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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

April 13, 2015


A row of Longrow

How’s that possible that WF hasn’t won the World Crappiest Headline Award yet? Anyway, let’s have a few (more or less) peaty Longrows by Springbank Distillery.

Longrow (46%, OB, +/-2014)

Longrow (46%, OB, +/-2014) Four stars and a half Loved this baby when it first came out three years ago (WF 88). Sure it’s NAS but it’s also priced like NAS, which they were already doing with the CVs, which is totally and utterly kosher in my book. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very, and I mean very lovely. There’s a steely touch at first nosing, then a light briny smokiness, then lime, chalk and Band-Aid. I don’t find as much ‘good’ sulphur as in the earlier batch, but this is even cleaner and fresher. Indeed, lovely. Mouth: amazingly zesty and briny, always with a perfect freshness. Drops of passion fruit juice in olive brine, seawater and liquid smoke. Also a little earth, tobacco (when a little piece of tobacco goes into your mouth while you’re smoking an untipped cigarette – remember untipped cigarettes?), and oyster. Finish: long, with this mineral signature (graphite or something) and more brine. Comments: I simply adore this style. Could be 3 years old, I’d still adore it. It’s also peatier than earlier Longrows. SGP:356 - 88 points.

Longrow 11 yo 'Red' (53.7%, OB, Australian shiraz, 2013)

Longrow 11 yo 'Red' (53.7%, OB, Australian shiraz, 2013) Two stars and a halfHum, the former ‘Cabernet’ version did not please me at all (WF 70), but it’s to be said that on my very own palate, red wine in whisky usually works just as well as mustard in my coffee. Colour: bright orange. Nose: ah, this seems to work! Maybe does the metallic and spicy side of a proper syrah/shiraz work better? No red fruits, rather butterscotch and walnut cake, on a sooty/smoky bed, then touches of balsamic vinegar and old humidor, as well as pot-pourri and old roses. So far, so good, despite something slightly unusual. That’s the roses! With water:  gets rounder, rather on shortbread and cake. How strange – and pleasant. Mouth (neat): it is a little more unlikely, with quite a lot of green tannins and pepper, grape pips, apple peelings and all that. Beneath all that, I find blood oranges and a gingery smokiness that’s a tad dissonant. Maybe. With water: ginger mints and ginger cake, the spices won. Finish: long, spicy. Bitter oranges and pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: really something else. Liked some parts rather a lot, but I think it’s having a hard time after the immaculate NAS. SGP:364 - 79 points.

Longrow 11 yo 'Red' (51.8%, OB, fresh Port, 2014)

Longrow 11 yo 'Red' (51.8%, OB, fresh Port, 2014) Two stars and a half Port is the enemy! Don’t get me wrong, I love good Port, just not in my whisky. Colour: golden/apricot. Nose: the masters seem to have exercised restraint here, which the colour already suggested (no girly pink/rosé colour). Even more walnuts than in the shiraz, maybe two strawberries, some soft mustard and tobacco, some nutmeg for sure, more and more muesli, and then some rather penetrating (?) oranges. It’s fruitier than the shiraz, but all remains fine. With water: no luck, I now find notes of old vase water. Not too sure… Something a little sulphury as well. Mouth (neat): very oily mouth feel. Plenty of spices once again, rather around cumin and juniper this time, tannins, spicy oak, pepper, cinnamon… Bitter oranges as the fruity base. I’m not sure the spirit, however characterful, has a lot of room here. With water: swims pretty well. Some kind of orange cake with ginger and caraway. Finish: same profile, for a rather long time. Comments: very spicy and tannic. Not the most spirit-driven malt in da world ;-) and indeed some might be wondering about this baby’s algorithm, as we say these days. SGP:364 - 78 points.

Longrow 15 yo 1998/2014 (48.1%, OB, Distillery Release, Open Day, Madeira hogshead, 186 bottles)

Longrow 15 yo 1998/2014 (48.1%, OB, Distillery Release, Open Day, Madeira hogshead, 186 bottles) Four stars and a half In my book Madeira’s one of the wines that work with whisky, although there are several kinds of Madeira, from bone dry to totally sweet. It’s like sherry, between fino and PX. Let’s see. Colour: full gold. Nose: dry Madeira! So this is straighter, drier, much earthier and full of tobacco than the reds. In short, a better planet to live on. Perfect leather, old box of Cuban cigars, then dried kelp, pu-erh tea… All that, I rather love. Mouth: oh yessss. Old vin jaune, fino, walnuts, tobacco, peppermint sauce, dried porcinis, liquorice wood, crystallised ginger (but not too much of that!), bitter chocolate… This earthiness is just superb. The spirit’s smokiness is roaring in the background. Finish: long, with ginger, tobacco, sweet mustard, a touch of wasabi, bitter oranges… Perfect. It’s even kind of fresh, despite the fairly ‘heavy’ style. Comments: killed the Reds. No, not a matter of politics or sports. SGP:355 - 89 points.

Good, this is going to get tricky since I wanted to end this wee session with an un-winised Longrow. Let’s try to find a big ‘natural’ one…

Longrow 18 yo 1990/2008 (54.1%, OB, private bottling for Magnus Fagerström, cask #178, 237 bottles)

Longrow 18 yo 1990/2008 (54.1%, OB, private bottling for Magnus Fagerström, cask #178, 237 bottles) Four stars I remember some older Longrows - not talking about the 1970s here - could be a little too sulphury. Let’s see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: there’s some Demerara sugar at first nosing, which is a little surprising but just fine. I also find more linseed oil, bandages, black earth (not a matter of colour of course, rather a matter of fatness), then some very unexpected whiffs of crème de cassis, these Cuban cigars again, prune sauce, champignons… And yet it remains kind of light and fresh. Very intriguing. With water: seawater with candles and orange zests. How very 1990 Longrow. Mouth (neat): there are traces of a kind of wackiness that I used to find in these vintages indeed, such as notes of rotting oranges, of bitters, and of paraffin… And yet that works, it’s just that the combo’s pretty unusual. With water: same, with just an added sweetness. Finish: rather long, with that Demerara sugar again (where does that come from) and a ‘leathery coastalness’ (yeah right). Comments: one of my favourite early 199Os Longrows. Well done Magnus. SGP:464 - 87 points.

(Mucho danke schoen, Konstantin and Morten)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Longrow I've tasted so far







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