Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Longrow Chardonnay “in-depth”

IMG_1825My second in-depth tasting with Ed. Last time was a fantastic Laddie Micro-Provenance in Brunello cask, this time it’s a cage bottle (“duty paid sample”) from Campbeltown.  These are full bottle cask samples and are unique, you can’t buy more than one bottle from the same cask and once it’s gone it’s gone forever! 

I really liked the idea of nailing this unique bottle in one sitting.  I was fairly sure this would be good (it’s well aged Longrow in a wine cask) but in any case I’ve never been let down by one of these cage bottles.  Either they are carefully picked or you just can’t go wrong in the warehouse.  I’m keen to do one of the Springbank or Longrow OB 18 year olds at a session one day, these are the kind of understated but elegant drams that really repay concentration.

Thanks Ed for running this session again, great fun and a real antidote to writing notes for many different, tiny drams in one sitting.

Longrow, Chardonnay hogshead, 15 years old, 56% A⊕

Cage bottle (duty free sample), 19.10.01

Dram 1

IMG_1826Nose - Sweet, dried peaches, slightly hot funk, dried mango? Warm Haribo? A really beguiling minerality with warm Summer earth. Approach it gingerly and there's joss stick and scented rubbers. A really complicated, fruity and quite dirty/sexy nose, with intense fruit and tobacco. With water, slightly more funk, a real "old Longrow" feeling to it. Not as exciting, however, as when neat.

This is absolutely lovely, really warm and compelling with a balancing minerality.

Body - Sweet but dry complexity, cherry sweets, dusty refreshers and quite chalky. Slight sulphur funk and a definite wine cask in the delivery (nutty). Quite aggressive peat on top of this (white pepper), but the intense sweetness and mineral/wine cask really works. With water, more fruit, dustier, retronasal Haribo. With time the wine cask really comes through.

Finish - Long with more fruit; orange zest, refreshers, dusty with a touch of swimming pool. With time, very clearly cloves, with a wooded, leathery edge.

Dram 2

IMG_1827Nose - More in-depth fruit, icing sugar, some candied ginger, dried fruits. Window putty and new carpet, new leather belt. Clear liquorice.

Body - Slightly dirty, more leather and leatherette. Real refreshers now with grapefruit and kia-ora. Delicious.

Finish – Still with the refreshers. There is a really deep, lingering sweetness and fruit. The peat really comes through with time, quite bandagey, quite medicinal.

Excellent fruit and balance on this intense whisky.

Dram 3

Nose - Sweeter now with more oranges, sherry cask, dried flowers, charcoal.

Body - Vanilla, some cake, cigar tobacco, salted caramel and blood orange / grapefruit zest. The wine cask is delicious. Peach tart with vanilla cream, really oily.

Finish - Cherry tunes, licked leather.

Ed has the leather at the fore now, I'm more on the fruit.

Dram 4

IMG_1829More new plastic book coverings, the orange is back with breakfast orange juice and aniseed.

Nougat, flower petals.


Two for two for well judged wine cask in-depths.  Great maturity shown here, lots of fruit and lots to hold our interest over the course of the bottle.  I’ll have reviews of the last two Longrow 18s coming up soon, the 2017 one is particularly excellent. 

Next stop, Cambeltown!


  1. Hi Ben, thanks for the review! I am a society member but hadn't heard of cage bottles before. How do you come by these? Do you have to go to the distillery?

    1. Hi Chris
      Sorry I've just seen this comment! Cage bottles are only available from the Campbeltown Cadenhead's shop. They are single bottle cask samples, unique.
      When I last met Mark Watt he confirmed that they were picked specifically - you can't go wrong with these.

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