It says a lot about the esteem that Littlemill was held in until very recently that I was able to pick up this miniature for all of about £10 when I bought it at The Good Spirits Co in Glasgow in 2013. I figured "How often will I get to try a 20 year old whisky for that kind of money?" Little did I know what I was getting into.
This was distilled in April 1984, aged in what I'm guessing was some kind of refill ex-bourbon casks, then bottled in September 2004 at 46% without coloring or chill filtration.
Hart Brothers Littlemill 20 Year 1984/2004
Nose: chemical disinfectant, chlorine, green malt, dusty pine, vanilla frosting, berry esters, citrus (orange, lemon, lime), incense, and growing cask influence. After adding a few drops of water, the unpleasant chemical notes become even stronger, partially balanced by increased cask influence, while some floral notes are added.
Taste: opens with saccharine sweetness that carries through all the way to the back, quickly joined by grass clippings and some kind of unpleasant solvent/chemical note with a touch of citrus oil, with some bourbon cask notes hiding in the background. After dilution the cask influence moves towards the front along with an earthy quality, somewhat helping to obscure the off-notes but not entirely succeeding.
Finish: bitter grass clippings, citrus pith, green malt
On my first tasting this made me wonder that the place wasn't shut down earlier (though the same question might be asked of North Port/Brechin). While there were occasional hints of something better hiding behind the chemical stink, this is a strong contender for one of the worst single malts I've ever tried, in its own way almost as off-putting as the Glen Elgin that smelled like burning hair.
On the second tasting some of the worse elements had dimmed, leaving the better parts amplified, especially on the nose. The palate was still kind of a mess, but at least slightly less offensive. Still, not really something I'd want to drink other than as a curiosity, but at least a glimpse of what the distillery could potentially be.