Hart Brothers released a second 1984 Littlemill, this time for the American market. This gave me a solid opportunity to compare and contrast.
This whisky was distilled in April 1984, aged in what I'm guessing was a refill hogshead, then bottled in January 2005 at 46% without coloring or chill filtration.
Thanks to MAO for a sample. You can find his review as well as Michael's, which all came from the same bottle.
Whisky Review: Hart Brothers Littlemill 20 Year 1984/2005
Nose: gently floral, sour green malt underneath, a little chlorine/bromine, bubblegum, generic bourbon cask fruit, cake batter, frosting mixed with putty, tempura paint, Aquafresh toothpaste, slightly rancid butter, freshly treated lumber. After adding a few drops of water the fruit becomes stronger and more grape-like, pushing back some of the unpleasant chemical notes and leaving a less offensive mustiness, and some honey notes come out.
Taste: opens with crisp sweetness mixed with a peculiar grassiness, cooked string beans, and generic fruit esters that fade into bittersweet oak and vegetation near the back. After dilution the sweetness becomes somewhat cleaner and pushes back the vegetal/metallic bitterness a bit until the end, bigger fruit notes come out around the middle, but the constituent elements remain largely unchanged.
Finish: bittersweet grassiness/seaweed, bitter metallic/decaying oak, raisins?
Despite what my tasting notes would suggest, this was initially somehow less bad than the previous release. It's still nothing I would drink for pleasure, but I found it less difficult to struggle through the sample. On the other hand, it also didn't improve noticeably during the second tasting. This may be because it's a sample from a full bottle, so it had already aired out as much as it was going to, in comparison to a miniature that had been opened for the first time. So not the worst thing I've drunk, but still nothing that anyone should pay money for.
And yet! People still do, because of the current obsession with closed distilleries people have paid well over $200 for a bottle of this pond water. Just goes to show the importance of independent reviews. Between the three of us who have written about this bottle, I would like to think that no one will ever be so foolish as to buy it at auction again. But I know the market and that will probably happen anyway. Their loss.