Well, sample #10 of the Blind Tasting Competition was a frustrating one. It’s always difficult for a blind taster when a distillery produces different styles of whisky, but most of the time I can tell Hazelburn, Springbank and Longrow apart. But apparently not in the case of the Longrow 2002 17 Years Single Cask bottled for Dutch importer Fourcroy.
It also didn’t help that I was way off with my bubble test, which is something I use to approximate the alcohol strength. Based off of that, I figured this was a relatively high strength whisky, closing in on 58 percent. This was the first time during this competition that I was shunned by that test. It’s usually the first thing I do before pouring the sample in the glass. So from the get-go I was working with a wrong hypothesis. It didn’t smell or taste like a high strength whisky, but I neglected to follow my gut feeling and instead relied on the “science” of the bubble test. Wrong choice.
However, right from the start I knew I had something special in the glass. It’s that warm and fuzzy, almost emotional feeling I get when there’s something truly extraordinary in front of me. A mixture between old-school and more modern sherry influences. I quickly landed on Springbank as my distillery of choice and never even considered Longrow, because to me it wasn’t heavily peated enough. In the end I picked up 20 points because I choose the correct region, but that score should’ve been higher. Can’t win ’em all.
Longrow 2002 17 Years (49.4%, OB for Fourcroy, 264 bts.)
Nose: What do we have here? Beautiful sherry-matured, subtly peated nose. Tobacco leaves, bonfire smoke, sweet oranges and a touch of charcoal. There’s polished leather as well, with just a touch of burlap and charred lemon. Taste: Oily with subtle notes of peat and furniture polish. Is my bubble test off? How is this a high strength whisky? [After the reveal: Yep, my bubble test was off.] Okay, there’s touches of pepper, but also menthol and plums and oranges. A whiff of liquorice. Very classy indeed. Finish: Soft, earthy peat notes. Tobacco. Finally some touches of cocoa powder and oranges. Medium in length.
A style that’s a mix of the Lagavulin 16 White Horse and a more elegant Benromach 15. Totally gorgeous. Obviously sold out everywhere, as this was released last year.