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Lochside distillery was located north of Montrose in the Eastern Highlands and began its life as a beer brewery. In 1957 it was rebuilt into a malt and grain whisky distillery by Macnab Distilleries (the Coffey still that produced the grain whisky was removed in 1973). Lochside was acquired in 1973 by a company named Destilerías y Crianzas del Whisky (DYC) that was part of Pedro Domecq sherry. They were in turn purchased by British drinks company Allied Distillers in 1992 to form Allied Domecq, who were to be acquired by Pernod Ricard in 2005. In 1992 the distillery was mothballed and in 1997 all the equipment and stock were removed. All distillery buildings were demolished in 2005. This particular expression was distilled in 1981, matured in an ex-bourbon barrel and bottled by Cadenhead's in September 2005, the total outturn being 276 bottles.
The nose starts with smoke and notes of rubber (but in a good way), followed by flavours of leather, ground coffee and some grass. With water both the smoke and rubber notes increase, and some lightly fruity flavours develop, such as lemon and grapefruit. Hard to believe that this was matured in a bourbon barrel, all the flavours suggest a maturation in ex-sherry casks.
The palate is medium-bodied and smoky. The rubber flavours are back but less pronounced than on the nose. I also detected notes of prunes and apples. With water, there is not much more to report: the rubbery notes have been somewhat diminished and some light lemon flavours have appeared, however the overall impression is a bit bland.
The finish is of medium length and dry. Some grassy notes last to the very end.
This was only the second Lochside that I tried and it turned into a bewildering experience. Firstly, I very much missed the fruitiness that I had experienced with my first bottling. Secondly, the label claims that this whisky was matured in an ex-bourbon barrel, which I find very, very hard to believe given the flavours I got: rubber, leather, coffee, grass… come on, Cadenhead's, did you mislabel something here? Whatever was in this bottle was fine, if somewhat bland when water was added.