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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Longrow 18 year old, 2019 edition

Monday's Longrow 21 had a pair of nifty sparring partners, including this year's edition of Longrow 18 year old. And, yes, I poured the review sample from my own bottle. I've had a chance to try a number of previous Longrow 18s, and while they each differ slightly one thing stays the same: the delicate peat.

Though Longrow's malted barley is peated to a burly measure of 50ppm, and one can certainly feel those phenolics in the young Peated and late CV (💘),  something seems to happen to that peat rather quickly once Longrow hits its early teens. It gets gentler, almost floral, often reading less peaty than Springbanks of the same age. Age truly mellows it out.

That was the case with this bottle during its first third. But it picked up steam after that. This review is from the bottle's midpoint.

Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Longrow
Region: Campbeltown
Age: minimum18 years
Maturation: 75% sherry casks, 25% bourbon casks
Batch: 2019
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? No
(from midpoint in my bottle)

There's an old school Highland peat thing going on in the nose, which quickly met by seaweed and anise notes. Then guava and white peaches. Those fruit notes build with time, picking up some grapefruit along the way. The palate feels smokier, sharper and spicier than the nose during the first couple of simps. There's also cherry syrup, tart berries, fresh stone fruits and a hint of veg. It softens with time, but never gets too sweet. Citrus notes jump out later on. The smoke vanishes before the finish, tilting more towards salt and stones, savory seaweed. Then tart cherries and black peppercorns.

Though the good palate improves with time (just like the 21), the nose wins (just like the 21). The fruit notes are the highlights in both categories. I do enjoy drinking it, but the thing is, the whisky never gets beyond a comfy sipper phase. It really could use a little more peat and/or Campbeltown character to hoist it up to another level, or at least set it apart from other single malts. The 21yo gets the edge here because it has some of that complexity. Still, the 18 is less than half the price of the 21, so weigh that as you like. I'll have to return to this someday with at least one other L18 for comparison.

Availability - Many European specialty retailers
Pricing - £90-£110
Rating - 86

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