This was released for The Whisky Exchange’s annual Whisky Show back in 2010 under their “Masterpieces” label. I had the opportunity to purchase it then but felt it was too expensive: I believe the price was £120 ex. vat. Those were the days. Anyway, I’ve never had a late-1970s Longmorn before (not that I can remember anyway—I do have two small children). This is from a bourbon cask (many of the older ones I’ve had have been from sherry casks). As to whether this will reach the fruity heights of its storied stablemates from earlier in the decade, I don’t know, but can only hope.
Only 135 bottles were released by TWE (presumably from a single cask). If this is because they split a cask with someone else or because Sukhinder Singh (the proprietor and avowed Longmorn fan) kept the rest for himself, I don’t know, but let’s get to it.
Longmorn 31, 1978, “Masterpieces” (58%; The Whisky Exchange; bourbon cask; from a sample from a fellow whisky geek)
Nose: Toffee, brown butter, roasted malt, apricot, orange peel, dark honey. Oh yes, this is nice. Some wood spice too (rye, a bit of cinnamon) and something stickier: marmalade? After a little more time the honey, orange and apricot expand and there’s some milk chocolate as well; no other new notes, but I’m sure water will unlock some. With more time it gets brighter at first and then the roasted malt gets more pronounced (almost reminiscent of smoke or tobacco). With water the fruit expands even more
Palate: Ah, very nice here too: leads with bright citrus (orange verging on lemon) and then there’s a slight hint of a tropical development (mango, pineapple) that never quite arrives. The roasted malt is here too along with sticky apricot jam. Very nice mouthfeel and very drinkable despite the high strength. With a lot more time there’s a slightly metallic note as well. With water that metallic note’s still there but now it works somehow with the fruit.
Finish: Long. The fruit expands again and then slowly fades out and the wood and wood spice emerge as the lead players at the end—perhaps talking a bit too loudly at the very end. Much less wood and generally much better with water.
Comments: Maybe not quite a masterpiece in my book but very good indeed. Not quite as glorious as some of the other 30+ Longmorns I’ve had but I really wish I’d bottle a bottle when I could have. Better with water, I thought.
Rating: 89 points.
Thanks to Jerome for the sample!