Loch Lomond Group has unveiled The Vanguard Collection – Chapter One, a 45-year-old whisky drawn from the oldest and rarest reserves of Scotland’s oldest licensed distillery, Littlemill, which was destroyed in a fire in 2004.
The release was distilled on 11 October 1977 at Littlemill’s site in Bowling, West Dunbartonshire, using straight-neck copper pot hybrid stills.
The liquid was stored in refill American Oak casks before a final five-year finish in a first-fill Oloroso Sherry Hogshead. The result is a single malt boasting honey, elderflower, and nutmeg on the nose, with a silk-like mouthfeel of melted brown sugar, vanilla, and fresh fruits, before a long finish full of citrus flavour and caramelised sugars.
This traditional choice of finishing wood, personally selected by Loch Lomond Group’s Master Blender Michael Henry, complements the delicate floral nature of the Lowland malt.
Bottled at cask strength of 50.5% ABV and natural colour, 250 individually numbered bottles are available worldwide, priced at £12,500.
Vanguard Chapter One is the first of four new expressions in The Vanguard Collection, which will be released annually, each paying homage to a key figure in Littlemill’s history.
The first expression is dedicated to Robert Muir, who was granted the first licence to ‘retail beer, ale, and excisable liquors’ from King Geoge III in 1773 – potentially the first time whisky distilling was regulated.
It is presented in a handmade ash display cabinet along with one of 250 specially commissioned screen prints, a handblown Glencairn crystal decanter, a 50ml miniature and a hardback book that recounts the Littlemill story.
The prints are the work of British artist Vic Lee, who has reimagined Robert Muir’s original licence through contemporary illustrations including Littlemill’s original stills and warehousing, and trade ships on the River Clyde. They are individually hand signed and numbered by the artist and Master Blender Michael Henry.
Henry has held guardianship of Littlemill’s last remaining rare casks since the fire, drawing on the limited reserves for the first Vanguard Collection release.
He commented: “This creation of the first in The Vanguard Collection has been a fascinating process, as we have gone back to explore again the wonderful history of this intriguing whisky distillery. Robert Muir is a pioneer of his time, and this latest release is a celebration of that.”
Vanguard Chapter One is available for purchase via enquiry through the Littlemill website and other specialised retailers.