"The Black Whisky" distilled at Mannochmore and first released in 1996. It was not well-received, and was discontinued a year or so later. It still remains the butt of single-malt jokes today (not that there are a lot of single malt jokes to begin with, but, whatever). The malt was not without its followers, however -- and that combined with the whisky's relative infamy gives it its current status as a sort of novelty collectible.
The deep color is due to caramel coloring, and not the "double-charred barrels" the marketing campaigns claimed.
Nose of chardonnay, caramel, honey, hint of strawberry yogurt and solvent. Palate -- hmm. It passes the sip test, but not the have-a-glass test. Initially a little sweet, then subsequent sips become all about a bitter wateryness, and that's most of what's going on here… just a flat, moderate bitterness that coats your mouth and sticks through the lengthy and oddly drying finish. Reminds me of chewing on leather gloves -- like when you bite them in your mouth to pull them off.
Strange and difficult to drink at length. D/D+ because I "like" it slightly better than other stuff I've given straight D's to.
N: Funny and cooked, teriyaki sauce, figs, and molasses. P: Vaguely sweet but then vanishes in the middle palate. Surprising there is not more there based on the nose. F: Um, yeah, here's where things go all to hell. The lingering taste is burnt nasty blech*. Really quite bad, and it does not register as scotch at all. Who made this? Please fall on your sword now.
*Blech is a German / Yiddish term for a metal sheet used to cover stovetop burners. I bet if you licked one it would tasted like Loch Dhu.
The only redeeming quality Loch Dhu has is that it's bad in a new and exciting way. Other scotches are bad in a similar fashion. Loch Dhu finds a different way to redefine bad scotch. It's like a rotten banana tasting like a moldy tire instead of a rotten banana. Sure it's bad, but how'd they do that?
If you do scotch you must do Dhu. It's a rite of passage.
Given that it's the "black whisky," it's hard not to comment on the color, which resembles a strong cup of French Roast. The nose has malt with a strong balsamic vinegar element, very unpleasant. As it first hits your tongue, the stuff seems okay with a malty flavor, but there there is a rush of prune juice. It ends with a really strong bitterness which settles into a long bitter finish. It tastes like Scotch mixed with prune juice and a dash of balsamic vinegar.
Yeah, this stuff pretty much deserves its reputation. It's wretched but also sort of fascinatingly bad (like an old B movie), which is the only thing that saves it from "F" territory.
N: Strong spirit, hint of raisins, salty kind of soy-sauce smell, stale, vaguely leathery, a low-grade hint of sherry. A little brown sugar as well.
P: Spirit and not much else. Murky, flabby, kind of sherried, kind of sweet, don't really have the notes as much as it just sits there. Light mouthfeel, semi-warm.
F: Flat, wet cardboard, raisins, earthy. Kind of sweet too, lacking vitality. Mildly astringent, kind of woody bitterness but not strong - just perceptible.
It's not good, but it's Plan 9 bad, not Manos bad. There are far worse whiskies out there (looking at you, Usuikyou), but this is not worth the time, aside from a mandatory stop on the bad whiskey curiosity trail. It looks awful, smells funky and is just muddy and indistinct.