...where distraction is the main attraction.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Single Malt Report: The Longrow Taste Off! (Part 2)

Continuing on from Friday's post, here's how things are lining up:

Longrow CV - Still as delicious as I always find it.
Longrow 14yr Sherry Finish - Much better than I'd anticipated.

And then for today's expectations:

Longrow 10yr 100proof - Ready to pull the trigger on a purchase as soon as the tasting is over, I'm that excited about this one.
Longrow 14yr Burgundy Wood - Sincerely hoping that the Longrow can withstand the wine-y topping.


Ages: at least 10 years
Maturation: ex-bourbon barrels
Region: Campbeltown
Alcohol by Volume: 57%

From a 30mL sample purchased via Master of Malt.

Color -- Light pale gold. Actually looks identical to that of the 14yr Sherry Finish.
Nose -- Some overripe bananas hit first, then the Longrow lemon note arrives exponentially boosted.  Sometimes there's rotting milk.  Other times, Boston creme.  Considerable peat is followed by mint and pears.
Palate -- Woody, and I don't mean vanillin.  I mean actual oak.  Peated bananas, smoked black peppercorns, and (yes) a tiny bit of vanilla.  But lots of ethyl.
Finish -- Broccoli or something similar, followed by cooked mushrooms.  Vanilla, molasses, barley, and lemons cheer the situation up a bit.

Nose -- Phew, very kirschy, lots of rough spirit. Some cheddar, yeast, ham, and vanilla as well.
Palate -- Spirity again, and savo(u)ry. Butyric, even. Sour porridge follows sweet malt and mild peat.
Finish -- Lengthy, sour, yet with lots of simple syrup. Chlorine and veggie peat bring up the rear.

Well.  Um.  It's...

Kristen and I have this deal worked out.  Whenever we try a new wine, the first person to say "That's interesting" owes 25 cents to our charity jar.  I mean, you know that feeling.  You sip something and it's not exactly this, it's not exactly that, and it's not exactly good.  The first thing that tends fall out of the drinker's mouth (other than the fluid) is "That's interesting."  In that case "interesting" doesn't actually describe a damn thing.

This Longrow 10yr 100proof left me with the desire to say "That's interesting" many times over.  Just to make sure I wasn't nuts when I found that butryic note, I had to do some searching and, voila, Jason over at Guid Scotch Drink found him some baby vomit in its nose.  What's extra interesting is that this doesn't taste anything like a higher-powered Longrow 10 year (which is very good). [In the comment section Jordan pointed out why this is: The regular 10 year is a mix of sherry and bourbon casks.  Perhaps the mix of casks help it out?]

Could this have been a bad batch?  Is this any different than the US 50% ABV version?  Or is this an issue with the sample?

I don't know.  Though regarding my purchase of a bottle, this was cause for pause.

Availability - This specific 57% ABV bottling is only available in Europe
Pricing - $70-$95, depending on the size of your shipment
Rating - 73


Ages: 14 years (Feb 1997 - Oct 2011)
Maturation: refill bourbon barrels for the first 11 years
Finish: first fill Burgundy casks for the next 3 years
Region: Campbeltown
Alcohol by Volume: 56.1%
Limited Bottling: 7,800

From a 30mL sample via Whiskysamples.
Color -- Dark copper.
Nose -- Currant juice and raisins on vanilla ice cream arrive at the start. Then some mothballs, leather, and something quite similar to sulfur. It's all sort of sherry-ish, in fact. Faint smoke and sweaty socks appear as minor notes.
Palate -- First: Semisweet chocolate, tobacco smoke, sweet berries and cherries. Then: raspberries in vanilla yogurt and maple syrup. Finally: a little nail polish remover peeks out just to remind you that there's some actual poison hidden inside this delight.
Finish -- All raspberries, cherries, and chocolate. Still a little sherry-ish to me.

Nose -- Ah now it's more like dry red wine.  Blackberry jam, leather, and tobacco.
Palate -- Wine + barley + oak + alcohol in a tidy package. Raspberries in vanilla ice cream, cinnamon, and a bit of chocolate.
Finish -- Cinnamon and chocolate first; then lots of sweet berries; finally the lemons roll in.

Winner Winner Whisky Dinner!

Or dessert for that matter.  Yummy.  That shot my whole whisky-and-wine-finish gripe in the butt.  I don't really have any other comments about it.  Those tasting notes tell it all.

Availability - A few liquor specialists carry it in the US.
Pricing - $110-130 (US). Similarly priced to the regular 14yr, though this one is more limited and at cask strength.
Rating - 90

As if you needed any more proof that I'm a fool, let's see how those original expectations fared:

1.) I was most excited about the 10yr 100proof. I not only expected it to be the best, but I was willing to buy a bottle of it blind from Europe. But I remained patient.  TWO POINTS FOR PATIENCE.
2.) I had mixed feelings about the Burgundy Wood, expecting the wine to smother the Longrow spirit.  WRONG.  Though it is a sweetie.
3.) Sherry finish: Meh? WRONG.

Longrow CV is still the champ in my heart, especially due to its price.  But the Burgundy Wood would make for a heck of treat.  I also just wanted to note that three out of four of these whiskys swam well.  I haven't found too many drams that handled water with ease, but most of these Longrows (especially the Burgundy Wood!) went well with a little hydration.

I gaze into my crystal ball, cloudy with unfiltered whisky (the ball, not me), and see more Longrows in my future.


  1. Longrow 10 and Longrow 10/100 are different beasts. The first is a blend of bourbon and sherry casks, the second is pure bourbon cask. Maybe the sherry helps mask some of those weirder notes or they're just pulling different casks for it.

    1. Ah ha! You are right about the 10 year. It'll be interesting to hear what you think of the US version. Other than Party Source it looks like only 3 or 4 US stores are selling it, though you probably got the best deal -- shipping aside :-P

    2. But I ordered it when shipping was free, so I did get the best deal.

      If you ever want info about casks or whatnot, the person who runs the Springbank twitter feed is pretty responsive. That's how I found out about the difference between the two 10 YO Longrows.

    3. Ah touche, free shipping is my favorite price. You're absolutely right about twittering at the Springbank folks. If they let me know the scoop, I'll post an update.

  2. Suddenly I want to give the Longrow Red a try. If Longrow can handle a Burgundy finish, I want to see it handle Cabernet Sauvignon.

    1. Yeah, I didn't think the Red sounded even remotely appetizing, until now...

  3. I just tried the Longrow CV that you gave me. Very nice! I asked my wife what she thought about the nose - "Islander?" she asked. Yes, what? "Laphroaig!" My thoughts exactly! Like mixing Springbank with Laphroaig (my two favorite distilleries, incidentally!) When tasting it I was shocked at how salty it was. "Others *must* have noticed it" - and sure enough, in your earlier notes on the CV you point out the salty theme. BTW, this showed me the way to rescue the Springbank 10 that I didn't like because it was too mild & sherryish: just add Laprhoaig. It worked!

    You seem to rue the loss of Longrow CV - is the new version, the "Peated Single Malt" inferior in any ways? Do tell!

    1. Ah, my own blog just crashed while posting my comment! :)

      I do rue the end of the CV. But to prove I'm not a complete old-school curmudgeon, I'm excited about the new Longrow Peated! It's younger (of course), but has few cask finishes so the focus is more on the malt, which I always like. I hope to do a Taste Off between the two before the year is out.

      Springbank + Laphroaig? I think you've discovered another good one...

  4. Also, I'll be able to tell you if your issues with the Longrow 100 proof are due to a bad sample. I have a bottle of the stuff, which now I'm nervous to open...

    1. The good news is that if you have the US version (50% ABV) you may have a completely different batch. I think Jordan has an un-opened bottle of that too. The Party Source has, at times, had it for a great price.

      I guess the worst that could happen is there may need to be a brand new vatted malt in your household. :)

    2. Mine is the UK proof version - I bought it "blind" back in the Fall. The Springbank + Laphroaig combo worked so well that the bottle, which had been lingering untouched for months, is now almost empty. It sounds like I need to get a couple of the CVs while they last, I was not aware of the change.

    3. I do hope your 100 proof bottle is great! There's a good source for the CVs. I'll drop you a line after this weekend.