Loch Dhu 10 y.o. Review

Loch Dhu 10 y.o.

40% abvv

Score:  55/100


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

15 thoughts on “Loch Dhu 10 y.o. Review

    1. ATW Post author

      Yup. He is.

      Busy time. New job. Finished second novel. Dealing with some health issues (another upcoming hernia surgery). Rebuilding the Dram Initiative Whisky Club. Much ado.

      But, yes…I’m back.

      1. David

        This is one of those holy grail whiskies because of its awfulness. In terms of rarity and price this is probably the hardest to get crappy whisky, but is it the worst whisky around?

        I would love to put this head to head against something like Lambertus.

        Glad to see you back. I hope all these projects and the new job are a sign that things are moving forward in a positive way.

  1. Cam C

    Haha, very sorry to hear your senses were subjected to this, but greatly enjoyed reading the review. You have quite a way with words. Now to drink something that doesn’t make me shudder….

      1. Jeff

        But if they really are that bad, you can always improve them by tearing the labels off. Ignorance is bliss and deciding if age matters to you is the same thing as deciding if it matters to what you’re drinking. And remember: always want more product information while accepting less; it keeps the industry guessing.


          1. Jeff

            Who mentioned NAS?

            “Can’t be that bad. Has an age statement.” – I know, Bob, I know, Robert was just trying to assure people that this stuff can’t be that bad because an age statement is an assurance of quality as well as age. It was no more a misrepresentation of a key part of that ongoing debate than my advice was a dig at the crowd that thinks an absence of an age statement means the product has undergone some quality-enhancing spell based on the idea that the less they know about a product the more flavour-based care and forethought obviously went into it. If only this magic and care could brought to bear on ABV – ignorance is (cask) strength.

            It’s just as obvious that consumers DO decide whether age matters, not just to them, but to what they drink: 5, 15, or 50, the difference is really just all in your mind, not in your glass, and age is just a number. And, for everybody who really does want more product information but do nothing about it while complaining about whisky’s overall direction, take heart: the industry will collapse and capitulate over transparency any day now… just as soon as that new shipment of numbers arrives.


  2. kallaskander

    Hi there,

    never fear, a fitting quote of the day: “We see that Founder’s Reserve is playing a very interesting role in terms of recruitment into the range, attracting consumers who were in the past perhaps intimidated by the age­stated range.
    Founder’s Reserve had a very strong year, selling more than 250,000 cases, and it’s probably the strongest innovation in the whisky world in the past five years.”


    But I do not think this sentence has something to do with this.


    It is probably because of the Germen carnival season that I can hardly stop laughing.


    1. Jeff

      Yeah, it’s sort of a Catch-22:

      – if someone tells you that Founder’s Reserve is “probably the strongest innovation in the whisky world in the past five years”, you might be looking for someone else to head up your whisky business.

      – if you actually believe that Founder’s Reserve could be “the strongest innovation in the whisky world in the past five years”… well, then, you believe that bottling younger product and removing age information is the new recipe for innovation, and maybe you don’t know enough about whisky to know who should be at the head of your whisky business anyway.


    2. david

      “probably the strongest innovation in the whisky world in the past five years.” – in regards to the Founders reserve.

      I completely agree. It was so innovative that it turned me away from Glenlivet and toward craft whiskies.

      ” attracting consumers who were in the past perhaps intimidated by the age­stated range.”

      I have to admit, when I saw that 12 on the Glenlivet 375 cc bottle I was given I was scared to open it. I mean…12 Years! Who has the right to open a bottle after its contents sat in oak for that long!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s