Thursday, August 18, 2016

A long row of Longrows - the US edition


Many of my friends in the US have not that access to Scotch Single Malt Whisky as we have it here in Europe... and some of those have a good taste and appreciate the Single Malts that I'm enjoying over here... one of them is Mel and so I sent him the sampling package of the Longrows that we have tasted back in 2015.

Here comes his impression:

Back in October 2015, after commenting on his blog that I had never encountered Longrows here in the States, my friend Heiko sent me samples of the very same six expressions of Longrows whisky that he and his group had tasted in September. Unfortunately, during the next months, I was dealing with family issues which took precedence over reviewing whisky. Those issues have resolved themselves now, and I thank Heiko for his patience in allowing me to delay this review. I hope that it was worth the wait.




I used a standard tasting scoresheet for notes and scores, nosing glasses for sampling, and RO water to cleanse the palate after each sample. I sampled in the same order as did the original tasting group, youngest to oldest with the NAS Peated expression last. All samples were tasted neat. I scored each sample on a 1 to 5 star scale, 5 being the best score. (Scoresheets attached)


Editorial note: The scoresheets all identify the Region as Islay. That is in error, which I found out after completing the tasting. I was under the mistaken impression that Longrows was an Islay distillery, when in fact, it is a Campbelltown distillery. The seaside aromas and flavors of Islay are very much present in these six expressions of Longrows, which led me astray. I apologize for not knowing this in advance, but I do not believe that it affected my reviews in any appreciable way. Live and learn…..




10 Year Old
I found this whisky to be well balanced, with nose components of citrus fruit, hay and sweet flowers, with peat and mild smoke. The taste was sweet, with definite citrus flavors, a very nice peppery spiciness and more peat taste than the aroma conveyed. The finish was very nice, sweet and fruity with a lingering peppery bite. I scored this whisky 3.5 stars but I would welcome a chance to become more acquainted.


Red, Shiraz Casks, 11 Year Old

This whisky exhibited a definite aroma from the wine casks, with a peppery spiciness, the scent of ripe fruit and toffee, and a mild peat and smoke component. I liked the creamy mouthfeel of this whisky. The flavors were surprisingly complex, with nutty undertones blending with pepper, woody and peaty components. The finish was long with spiciness and peat lingering at the end. I scored this whisky 4 stars. 


Rundlets and Kilderkins, 11 Year Old
This bottling was very aromatic with fresh apple and pear, mild black pepper, and definite seaweed, iodine and smoke. This sample smelled the way a fine seaside malt should, in my opinion. Golden in color and smooth, the taste unveiled fresh fruit with some mild citrus component, more pepper and spice than the aroma indicated, with a subtle sweetness of caramel and vanilla. The peat and smoke evident in the aroma were very subdued on the palate. On the finish, the flavors diminished fairly quickly, with mild seaweed and medicinal taste at the end. I scored this fine whisky 4 stars, and I believe it could have benefitted from a bit higher proof than the 45% it was bottled at.


14 Year Old

To my surprise, this expression turned out to be my favorite over the 18 year old. The nose revealed cooked apples with some citrus, damp wood, honey and the smoke and peat expected of an Islay malt. The taste was very smooth, with the mouthfeel a bit thinner than the other samples, perhaps due to the higher proof. Another complex mélange of flavors, with seaweed and iodine giving way to a slight sweetness of oatmeal and baked cookies. The smoke and peat were present but not overpowering, accompanied by an earthy component. This was a complex flavor profile. On the finish, which was of medium length, the seaweed and peat lingered with a slight hint of brine. This was a whisky that meets all of my criteria for an outstanding seaside malt. I scored it 4.5 stars.


18 Year Old

The aromas in this expression were complex and intriguing, with the sweetness of dried fruit and oatmeal combined with mild peat and damp ash. Undertones of leather and sawn wood were also present. Another high proof whisky, the taste was smooth with a thin mouthfeel. Components of flavor include baked fruit and spices along with smoke and earth. The taste was not as complex as the aroma led one to expect. The finish was subtle but fairly long, with mostly peat tempered by some sweetness. This was a very nice expression, which I scored 4 stars.


Peated, NAS

If I was disappointed in any of the samples, it was this one. The nosing revealed a slight presence of sweet fruit dominated by seaweed, peat and smoke. This sample had a very nice mouthfeel, creamy but still thin. The taste was peaches and apricots combined with black pepper, and strong wood, seaweed and iodine. On the finish, the iodine and bitter peat were predominant, resulting in a not necessarily pleasant aftertaste. I scored this sample 3 stars. 

Thanks again to my friend and whisky mentor Heiko for the opportunity to experience Longrows whisky.




Additionally please find below the scoresheets:







Sunday, August 07, 2016

07/19 - 07/23 - Islay


For this years' birthday a got a voucher as a present for a flight to Islay. My first visit was back in 2013 and I enjoyed the trip (which brought us also to Campbeltown and Oban). This time it's an Islay only trip. It was obvious that I will stay at the Bowmore House, the booking was done quickly and luckily I found a flight at a reasonable price. Initially I planned to go on my own but when I asked a friend, he was more than excited about the idea and so he joined me for that trip.

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With the flight from Zurich to London Heathrow then another stopp in Glasgow before the small propelller plane reached our final destination: the airport of Islay. Slightly delayed but finally there after a total traveling time of approx 12 hours. We've been picked up at the airport and found us soon sitting at the dinner table with a load of fresh Islay oysters and a nice Bruichladdich in the glass! What followed after the oysters was simply mindblowing: lobster, langoustines, cray fish, mackerel and scallops. Of course all accompanied by more Islay whisky! Top quality hospitality as I knew it already from my first visit here!



After dinner we took the chance for a little walk which felt really good after the traveling... especially as we'd a very nice day with a lot of sunshine there.




The next morning started with a full Scottish breakfast and a whisky to kickstart our morning... we already had plans for our first tour of this visit, the "Water to Whisky Experience" at Laphroaig but decided spontanously to spend a quick visit to Bowmore before. All the distillery visits, tours and tasting will be the topic of different blog postings, one post for each day, so stay tuned.


After we came back in the evening from Laphroaig Andrew had prepared his version of the Bowmore House Burger that I will also prepare at home to use it in my new burger book. And of course we enjoyed some whiskys together with Andrew... a nice evening for sure...

Thursday started early too and after a good breakfast with scrambled eggs and salmon I made a little walk up to the Round Church and had a can of Irn Bru while overlooking the harbor area. BTW: if you have a hangover... Irn Bru and walk will help you definitely... not that I needed it...








After the tours and tastings at Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich we went for dinner to the Lochside Hotel and thought about having some drams at the bar later. I remember that they had a really good range when I was there 3 years ago. The food was very good but the whisky selection was a bit boring, therefore we changed the location to Lucci's, the bar of the Bowmore Hotel just around the corner.

On Friday morning we again decided for a full Scottish breakfast to have a good base for the day as there were some more tastings and whiskys waiting for us. Sensory tating at Lagavulin and after that we made the "Deconstructing the dram" Tour including a nice amount of drams at Ardbeg. After my disappointment at my first visit this experience was definitely much better!

The evening program was the same as the night before: dinner at the Lochside Hotel and some more drams at the Lucci's, a place that I will miss when being back in Switzerland... their range of whiskys is amazing!

On Saturday morning it was time to catch our flight back home, another long trip for that short distance.... but it's worth it! Islay, I will come back for sure!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

07/17 - Cannobio


We make a weekend trip to Ascona, which is in the southern part of Switzerland, at least once a year. A bit more than 2 hours away from our home, it's easy to reach and we always enjoy our time there.

I have posted a lot of pictures from past trips to Ascona in general (like here and here) or the very special experience in the Grotto Baldoria, therefore I will show this times some impressions of the weekly market in Cannobio. This small village is approx. 20 minutes away by car from Ascona (or you can alternatively take one of the ships which cruise the Lago Maggiore regularily. The biggest part of those markets is not really spectacular, but the part I really like is where they offer the cheese, salami, fresh pasta etc.

Take a look at the pictures and imagine the smell of all that excellent food...

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

07/08 - Whisky and... steaks


Back in April we enjoyed some really tasty pork cheeks, the perfect dish for this time of the year when it's still cold. Now it's summer, BBQ time for the most of the people (well, for me the BBQ season lasts the whole year but that's another story).

After the rain of the last few weeks we've been lucky enough to get some nice weather finally and so we sat outside. A good occasion to kick off the evening with a beer from the local Huusbraui brewery and a custom rolled Salomones which Alex brought from Cuba earlier this year.

And before we started with the food we're already deep into the high quality whiskys. It started with a big bang: a Longmorn which has been distilled back in 1964. Wow! What an amazing whisky and definitely a benchmark for the others which should follow.

The next one: Aberlour 8 yo., 100 Proof, distilled in the late 60s. Bowmore 12 yo., distilled in the late 60s, early 70s! One highlight followed the next. And there were still some more at the sideline...

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While firing up the grill for the steaks we should have later, we'd a tasty appetizer plate with hot and cold smoked salmon and and cold smoked char. Together with some French baguette bread and a 31yo. Caol Ila from Silver Seal it's a fantastic way to start the dinner...

Later on we continued with some fried potatoes and some entrecôte steaks, with a 22yo.Caol Ila from the Whisky Fair which ain't bad either.

We'd some more whiskys with the after dinner cigar but after a while there was not enough light to take more pictures (and I didn't want to use the flash), therefore you won't see all the stuff we had later... but above you some of those like a Bruichladdich 1966 - 1983, Moon Import, Riserva Veronelli or Ardbeg 21yo., 1974 - 1996, Sestante... outstanding good stuff!







Wednesday, July 13, 2016

07/02 - The three amigos


In the meantime we, that means Ralf, Tom and myself, met the 3rd year in a row at my home for a Saturday full of smoke, drinks and food.

While waiting for my guests I openend a bottle of Cantillon Geuze (bottled in 2013) which I have picked up during my visit at the brewery last April, maybe you still remember my Tour de Belgium. Of course I also fired up a nice cigar, I decided for a Hoyo de Monterrey Pyramides, EL 2003. Wow, what an amazing smoke... and it went very well with the beer!




Meanwhile my guests arrived and a small snack for lunch was served: cedarplanked salmon, some jasmine rice and a fresh cooked mango chutney with ginger. I'm really surprised about my personal taste but in the meantime I really have passion for those fruity chutneys in combination with fish or meat.

Afterwards some more amazing cigars followed:
  • Upmann Super Corona from 2000 or 2002: what a treat!
  • Montecristo Tubos from 1985: just excellent, Montecristo at it's best with tons of vintage flavor!
  • Upmann Monarchs AT from 1998: a blast from the past... hard to find stuff like that nowadays!
  • Bolivar Poderosos ER Belux 2013: still a young cigar but surprisingly no ammonia and a lot of great flavor, the perfect after dinner cigar!


Beside the Cantillon beer I also enjoyed some Swiss craft beer like the Beast Double IPA from Storm and Anchor or the Fatal Error 52 hour Double IPA from Bierfactory...

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Time was flying quickly and while the others were still smoking I prepared some stuff for the dinner... shaping the patties, caramellizing some onions, frying the bacon and cutting the potatoes for some fries. My first handcut, homemade fries... and the came out really good.

So we enjoyed two tasty burger (Green Chili Cheese and Swiss Mushroom Burger) as Ralf couldn't join the first evening of our Beer, BBQ and.... CIGARS!! Herf which took place for weeks ago...

The cigar we smoked after dinner has been mentioned already... the spirit selection comes here. First we'd another Indian Grain whisky. The packing and the bottle look fancy, the spirit itself reminded us more of a Cognac as of a Grain. I also pulled out the recent bottling of the Whiskyclub Regensburg, called Crois Chill Daltain, an sherry aged, 21 yo. Single Malt from Islay... hard to find out what it really is... but don't care for the distillery, simply enjoy that fantastic Single Malt because it'll blow you away! Peat and sherry sweetness... that's the perfect combo!

Thx for you visit guys, I enjoyed another fantastic day which ended up with the thrilling match (at the least the penalty shoot-out) between Germany and Italy with the better end for Germany...