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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Single Malt Report: Longrow 14 year old 1998 Fresh Madeira single cask

This will be the last post of Longrow Week since I'll be watching a late showing of The Force Awakens tonight.  I was thinking of taking Lyft and a flask of whisky, but knowing me I'll just have the urge to urinate for two hours.  I'd rather take the piss than take a piss if you know what I mean oh never mind.

I finally get a chance to try a whisky which had puzzled me for two years.  Bottles of this 14 year old Madeira cask instantly popped up at retailers all over the LA at the same time in 2013.  It said "cask strength" but somehow was magically at exactly 50%abv, after only 14 years.  Its price of $130-$150 seemed a bit steep considering the price of the regular 14yo and the 14yo Burgundy cask.  When I saw it a fancy bar, I thought it would be a great opportunity to taste it.  The bartender quoted a price of $50, I wished him well, grabbed a club soda, and understood why the bottle remained sealed on the bar shelf.

Gradually over these two years, people actually bought the bottles.  And then one nice day, at Peatin' Meetin' (again), a fellow by the name of Aaron Krouse (aka aaron197172 of Booze Dancing) handed me a sample of this very whisky.  Thank you Aaron!  As it turns out, this madeira cask Longrow was a single cask, thus the price.  And now I get to try it!

Region: Campbeltown
Age: 14 years (June 1998 - December 2012)
Maturation: "Fresh Madeira" cask
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
Limited Bottling: 228

Its color orange gold.

The nose is very quiet character-wise, but it's also not hot at all.  Citrus, toffee, chlorine, and applesauce; peat in the far distance.  Feels like it's going to be acidic on the palate.

Though hotter than the nose, the palate is quite pleasant with its vanilla, toffee, and sweet peat.  There's plenty of toasty barley, a decent herbal bite, and lots of pepper in the back of the throat.  Occasional notes of limes, tangerines, and almond paste.

The acidity arrives in the finish.  Limes and pepper and the toasty barley.  A bit on the short side.

Doesn't feel like it ever fully lifts off at this ABV.  I'll add water...

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
Some musty fruit (overripe melons and apricots) arrives in the nose.  Orange blossoms and salted caramel.  And that's about it.

The palate registers mildly.  Softer bitterness, a pip of peat, toasty grains, and sugary stone fruit syrup.

The dessert wine starts to sing in the finish, all thick and fruity.  The herbal bitter note lasts longest.

A little more water now...

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
Some tobacco shows up in the nose, joining the musty fruit.  The orange blossoms have become orange zest.

The palate is much sweeter -- vanilla, caramel, and apricots.  A peppery bite sneaks in.

The finish remains sweet with the stone fruit.  Hints of pepper and the herbal bitterness.

I don't quite know what to make of this thing.  It's the politest Longrow I've had.  The palate is perfectly respectable.  The finish improves with water.  But the nose is so hushed that sometimes it's not even there.  While it's MUCH better composed than yesterday's Port Cask Longrow, it delivers no whisky joy like Tuesday's Shiraz Cask Longrow.  It's a perfectly reasonable whisky, good for casual sipping.  But holy crap, for $150 that's some fancy casual.

A final note.  Not including the Shiraz Cask from Open Day 2010, this week's three Longrows had US releases, all priced at $100 or higher.  Ignoring pricing, I would without hesitation recommend Longrows CV and Peated above these three.  Then taking into consideration that CV and Peated was/is priced at $50-60, I happily recommend those two NASes even higher.

Availability - A few US specialty liquor retailers
Pricing - $130-$150
Rating - 84