Longrow 14 Years

When I first pour a dram and lean in, I’m usually curious about dissecting its parts. A hint of stone fruit, a whiff of leather. You know the rhythm and it is a fun game to play with friends. Unless you are with Ryan where everything tastes like Bananas Foster. Then it’s just funny.

When I close my eyes and breath with this Longrow, the hunt for details fades. I can feel the spray of the wind as I’m paddling out on a cold day in Northern California. The ice cream headache settling in despite the hoodie. Giant kelp bumping my board and those big swells rolling in from the horizon, while I keep an eye out for cruising great whites. You have to because of the giant seal colony which has made a home on the nearby rocks. They might be pretty but they fucking stink… in a way that feels like home. Digested anchovies and all. Yeah this whisky tugs at my heart. I miss Santa Cruz some times.

When I first learned to make Hummus from scratch during the lockdown, Julie and I went on a pairing journey. What was the perfect dram to elevate this sweet rich nutty goodness? I really expected to find a big bold dram to be the winner. Something that could stand up to the garlic, lemon and smoked paprika. Turned out Hummus’ soul mate wasn’t one of my sherry bombs. It was a classing Campbeltown malt. My wife abhors peat and immediately sprints out of the room whenever I open a bottle. In the kindest of words: “If you want to get sloppy with a campfire, you are on your own amigo.” But even Julie took a sip of the Longrow 14 with a bite of my latest hummus batch on a pita cracker and flat out declared it a genuine culinary elevation. It’s now the one and only time she will sip a smokey malt.

Alright… the nose on this classic core line bottle is a marvel. Warm sea spray, the smell of blacktop on a hot day right as it starts raining, butter toffee and hints of rose water. It reminds me of a subtle homemade Caesar dressing. When you mash the anchovies yourself. The nose is my favorite part. I only have one bottle left unopened and I’m drinking this slower and slower, dreading the day its gone.

The palate is surprisingly soft and subtle for a Longrow. I tend to expect these bottles to get in my face and make me pay attention. But let’s be fair and acknowledge that I like my whisky the way I like my woman, with a hint of neurosis. I measure my quality of life by the adventures I share and like to be kept intrigued. So while it isn’t quite as quirky as I usually enjoy, this batch gives me space to enjoy and evolve with it. The brine comes first. That taste in my mouth after I have been ocean swimming and can feel the salt at the back of my tongue hours later. Then the cracked pepper kicks in and goes loooong. There are a number of other hints. Black tea and orange peel. Wisps of fermented black ginger. It is quite sweet in actuality, a gentle wildflower honey. My mouth tingles for a while and the finish fades in a lovely way. Not a complex experience, but it is a great note.

I’ve seen a lot of feedback that these batches varied enormously. This is my second bottle, and I can vouch for that. This particular bottle is extremely well balanced. In my opinion… wait this whole drivel is my opinion, thats redundant.. anyways, the 10 year Springbank and the 14 year Longrow might be the best value for joy core line bottles from any distillery. I know the 14 is gone and is probably expensive unless you get lucky. Let’s be clear, I wouldn’t bother paying heaps on secondary. For its original price, it’s a huge win. At today’s markup, you can buy better if you are a smart shopper.

Rating: 7 / 10 : Yummy!

If I took the original price into consideration when rating, it would bump a point. For secondary prices today I drop it to 5.