Loch Dhu. ‘Black lake’ in Gaelic. Arguably the most infamous malt in history. Note that I said ‘infamous’, not ‘famous’.
If you don’t know Loch Dhu, take a moment to Google. You’ll likely find a few interesting things. First: the Loch Dhu site, full of blather and useless sales pitches. Second: the endless written word of well-warranted criticism. And third: a bit of history surrounding this franken-malt and its genesis at Speyside’s Mannochmore distillery.
We could turn this review into a bit of a history lesson on the Mannochmore distillery, but nah. Let’s just revel in the black filth that the good folks at Mannochmore voluntarily elected to inflict on the malt world. I say ‘good folks’ but if you’ve had a taste of this stuff, and are anything like me, you’re probably going to question the applicability of such an appellation. No one, in a spirit of benevolence, offers this to the masses without insisting upon a signature at the bottom of a waiver the length of War And Peace.
If you’re still not following where I’m leading here, let me spell it out. Loch Dhu is A-W-F-U-L. Truly and unquestionably awful. Like, quite possibly the worst single malt I’ve ever tasted.
So how does this stuff end up to be the color of the tar? Twice charred casks, so the story goes. Uh, okay. Yeah, that and a few gallons of E150a perhaps. And you wanna tell me artificial coloring doesn’t impact flavor? Riiiiight. Let’s go with that.
Betcha expected me to go against the grain and try to find something nice to say, right? Nope. Fug that.
This score can likely be taken with a grain of salt. I may have been overly generous.
Nose: Burnt…something. Over-stewed jam. Leather on a hotplate. Espresso. Hoisin sauce. Old dead flowers. Maybe a hint of earthiness (is that peat?). Savoury mince. Over-rummed fruitcake. Bitter tea.
Palate: Bitter. And sweet. But not bittersweet. And quite savoury. Some sort of tart jam on burnt toast. Cold espresso. Something sort of weedy. Black licorice. Burnt demerara sugar. and heavy molasses. Some sort of offensive, unpalatable cough syrup (Buckley’s maybe?). Sen Sens on the finish.
Thoughts: There are one or two pleasant notes. Shame there are dozens of unpleasant ones. I expect this is the drink they hand you at the gates of hell before checking in for the long haul. Hard to believe its only 40% abv. Feels like a dumptruck of nitroglycerine being poured down my throat. Shudder.
– Image & words: Curt