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Monday, December 16, 2019

Longrow 21 year old, 2019 edition

It's Relevant Longrow Week! And (AND!) Wednesday's Longrow review is from a bottle I purchased. Yes, this is still Diving for Pearls.

First up, the new Longrow 21 year old. Springbank had been rolling out official 18 year old editions of its heavily-peated malt for more than a decade, so I'd been wondering when something older would come along. And here it is:

Bottled just two months ago, this 21yo is a mix of sherry and bourbon casks, with a emphasis on the former, like many of Springbank's non-single cask releases. Hopefully this is the start of a regular annual expression, and that they keep it near its current price.

Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Longrow
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 21 years (bottled 2 October 2019)
Maturation: 60% sherry casks, 40% bourbon casks
Outturn: 3,600 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? No
(from a bottle split)

The nose starts off with dirty peat, dirty sherry cask and dried herbs. But that all calms down after 15 minutes or so. Then there's combination charcoal smoke and dusty kiln. Dried berries, a raspberry confection and key lime pie. Smaller notes of soil and wet dead leaves float in the background. The sherry reads much cleaner and fruitier in the palate. Longrow lemons join in. At first the peat, a little farmy and earthy, sits in the far back at first then expands, balancing well with the casks, with time. A lime note overtakes the lemon as well. More smoke in the finish than the palate. In early sips it reads bitter, then it becomes earthy later on. A mix of sweet and tart citrus and berries provides an additional dimension.

This one grew on me. The nose, in all its forms, always worked, but the palate was no more than just fine for a while, seeming more like a generic sherried Speyside. The emergence of limes and earthy smoke really lifted it up. Though the sherry casks bury the bourbon casks, the spirit finds its way through. While this is not a revolutionary whisky, it's a high quality beverage and it's priced lower than the Springbank 21yo. Seeing how just 60mL of it improved with time, I can imagine 700mL would provide a more extensive trip.

Availability - A few dozen European specialty retailers
Pricing - £190-£225
Rating - 88