Tag Archive for: Littlemill

Whisky Review #82 – Littlemill 22 Years Old (WhiskyBase)


Some of you may know that I have a strong love for Littlemill. I never passed a chance to try new expressions from this closed distillery. I was again, given an opportunity recently, when I got to taste a Littlemill.

This expression is distinctive on its own. It is a bottling from WhiskyBase, in celebration of their 40,000 bottles on the wall. Matured in a bourbon hogshead, it is a 22 years old whisky distilled on 20th Dec 1990 and bottled 10th Feb 2013. Not quite a 23 years old whisky, so as per SWA’s rules, its label reads 22 years old.

Let’s dive straight into the notes!

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Bright Gold
ABV: 56%

Nose: Hmm…a typical Lowlands nose with aromatic dried grass. Floral and perfumey, almost like sniffing a particular brand of perfume. Sweet pears, melons and berries dance gracefully in the nose. Warm spice lurks underneath, waiting for its turn to dance. (18/20)

Palate: Sweet fruits – pears, apples, melons and berries – explode in the mouth. The sweet overtones bounce all over with warm spices catching up in the background. The floral, grassy notes come last, rounding up the perfect and typical Littlemill notes. Warm spice tingles in the back of the throat pleasantly. (18/20)

Finish: Medium finish with dried grassy notes that become herbaceous after a while. Sweet and perfumey all the way, the finish boasts pleasant spice that lingers comfortably while it lasts. (17/20)

Body: This is a typical Littlemill that boasts the usual grassy notes, but what is worth noting here is that instead of the fresh grass that we usually find in Littlemill, this expression features grassy notes of dried grass! The fruitiness is beautiful and welcoming to anyone who is a Lowlands fan. Excellent mix of spice, fruits and grassiness to make an unforgettable whisky. While it does not have the most exciting profile, it has the strength of the character from Littlemill Distillery. (37/40)

Total Score: 90/100


Geek Flora: I love this! It features the characteristics of Littlemill without taking on too much character from the bourbon hogshead. I simply adored the grassiness of this dram!

Geek Choc: Well, it is nice, but I think I prefer something a little sweeter. A bourbon hogshead is too mild for me. Maybe a sherry cask Littlemill will do the trick! 


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    A Brief History of Littlemill Distillery

    Littlemill Distillery was one of the mysterious distilleries in Scotland in which we do not have a clear idea of its founding year. Rumours have it that George Buchanan of Glasgow founded the distillery after he took over the Auchentorlie Estate in the 1950s. George built Littlemill Distillery together with the houses that he constructed for the excise officers on site. If the dates were right, Littlemill Distillery was the oldest distillery in Scotland.

    History of Littlemill Distillery

    The history of Littlemill Distillery is long and adventurous. It all started with George Buchanan in 1772 (so it seems). The distillery then went through a period of rapid instability between 1817 to 1857 where it changed hands multiple times. Below is a short timeline of how it happened:

    1817 – Matthew Clark & Co. bought Littlemill Distillery

    1823 – Jane Macgregor became the licensee of Littlemill after the Custom and Excise Act of 1823

    1840 – Hector Henderson took over the distillery (He also founded Caol Ila Distillery)

    1875 – William Hay bought the distillery.

    Littlemill saw new stability after the Hay family took over the reins. The distillery was rebuilt, expanded and improved by the family. They remained in charge until 1913, when neighbouring grain producer, Yoker Distillery Co. bought Littlemill. With the Hay family gone, the distillery fell into a period of instability again. Blenders, Charles Mackinlay, as well as J&G Thompson, were owners of Littlemill before selling it to the first of its American owners.

    The succession of American Ownership

    In 1931, Duncan Thomas, the first of Littlemill’s American owners, bought the distillery. Duncan ran the distillery under his company “Littlemill Distillery Co.”. He stopped the triple distillation that was (and still are) popular in the Lowlands and changed the direction of the distillery for a double distillation. He changed malting methods by installing a Saladin box with two ventilation towers and a single kiln. Duncan also introduced innovative hybrid stills with aluminium-coated bodies and rectifying columns to gain better control of his distillation. The changes allowed the distillery to produce three different whiskies – Littlemill (light and unpeated), Dunglas (unpeated full-bodied) and Dumbuck (heavily peated).

    Barton Brands (based in Chicago) became a shareholder in Littlemill Distillery in 1959. The injected funds from Barton allowed the building of Loch Lomond Distillery in 1965 and eased the supply problem. By 1971, Barton Brands bought out Duncan Thomas’ share, and Littlemill Distillery went along in the deal.


    Littlemill Distillery continued to produce three different whiskies until 1984 when Barton Brands was bought over by Argyll Group. The new owners mothballed the distillery. Argyll then sold the distillery to Gibson International (Barton’s Scottish arm) in 1989. Littlemill reopened and operated until 1992 when Gibson International went bankrupt and mothballed the distillery. In 1994, the banks liquidated Gibson International, and Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Ltd bought Littlemill Distillery. However, they did not reopen Littlemill. As the owners also bought Loch Lomond Distillery in 1986, they removed the stills from Littlemill and moved them to Loch Lomond.

    Shutter for life

    After the new owners emptied Littlemill Distillery, they briefly contemplated running the distillery as a museum. However, they dropped the idea and shuttered the distillery for life in 1996. The owners sold it to a developer in 2004. Unfortunately, the emptied distillery caught fire shortly afterwards. Nothing was left on site when they finally put out the fire.

    A housing development now sits on the site of what was once Littlemill Distillery.

    Littlemill Whiskies

    The distillery may be gone, but the whiskies are still floating in the market. There are both official bottlings, and independent bottlings for Littlemill and some of these bottles are going at high asking prices. Prevailing prices for an independent bottling of Littlemill can be as high as SGD$500-$600. While it does not cost as much as a Port Ellen, it is still a hefty sum to pay!

    It is a pity that Barton Brands discontinued both Dunglas and Dumbuck in 1972, so whatever is left now are the bottlings for Littlemill, the distillery’s namesake. If you ever spot a Dunglas or a Dumbuck bottle in an auction, do check the authenicity before bidding!

    Whisky Review #76 – Littlemill 24 Years Old (Fighting Fish)


    Littlemill is a lesser-known distillery found in between the Lowlands and the Highlands. Regarded as a Lowland distillery, Littlemill produced a single malt that is light and floral. It closed down in 1996 and burned to a crisp in 2004. The site is now a block of apartments.

    We will speak more of Littlemill as a distillery soon, but for now, let’s look at the subject for this whisky review.

    The Fighting Fish series is from Germany, independently bottled by Jack Wiebers. The expression is distilled in 1990 and bottled in 2014, making it a 24-year-old whisky. Matured in a bourbon cask, it is not chill-filtered and has no colouring added. The final outturn was 172 bottles.

    Tasting Notes:

    Colour: Bright Amber
    ABV: 52.3%

    Nose: Sweet molasses, honeyed sweetness, red berries and hints of tropical fruits fills the nose before light vanilla comes into the picture. Spice lingers in the background and forms a pleasant expectation of this expression. It is different from other Littlemill expressions that I had tried before. It has an attractive nose! (17/20)

    Palate: The oily mouthfeel gives robustness to the palate before sweet vanilla engulfs the palate. Molasses and tropical fruits rush in after the vanilla dissipates. Warm spice hangs in the background to remind me of the high abv in this dram. Again, it is different from other Littlemill expressions but certainly one of the interesting ones. (17/20)

    Finish: The medium to long finish of this dram is pleasurable with light spice lingering at the back of the throat. Sweet molasses and creamy vanilla last all the way to the end, marking this dram as a superb balanced one! (18/20)

    Body: There is a fantastic balance for this Littlemill. The nose, palate and finish are consistent, and while it does not exhibit the typical grassiness of Littlemill whisky too much, the sweetness of this dram puts it in the “interesting” category indeed. (36/40)

    Total Score: 88/100


    Geek Flora: “I love Littlemill ever since I had my first dram and I was never disappointed. While I do not like the sweetness of this Littlemill, I got to say that the superb balance did not disappoint. The nose, palate and finish were perfect, so there is nothing to complain about. The expression did not score more than 88 points mainly because I find it a little unlike a typical Littlemill, which I had grown to like. So perhaps, you can say that my scoring is just a little biased!”

    Geek Choc: “I find Littlemill to be too light and floral for my liking, but this expression hits the spot very well. The sweetness of the whisky makes it more special than a typical Littlemill expression. I score it much higher than Geek Flora, hence, that 88 points!”


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