Loch Lomond Scotch Crosses Our Shores
All photos courtesy the Loch Lomond Group. Last month, the Loch Lomond Group, and independent distiller and blender named for the largest freshwater loch in Scotland, made their official U.S. debut. Loch Lomond has over 250 years of distilling heritage. The portfolio consists of 14 bottlings ranging in age and price, from a $25.50 single grain to a $3,000 limited edition 25 year old blend. The Loch Lomond Group has a hand in more than just the Scotch they are named after, branching out to labels throughout Scotland like Littlemill, Glen Scotia (one of three distilleries in Campbeltown and one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland), Inchmurrin and Glengarry, which won a gold medal for its blended Scotch in the 2015 NY International Spirits Competition.
Loch Lomond has four different types of stills across its distillery locations throughout Scotland, which allows them to make eleven types of malts. One of their unique stills is a Coffey still, which they call the Rhossdu still, in operation at the Loch Lomond distillery in the Highlands. It is the only one in Europe, and aside from the Nikka Distillery in Japan, the only of its kind in the world.
Forbes McMullin is the recently appointed Vice President of Sales & Marketing in the U.S., based out of Dallas. With an impressive resume of sales and business development under his belt at such companies as Constellation and Sidney Frank, McMullin is leading teams in California, Texas, New York, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland and Georgia, the nine states that generate roughly two thirds of the Scotch sales in the U.S. He projects that once those nine states get up and running, Loch Lomond will continue to expand into other markets and into the control states. Loch Lomond targets the millennial consumer, which McMullin says is fueling the whisky boom.
What makes Loch Lomond stand out from other Scotches on the market?
Forbes McMullin: For starters, our company motto is “Never Follow” – while other Scotch companies adhere to certain guidelines, our M.O. is different in that we want to be the Scotch brand for the 21st century consumers, not the Scotch that my parents and grandparents drank. Today’s consumers want something that separates their brands apart from the rest, and our distilleries and the stories of our whiskies certainly provide that. The Loch Lomond Distillery is one of just a handful of distilleries that is both a single malt distillery as well as a grain distillery. If that’s not enough, we’re also one of the only distilleries in Scotland with an on-site cooperage, which gives us full control of our barrels and therefore control of how we age our whiskies.
What took Loch Lomond so long to release their malts in the US? Why now?
FM: The current owners purchased the distilleries in early 2014 and for whatever reason, the previous owner did not see the U.S. as a target market. As the saying goes, timing is everything and the recent resurgence in brown spirits has created the ideal opportunity for us to share our whiskies with the U.S.
Tell us about the different expressions and serving suggestions.
FM: With roughly 15 varieties, we literally cover the entire Scotch spectrum from value blends to spirits priced in the thousands. The majority of our expressions are single malts and every one has its own story and barrel aging process – consumers are more knowledgeable and educated on their whiskies than ever before, and some of the varieties we are able to manufacture through our four types of stills and age in various types of barrels, such as Pedro Ximinez and Oloroso sherry casks, enable us to provide our customers with what they want.
What is your favorite expression and why?
FM: Our Loch Lomond Signature Blend is amazing and I am often asked if the price is a typo once people try it. As far as single malts, it’s a toss-up between the Loch Lomond 12 Year and Glen Scotia Victoriana -- for me, the LL12 is the ideal balance of light peat and smoke and the Victoriana is a perfect throwback to whiskies produced in the “Victorian” era when Campbeltown was the “Whisky Capital of the World.”
You’ve mentioned Littlemill, which sounds really interesting (and pricey). What’s the story there?
FM: Littlemill officially dates back to 1772, so it’s older than the United States and is rumored to even date back much further. Although the distillery was unfortunately destroyed in a fire about 12 years ago, luckily this amazing whisky that was bottled in the 1989 and 1990 was salvaged and we have a limited number of bottles available in the U.S. on a first-come, first-serve basis for those lucky enough to get their hands on a bottle.
We know what we’re asking Santa for this year.