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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Single Malt Report: Longmorn 26 year old 1987 Cadenhead Small Batch

As I mentioned in Monday's review, we stopped off at Cadenhead Whisky Shop in Edinburgh towards the beginning of our Scotland trip.  Their Edinburgh store is surprisingly snug and doesn't appear to be well stocked, but I think most of the bottles are sitting in a closed off room in the rear.  Out front there's a chalkboard menu of what they have in stock, as they do in a few of their other stores.  Though the list was extensive, I could find anything that interested me.  But what did arouse my curiosity was the Cask Ends Cage.

The "Cask Ends" are 200mL bottles of various Cadenhead releases.  Despite the name, these are probably not the final cask drippings that fall short of a 700mL bottle.  I'm pretty sure there were more than 3 bottles of a few expressions (math: 4 bottles would equal 800mL, more than enough for another 700mL bottle) in the cage.  Plus what are the odds that three "Cask Ends" bottles of a 1987 Longmorn were just sitting gathering dust in the cage for the three years since its release?  I have no real complaints about the Cask Ends, in fact they are an excellent idea.  These 200mLs provide an rare opportunity to try out single casks (and small batches) without splashing out for full bottles.  I wish more indies would offer something like this.

Distillery: Longmorn
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Independent Bottler: Cadenhead
Range: Small Batch
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 26 year old (1987-2013)
Maturation: two(?) ex-bourbon hogsheads
Bottles: 402
Alcohol by Volume: 49.5%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No

As with Monday's Tomatin, I tried two pours of this Longmorn side by side, one neat, the other reduced (~43%abv).

The nose is simple but solid.  Lemon peel, bran flakes, plain digestive biscuits, and dried heather.  After a while, some subtle notes of orange blossom honey (it's what we have in the pantry right now) and vanilla linger.  The palate starts off super malty, almost chocolatey, with notes of vanilla bean and clementines.  Then in a surprise attack it shifts into an expanding pastel sphere of limes, cara cara oranges, and sweet grapefruits.  The limes and grapefruit remain for the very long finish.  Some orange candy, cactus (a first!), malted barley, and cooling tingle.

WITH WATER (~43%abv)
The nose gets brighter.  More citrus, less grain.  Maybe some white cherries and macintosh apples.  A hint of tar in the background keeps that brightness in check.  The palate keeps most of the malt from the neat version, but it also has a fruit salad of mandarin oranges, pineapple, and white grapes.  Hints of vanilla, caramel, and eucalyptus in there too.  Sweeter than the full strength version.  The tingle in the sweet finish is more citrusy here.  Vanilla simple syrup, malt, and eucalyptus make appearances as well.

What this single malt has that's missing from Monday's Tomatin, Hunter Laing's recent 29yo 1985 Longmorn, and nine out of ten modern whiskies is Capital 'D' Development.  When this Longmorn's palate shifted gears and opened up, not only was I stunned, but I was stunned that I was stunned.  Perhaps I need to be making a habit of drinking better whisky.

Back to this whisky, specifically.  The nose is nice, perhaps better with water, but the palate is where the show's playing.  I recommend it neat, though some of you sweet tooths would prefer it with water.   Great stuff.  I don't think it's available at its original price, which is too bad because I'd recommend it right there.

Availability - A few bottles remain in continental Europe
Pricing - £36 for this 200mL; was originally £130-140 for 700mL, now around £170-£200
Rating - 89