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How the Loch Lomond distillery became a front-runner in the Scotch industry

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Over the past decade Alexandria-based Loch Lomond distillery have greatly transformed their product line-up and image, going from also-ran to one of the front-runners. Hats off to them for their achievement.

For years if not decades, Loch Lomond was seen as a bit of an outsider. Although the distillery in theory sat north of the “Highland Line”, its whiskies were seen as Lowland ones.

The distillery developed the straight-sided “Lomond Still” and also distilled some malt whiskies in column stills – frowned on by many in the Scotch industry. And the firm was long one of the few not to be a member of the Scotch Whisky Association.

Despite this, they are no small player. They produce High Commissioner, one of the best-selling budget blends, the successful Glens Vodka and other spirits, including Ben Lomond Gin, bottled and distributed to 120 countries from their Catrine bottling plant, between Mauchline and Auchinleck in Ayrshire. Their total payroll is around 300.

Loch Lomond has a long history dating back to 1814 and also to the now-vanished Littlemill Distillery at Bowling, established in 1772. Their Alexandria distillery was built in the 1960s, undergoing many changes and expansions since.

It also is one of four Scots distilleries with its own cooperage, handling about 20,000 casks a year.

Brian Townsend.

Some years ago, the firm changed hands and the new management team took the single malt brand upmarket and did the same with Glen Scotia, distilled in Campbeltown.

Their latest step is to name all their Alexandria-distilled malts Loch Lomond, including the Inchmurrin and heavily-peated Inchmoan malts, although the two names still appear lower down the stylish new labels, under their golden stag’s head emblem.

The line-up is seven-strong — its standard malt, then Loch Lomond Classic, a 10-year-old, three 12-years-olds (which include Inchmurrin and Inchmoan) and 18-year-old. There are five duty-free litre variants—and three more expressions will be added by the end of 2020.

Loch Lomond have entered into prestigious golf partnerships with the Royal and Ancient, covering the Open and the AIG British Women’s Open, and with the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) to sponsor the Scottish PGA Championship and the European Tour’s new UK Swing event. Special commemorative bottlings will be marketed here and worldwide.

Despite the coronavirus setback, future prospects look bright.

Read more in this series:

Amber Lights: American whiskies – what does bourbon actually mean?

Amber Lights: Britain in a Bottle – new book is an armchair tour of the UK’s distilleries, breweries and wineries

 

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