ultra-Aged, Littlemill Single Malt Scotch Whiskies

Loch Lomond’s Littlemill distillery has released two ultra-aged single malt Scotch whiskies. The 44 YO and a 45 YO are among the oldest single malt Scotch whisky expressions ever released and the oldest released by Littlemill.

The distillery was demolished in 2004. These ultra-aged expressions are drawn from the remaining whisky stock and were bottled as part of its Littlemill Private Cellar Collection. Approximately 250 bottles of each expression were released. But only 20 of each age statement are available in the US.

Littlemill: A Short History

The Littlemill distillery was established in 1772 by George Buchanan of Glasgow following the acquisition of the Auchentorlie Estate. It sits on the site of an old brewery, dating back to the 14th century, in the village of Bowling on the banks of the River Clyde just outside of Glasgow. The distillery is close to the Auchentoshan distillery, with whom it shares the same water source from the Auchentorlie Burn in the Kilpatrick Hills.

The distillery’s location was ideal. The Clyde made it possible to ship its whisky to Glasgow easily. Completing the Forth & Clyde canal in 1790 and the Union Canal in 1822 allowed it to ship its whisky to Edinburgh.

Littlemill sits on the dividing line between the Lowlands and the Highlands. While the distillery is technically in the Lowlands, the fields from which it traditionally took its grain and water source were in the Highlands.

Its past owners have long claimed that the distillery was among Scotland’s oldest, if not the oldest. The evidence usually cited was a date stone set in the gable of one of the distillery’s buildings carved with the numbers 1772.

According to Colin Matthews, President & CEO of Loch Lomond Group:

The Littlemill brand is one with a deep and proud history that dates back almost two and a half centuries. While Littlemill has always been a widely respected brand, now having certified paperwork dating back to 1773 that confirms that Littlemill was indeed the very first licensed Scottish distillery further elevates the brand to a level high above the others.

Littlemill has several other claims to fame in its storied history. After the passage of the 1823 Excise Act, the first licensee was Jane Macgregor. She was likely the first woman in Scotland to hold a distilling license, although she wasn’t the first female distiller. During the era of farmhouse stills, women typically operated the stills.

Like many Lowland distillers, Littlemill used to triple distill its whisky. The practice stopped in the 1930s.

The distillery was also the first to introduce the predecessor of the Lomond still. Developed by Duncan Thomas, an American inventor who bought the distillery in 1931, the still combined a pot still with a rectifying column. By moving the position of the collecting plates in the column, the distiller could mimic the effect of altering the length of the still neck, allowing them to produce different aroma and flavor profiles in their whisky.

The Lomond still, developed by Alastair Cunningham of Hiram Walker in 1955, had a similar configuration to Thomas’ still at Littlemill but could independently cool the three perforated plates on which the new make spirit could be collected.

Cooling the plates also allowed the distiller to alter the amount of reflux obtained during the distillation. Reflux refers to the condensation of vapor within the still, allowing it to be redistilled. Higher levels of reflux maximize the spirit’s copper contact and create a lighter, more refined spirit, while lower reflux levels produce a more flavorful, robust spirit.

The Lomond still further enhanced the ability of a distiller to mimic different still configurations and create different types of whiskies. The first still was installed at the Loch Lomond distillery in 1964, hence the name, and is still in use.

Subsequent stills were installed at the Glenburgie, Mintonduff, Inverleven, and Scapa distilleries. Scapa still uses the Lomond still as a wash still and relies on a conventional pot still for the final distillation. The Lomond still at Inverleven ended up at Bruichladdich, where it is used to produce The Botanist Gin. According to Matthews, the original Thomas’s stills at Littlemill were dismantled when the distillery was sold.

The distillery was sold to the Loch Lomond Group in 1994 and permanently closed the same year. It was largely dismantled in 1997. A fire in 2004 destroyed what remained of the distillery. The property has since been redeveloped and now houses apartments.

In 2015, Loch Lomond Group introduced the Littlemill Private Cellar Collection. These highly sought-after expressions represent the last stocks of Littlemill whiskey owned by the company.

Below are tasting notes on the 44 YO and 45 YO Littlemill releases courtesy of tasting samples generously supplied by the distillery.

Littlemill, Testament to the Past, Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 44 YO, 42.5% ABV, 750 ml, SRP $11,000

Littlemill, 250th Anniversary Edition, Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 45 YO, 41.8% ABV, 700 ml, SRP $12,000

Each expression was distilled on October 4, 1976, and was matured in ex-bourbon casks until they were transferred to refill American oak hogsheads by Master Distiller Michael Henry, where they would remain for the next two-plus decades. Three of the 44 YO hogsheads were re-casked into two first-fill Oloroso Sherry butts for four months, while two of the 45 YO hogsheads spent six months in Oloroso Sherry butts.

The 44 YO expression was released in 2020, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted its retail distribution. The 45 YO expression was released in September 2022 in the UK and in January 2023 in the US.

Both whiskies exhibit the signature dried fruit notes of Sherry cask finishing. On the nose, the 44 YO exhibits pronounced notes of ripe green apple, grapefruit, golden raisin, a bit of dried fig, and hints of tropical fruit notes of melon and pineapple. There are also floral aromas of elderflower and ginger with a slight herbal note.

The 45 YO exhibits the same apple and grapefruit aromas, but the apple notes are more cooked/baked. The grapefruit notes are more subtle. Aromas of dried lemon and orange zest and a hint of rose petals accompany them. The herbal notes seem drier and earthy, reminiscent of black tea, and the cinnamon notes are slightly more pronounced in the 45 YO than in the 44 YO expression.

The 44 YO is sweet and creamy on the palate, with distinctive tropical fruit notes of pineapple, melon, and mango and a touch of lychee. There are also some peach, citrus zest notes, and vanilla.

The 45 YO has a similar taste profile, with rich tropical fruit notes and stone fruit flavors of peach and apricot. The orange and lemon zest notes carry on to the palate. The 45 YO also has a more pronounced milk chocolate note and seems spicier with flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s equally creamy, with a pronounced palate weight and a mouth-coating quality.

Both whiskies have a long finish. The 44 YO offers lingering sweet tropical fruit notes and a touch of pepperiness that rapidly dissipates. The 45 YO also offers lingering fruit notes, but it’s slightly drier with more pronounced oak and herbal notes and a slightly more pronounced bitter note.

Both whiskies are outstanding, and both are very comparable. Both exhibit pronounced tropical fruitiness. The 44 YO is slightly sweeter, while the 45 YO is slightly drier. Given that only 20 bottles are available in the US, if you want a bottle better to grab one quickly. For more information on how to obtain a bottle, email


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