Littlemill, 31 Year Old, 1988, 48.7% ABV, “A Friendship Celebration”, Hideo Yamaoka & Emmanuel Dron

Updated: Jan 6

Anyone notice a divine affinity between whisky and cats? Just go to any bar and take a gander at the picturesque bottle labels and you’re sure to spot more feline furries than any other animal. What might be the reason for this? I’m not entirely sure but I can at the least admit that both @CharsiuCharlie and I (@111hotpot) have cats of our own (a Scottish Fold Bengal and a Golden British Shorthair, respectively). Greater forces at work, perhaps?



My feline pal that likes to take on daredevil challenges like touching the water in the toilet bowl and inexplicably falling in and scaring herself.

Today, I review a bottle that too has a couple of felines on the label – a 31 Year Old Littlemill, distilled in 1988 and matured in a Hogshead, at 48.7% ABV, titled “A Friendship Celebration, Hideo Yamaoka & Emmanuel Dron”. This was bottled under Hideo-san’s Whiskey Mew, an indie bottler in Japan that is best known for its manga-themed labels. Whisky Mew originated from, yes, Hideo-san’s love for his cat, his time as a manga editor at Shogakukan, and his passion for whiskies – of which he is a notable collector of, and a winner of multiple nosing competitions and author of several whisky books. The trifecta gives us Whisky Mew.



The key inspiration for Whisky Mew. I jest. Hideo-san and his cat! (Image Source: Whisky Mew)


Now, for the other half of the story of this bottle, we should give an introduction to Emmanuel Dron – born in France, living in Singapore, he is the co-owner of one of Singapore’s popular whisky bars, Auld Alliance, which focusses on vintage bottles (which they offer by the glass). Emmanuel has operated the Auld Alliance, named after the historic alliance between France and Scotland in 1295, since 2010, and given his penchant for rare vintage bottles, it would be easy to imagine how a bottling of Littlemill such as this came about.



Emmanuel - the second half of this Littlemill bottling. (Image Source: So Chic)

The Lowlander Scotch distillery Littlemill would safely fall into the category of rare vintage whisky given its mothballed status since 1994, when its owner Gibson International went bankrupt and had to sell the distillery to Loch Lomond Distillery, before finally being destroyed in a fire in 2004. Pretty rough. Back when it still operated, the distillery was known for producing three types of whiskies – a heavily peated version, a full-bodied version, and a traditional lighter-bodied Lowland version. This was possible through the use of rectifying columns rather than the typical swan necks, which allowed for greater control over the distillation process.


The old Littlemill Distillery. Y'know it's old when the photo is in sepia. (Image Source: Great Drams)


Fun Fact: Littlemill claims to be the oldest distillery in Scotland.

Let’s get to it!



Tasting Notes

Color: Deep burnished oak.


Nose: Heavy, palpable, creaminess. It slowly opens up with the scent of sunflower oil, light and gentle. Followed by a very classic Lowland grassiness, with dried pressed flowers, thyme and rosemany. On deeper nosing, I get more oak in the background, deep fragrant woody notes, as well as the freshness of pine cones.



Wafts of grassiness and dried herbs, alongside some brighter more brisk winter air of pine cones. (Image Source: Floh's Kitchen)

Palate: Just as it was on the nose, the same viscous buttery texture. It is by no means hot but you can certainly taste the alcoholic bite to it. Clarified butter, more rosemary, with growing heat. It’s also sweet, like sugar cubes, with hints of chalkiness and minerals.



Nice texture, creamy but fragrant. (Image Source: David Lebovitz)


There’s a gentle fruitiness and citrus zest of lemons. It almost reminds me of air freshener. Flecks of nutmeg powder are also present, as well as water chestnuts.



Twist of lemon, sprig of rosemary, finish off with some nutmeg and water chestnuts. (Image Source: Rachel Schultz)

Finish: The finish is mid-length but carries through the same sweetness, with a nice lemon twist that is quite refreshing. It leaves a drying note from the oak.

My Take

This was very classic Lowlander – the grassiness, the creamy texture, the light lemon zest, the sweetness – it ticked all the boxes. It was delightful and brought back a style of Lowland malts that is quite missing today. Again, what always stands out with these legendary Lowlanders is the texture and the grassiness. In which case, this delivered straight and thorough.



This one. (Image Source: Kindness Mart)


My Rating

​🌬🌬🌾🌿💐


It’s clean, fresh and zesty – an air freshener of a dram.

Kanpai!

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