This is the US edition of the Longrow 10, 100 Proof. That means it was bottled at 50% rather than the 57% of the 100 Proof editions sold in the UK and Europe. There were a number of those UK and Europe releases; I’m not sure, however, if there was more than one in the US. I got this from Binny’s in the summer of 2013, and I think it might have been released a year or so previous—if you know better, please write in below. Part of the reason it has taken me so long to open the bottle is that about two years ago Michael K. and Jordan D. published negative reviews of it. As our palates usually align more than they don’t, I figured I wouldn’t care for it either and kept pushing off opening it. And then last month I was putting together a tasting for my local group featuring different flavours of peat and there was finally a reason to open it. And wouldn’t you know it, I quite liked it, as did most members of the group (who all tasted it blind). Here now are my formal notes. If you’ve tried it as well, do write in below.
Longrow 10, 100 Proof (50%; from my own bottle)
Nose: A classic Springbank/Longrow nose with sackcloth/burlap, mustard seed, leather and lots of (slightly sweet) brine. Just a slight butyric hint (sour butter). Not particularly peaty. Sweeter and more savoury with time. Pepper here too with water.
Palate: All the stuff from the nose and then here’s some ashy smoke as I swallow. More salt on the second sip and preserved lemon. Gets smokier with each sip and there’s some savoury gunpowder that shows up as well along with some pepper. After a bit there’s a tarry bitterness around the edges that expands with more time (somewhere between tar and charred wood). The bitterness recedes at first with water but then gets more vegetal.
Finish: Medium. The brine and salt are the top notes; gets more savoury (ham) as it goes. Longer with water and there’s some vanilla here now.
Comments: Longrow is supposed to be Springbank’s heavily peated whisky but there is nothing heavily peated about this, especially on the nose. I do like it quite a bit more than both Jordan and Michael, however. I have to say I am yet to pick up any soapy notes that they noted in their reviews in this bottle (I’m now well past the halfway mark). It just seems very Springbank to me. It’s missing complexity and the bitterness flirts with getting a bit much on the palate but the nose is really nice and it recovers on the finish. I preferred it neat.
Rating: 85 points.