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: