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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Single Malt Report: Longrow 11 year old "Red" Fresh Port Casks

The Longrow train keeps running on time...

Today's review is of the Port Cask edition of the Longrow Red series.  Other Red members include Australian Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and New Zealand Pinot Noir finished Longrows.  Unlike the other three this Port version seems to have spent its entire maturation in "Fresh" Port casks.

Ralfy loves this whisky.  Serge does not.  But Serge doesn't like port cask matured whisky.  I do.  It's been the most reliable wine cask for my palate.  I'm excited about this one since I had so much luck with yesterday's 8yo shiraz cask.

Region: Campbeltown
Age: minimum 11 years
Maturation: "Fresh Port Casks"
Alcohol by Volume: 51.8%
Limited Bottling: 9,000
(Thanks to Smokypeat for the sample!)

Its color is rosy.

The nose reads a little sherry-ish at first, as the port takes moment...  Cranberry juice, dark chocolate, chlorine, and a hint of sulphur up front.  Then rubbery smoke, sometimes roses, sometimes clover honey.  Hotter than I expected from the ABV.

Ah, the port is louder on the palate.  Very berry.  Some of the nose's rubbery smoke.  A bit of ginger along with menthol and tart limes.  The sweetness gets very aggressive.

The finish is very sweet.  Lots of cranberry juice and grape drink.  Sour limes that grower sourer.  Just a whisper of smoke.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
Still a hot nip to the nose.  Actually it feels hotter, which is weird.  There's rubber, sulphur, new sneaker peat, honey, roses, and cassis.

The palate is narrower, bitterer, and drying.  Blackberry Manischewitz, ginger, rosewater syrup, mossy peat, and tart berries.  Again, it grows ever more sugary sweet with time.

Again the finish is very sweet.  Cranberry juice, cassis, and tart berries.


I don't think I enjoyed a single thing about this whisky.  At the same time I didn't hate it either, though the finish was aggressively saccharine.  To be honest, I wasn't crazy about the 11yo Red Cabernet Sauvignon either when I'd tried it last month.  Yet, I did like Longrow's 14 year old Burgundy cask (a whisky Serge hated).

Not all "wineskys" are the same.  And not all of them suck, no matter how often we've been burned by McEwan and Lumsden.  Sometimes the wine barely registers; sometimes it overwhelms the spirit.  Sometimes it merges perfectly with the malt creating a crazy new creature; sometimes it clashes, farts, and falls apart.  In this whisky's case, these very sweet port casks take front stage, often stepping all over the spirit's dialogue.  When the whisky part of the whisky can actually get a word in, it sounds like gibberish.  And we get dissonance.  If your palate trends towards the sweets then this might work for you, otherwise I'd have difficult time recommending it, especially at its price tag.

Availability - US and UK specialty retailers
Pricing - $95-$110 in US
Rating - 77 (if you have a sweet tooth you'll like it better than I)


  1. I too was not impressed by this whisky, although I enjoyed it more than you did. I didn't find it overly sweet, which was surprising, since the one thing I don't like about Springbank's output is sweetness. It's just that the flavors seemed muted and somewhat muddled. To make sure my palate was not off I compared it to a Benromach Origins #4 Port Casks and Benriach Heredotus (the latter is peated but aged in ex-sherry, not port, the former is not peated). Both of these have much more vibrant - and enjoyable - flavors, and are in good balance - the Longrow is not. So, yes, a slight disappointment so far, although it may still evolve in the bottle, or I may change my mind around it. Around 82 pts.

    1. If it's anything like the Longrow Red Shiraz, then it won't open up or evolve much. Well, that's just my opinion, but I was really disappointed and gave it away to a young musician who's not so picky.

    2. @Florin - Definitely agree about the Benriach and Benromach. This Longrow is a bit of a mess. I definitely don't see what Ralfy was raving about.

    3. @BMc - Very charitable of you! :) The Red Cab Sauv was underwhelming as well. I'll probably be avoiding this Red series altogether now.

  2. Please avoid it! All the Red releases are awful! All of them! Don't buy any!