I love Longrow – or rather the Springbank distillery in Campbeltown, where Longrow is made. A few years ago I went on a very charming tour around the place – there was no health and safety there. You could climb up things, dip a jug in and taste the liquid halfway through the process. Britain’s premier drinks writer, Oz Clarke, and some shaggy haired dude who rides around in cars, James May, actually visited the distillery for one of their TV shows, and seemed rather impressed with the place.
Springbank is a relatively small operation that produces three types of spirit: Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn – and now they’ve expanded operations to Kilkerran. Longrow is their heavily peated single malt, and the Longrow C.V., which I bought from the distillery, is a very good whisky indeed – a solid, reliable peated dram. I’ve also tried the Hazelburn 8 Year Old finished in Sauternes casks, which is a breathtakingly good whisky. So, with rather high expectations perhaps, I tried the Longrow 14 Year Old, which is finished in sherry casks and bottled at 46% ABV:
Colour: pretty pale. Weak cider. Sepia wash across a photograph. On the nose: a delightful balance between the mossy peat and sherry, the rough and smooth, the smoke and sweetness. Coastal breeze, notes of citrus. A vegetative freshness, like after a storm. Really is quite pleasant.
In the mouth: that sweetness, weirdly, doesn’t come through that much for me – not like the nose promised, and I feel a little deceived! The peat leads the charge here. It’s very earthy, briny, barely-heavy stuff. A sort of vodka-like solvent-like quality hanging about. Spices aplenty, pepper and woodsmoke, but there’s an overwhelming mineral quality, like licking a rock, that I didn’t quite like.
Most disappointing, especially considering how lovely the nose was, and especially knowing how tremendous the Longrow C.V. is. Still, it’s not going to take the shine off this distillery: I just clearly need to try more.