A bit of a catch up in honour of the new society bottling, a 9 year old multi-cask Longrow. Longrow is good.
First off a couple of Longrow 18s.
Nose - Boiled sweets dusted with sugar, car air freshener, old varnished oak and whistle pops. There is that very lovely sweet and dusty character you get when the harsh peat, originally balanced by sweetness, ages out to ethereal. This is what I love in 18 year old Longrow and 26 year old Bowmore.
Body - Gentle and dreamy, dusty old peat and cream, refreshers and an ethereal Asian fruit. This develops with more intense wood and green Sechuan pepper.
Finish - Very long and gently fruited with perfect balance between oak, fruit more robust, slightly peppery peat.
If this came out of Islay it would be 25 years old, hailed as a masterpiece and cost £600. Coming out of Springbank… you can see why everyone who gets it is so obsessed.
Otherworldly and mature way beyond 18, how do they make whisky age so well in Campbeltown? Thanks to Greg for the share of this one.
Nose - Deeper and winier, there's a nuttier sherried note in here that's beefing up the maturity, with a touch of coffee and lots of window putty. That ethereal peat is lost in the sherry, but in return there is a grown up, waxy, lacquered sweetness.
Body - Peppery with real wine cask and a fair bit of sulphur, but gentle with chilli chocolate and honey, back with the refreshers with time.
Finish - Long, hot with sulphur and the return of the '16's ethereal peat. The final delivery is quite intense but really compelling.
Very different than the 16 tasted side by side, although both are excellent. I had originally tasted the 16 at the end of a tasting at Cadenhead's in London, and thought it was amazing. Since then, I've had an open bottle of the 17 since it was released and thought it was similar but better. However trying them side by side I definitely prefer the 16. Either way, this is a real cork chucker for a long night with friends.
I will be all over the Longrow 18s from now on, like the Springbank 18s that nonchalant excellence makes them great session drams.
Next the most recent Springbank Society release. Big thanks to Andrew Purslow for splitting his bottle so we could try this.
Springbank Society late 2017 release, Longrow 9 years old, Fresh Sauternes hogshead, 56.3% A+
Nose - Sweet and fruity, like neat tropical squash. This has young, robust peat in the nose, lots of sugar and oil, caramel and lit patchouli joss sticks. There's an oily, woodsy confidence to it - lots of earth and engine. A little bit sexier with water (toffee apples), a little bit meatier too.
Body - Extremely sweet with cigarette smoke, rollie tar and WD40. Even sweeter with water.
Finish - Peppery, very long with chocolate icing and the coconut éclair from Quality Street.
Another intense bruiser, but this time the Longrow carries through that dusty intensity.
Next a whisky from the Campbeltown warehouse tour. This one I had to try, thanks to Brora (who has abandoned his own blog preventing me from linking to him) for getting me this one.
Longrow 15 years old, Warehouse tour, Chardonnay cask since 2008, 56.2% A⊕+
Nose - Perfect, dusty, ancient peated whisky, with loads of Campbeltown in it. This I would have picked as over 18, more like 20 years old. I often think the Longrows come out less peated than the Springbanks and this seems so gentle and ethereal. It's talcum powder, peach, damp cigars and bramley apple. It's beautiful.
Body - Deep, meaty, with definite burning coal fires and an incredible sweetness behind it. The dusty refreshers continue in parallel with nutty red wine cask. Dirtier with water.
Finish - Enormous - lots of clove (it's palate wrecklingly clovey), liquorice and TCP. Indian almond cake and cardamom at the end.
This is a phenomenal whisky, totally crushable and absolutely fascinating. Great wine cask and I love the cloves in the finish.
Next some cage drams from my last visit to Campbeltown, where I just bought anything with Longrow written on it.
Longrow duty free sample, 9 years old, refill port butt, 58.8% A+
Nose - Reminds me of an old flintlock gun - shards of stone, gunpowder and oak. Then plums, wax and milky coffee. Robust, young, rich (quite chocolatey) spirit and a very gentle, but noticeable hand from the cask.
Body - Sweet and sharp, Ribena and gooseberry fool.
Finish - Chocolate and green peppercorn sauce, very long and a slightly dirty peat.
What's really special here is that mineral, chalky nose with the robust, confident spirit.
Longrow duty free sample, 13 years old, first fill bourbon, 56.8% A⊕
Nose - Much sweeter and cleaner, and dusty, closer to the 18yo 2016 above. Mineral and chalk - like the refill port, this has a gentle warmth (baked green apple) with modelling clay. More intense, more waxy with water. Beautiful, really.
Body - Gently sweet, frangipane and baked apricot, the vanilla cream from the FF is perfect against that apricot tart. There's significant peat in here but it's structural to all that fruit, oil and vanilla.
Finish - Long and creamy, ripe banana, more peppercorn sauce, maybe with offal now.
Really tasty stuff, if you've got casks of this knocking about and you're sloshing it into the live cask at the Campbeltown shop, you might as well bottle it for the cage eh?
Longrow duty free sample, 16 years old, first fill sherry, 46.1% A⊕'
Nose - Up with the 18s now in terms of maturity, this is full of wax and Vimto, teenage perfume and cigarettes. There's big fruit here, oranges and melon in with the blackcurrants. After sipping, a touch of sulphur. Fruitier with water. Reminds me of the summer nights of the early 90s.
Body - Very gentle, light fruit sauce on vanilla ice cream and a cigar on the side.
Finish - Quite a lot of red wine cask in the finish. Short to medium and really gentle but then, right at the end, big, menthol, numbing oils.
Evocative always gets extra points.
I also bought the living cask Longrow from the Campbeltown shop but I think I necked it before making notes… oops. Sort of pointless making notes anyway as they were glugging another random unmarked bottle into the cask as I bought it.
Finally the recent Longrow Red. I didn't buy enough bottles of this. I tried this quite a lot during the 2016 Campbeltown festival but then it spent another year in the vatting casks.
Longrow Red, Malbec (2017 edition), 13 years old, 51.3% A⊕+
Nose - After quite a lot of writing that sherry casks smell like red wine casks, it's great to actually have a wine cask. It's harder than the sherry, and there's a proper clay note in here, like river bed clay. Dried hibiscus flowers, baby's breath (maybe even baby sick again), evaporated red wine and a snuffed candle.
Body - This is where this whisky really shines, and it is really hard to say why it's so good without using words that I've used elsewhere but meant it less. It's the vanilla, it's like an "Eat" Victoria sponge slice, with candied oranges slices and angelica but for some reason it really, really works. One taste and you start googling a backup bottle.
Finish - Ripe, a little sulphur, more cake, lots of fruit. Fizzing with the ghostly notes from the 18 at the top and a touch of heat from the sulphur, then extra strong mints which bring you back for more.
I hesitated with the extra + but it really is that good. Ripe, lots of fruit, but totally balanced with the clay and a quite ferocious menthol numbing finish.
I kept a leftover sample from last year's Campbeltown festival where we tried vatting samples of this Longrow in multiple tastings. I was very impressed with that then, but this has sat around for ages since. Notes published before. So just for fun…
Nose - it's sweeter, slightly more medicinal and more berried. It's waxy, but more birthday candles (prelude to that sponge slide perhaps) than clay.
Body - Hotter and more ordinary, a bit more gunpowder and cardboard. Cranberry.
Finish - More bitter, hotter pepper.