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Littlemill distillery was located in Bowling in West Dunbartonshire, right on the border of the Lowlands and the Highlands. It claimed 1772 as its foundation year when houses had been constructed for excise officers, making it quite possibly the oldest malt whisky distillery in Scotland. Over the years Littlemill saw a number of different owners, among them Hector Henderson, founder of Caol Ila distillery, who assumed ownership in 1840. The distillery closed in 1929 only to be bought and reopened in 1931 by Duncan Thomas who experimented with new techniques such as a new design of a Saladin box for malting with two ventilation towers and a single kiln. In 1971 ownership changed to Barton Distilling which had been a shareholder since 1959. Barton itself was acquired Amalgamated Distilled Products in 1982 who in turn joined the Argyll Group in 1984. The distillery was closed during the same year and reopened in 1989 by the new owners Gibson International. After Gibson went bankrupt in 1994 Littlemill was closed down again and sold to Loch Lomond distillery. The distillery was dismantled in 1997 and the remnants were destroyed in a fire in 2004. This particular expression was distilled in November 1988, matured in a first-fill port pipe, and bottled in January 2015 by Hart Brothers.
The nose is sweet and spicy. Flavours of chocolate, orange peel and fruit cake come up first, followed by a hint of balsamic vinegar.
The palate is medium-bodied and spicy. Notes of honey and cinnamon now take center stage, together with hints of leather and coffee. Later on there are flavours of lemon and chocolate.
The finish is of medium length, spicy and dry. Lemon and dark chocolate appear but thin out towards the end.
I have tried a number of Littlemill expressions over the years and it has always been hit-and-miss with me, meaning that a stellar bottling would be followed by a horrific one. This one here neither blew me away nor was it below standard and as such it fits somewhere in the middle. I particularly liked the nose with its delicate balance between sweet and spicy flavours and I am impressed by the fact that the influence of the port pipe maturation is kept to a minimum. The lacklustre finish, on the other hand, did not get me excited at all.