The “CV” was the NAS entry-level Longrow (Springbank’s peated line) until recently when it was discontinued in favour of the new “Peated”. The CV was much beloved and there was the requisite gnashing of teeth at the news. It is not very clear to me though if more than the name has changed (I am clear though that I have not bothered to check–if you know one way or the other, please write in). It’s entirely possible that in a market where peat is king, Springbank felt the need to more clearly signal to the masses that they make a heavily peated whisky (after all, all Longrow is peated, so that description is not particularly unique to this release). Then again there may actually be a difference. Luckily, the price is not very different.
At any rate, I had saved a large’ish reference sample from my last bottle of the CV and having recently acquired a sample of the Peated the time is right to taste them head-to-head and see if I can make out any differences worth remarking. I’ve since found (and purchased) an old bottle of the CV at the original price at a store in the area and so unless the Peated knocks my socks off I’m in no hurry to run out and get a bottle.
Longrow “CV” (46%; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)
Nose: Oh yes. A big hit of fairly phenolic smoke–far more of it and far more phenolic than in the 14 and 18 yo, and far more Islay in its nature. There’s a mild inky sweetness too and rapidly expanding salt. After a while there’s some preserved lemon and also a little bit of vanilla. Later there’s a faintly meaty note that develops (cured meat). With water the inky sweetness expands.
Palate: The peat is a little milder on the palate but otherwise it’s just as on the nose (except the meaty thing). Nothing to add really. Well, except water; let’s see what that does: maybe brings out more of the lemon? Not a whole lot of change.
Finish: Long. Smoky and mouth-colonizing. Gets a little bitter at the very end and not in a good way. Water does push the acrid/bitter thing back.
On to the Peated!
Nose: Not quite as phenolic right off the bat, and more pronounced vanilla to start. Then the salt and lemon come out to play. This is not a million miles from the CV. Some olive brine a bit later, and then more fruit (oranges, a hint of apricot). Water pushes the salt back and brings out more sweet, earthy peat.
Palate: Sweeter at the outset and the smoke is drier–and it’s more woody smoke than phenolic (compared to the CV). With more time there’s some hints of wet stones/earth and more lemon emerges too. With water and time the smoke expands and becomes more phenolic.
Finish: Medium. More ash here but it’s not quite as wide. Sweeter with water.
Comments: I think this sample of the CV has deteriorated a little bit over time. I don’t recally the bitter edge on the finish, which is what drags it down for me a little. It’s also possible that note bothers me more now than it did back when the bottle was on the go. However, I can only review what I am drinking now. The sample of the Peated was from a relatively new bottle, I think. I suspect I would like the CV more from a fresh bottle but as it is I like the Peated a little bit more. The CV is a little more of a loudmouth in its peatiness, and the Peated is a little more wood-driven with the vanilla and sweetness, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot to distinguish between them. Certainly, I don’t think there’s any need to mourn the CV. With the Peated Springbank/Longrow continue to have the best alternative to the peaty beasts of Islay.
Longrow CV: 85 points.
Longrow Peated: 87 points.
Thanks to Patrick for the sample of the Peated.