Blind Tasting #13: Longmorn 2005 15 Years (North Star Spirits)
Next up in the Blind Tasting Competition: a single malt that may just be the mother of all sherry bombs. North Star Spirits (responsible for these gems) bottled a pitch dark yet well-integrated Longmorn 2005 15 Years at an incredible strength that gives you lots of room to play with water—it swims very well.
Longmorn is a relative hidden gem from Speyside that seems to be underused by owner Chivas Brothers. It’s appreciated by a relatively small group of connoisseurs, but pretty much an unknown for the larger whisky drinking public. Then again, how does a big company like Chivas with over a dozen malt distilleries decide which ones to market as single malts? There’s only so much market share to go around.
Glenlivet and Aberlour seem to have won out in that regard, while Strathisla receives plenty of attention not just for its looks, but also for being named the spiritual home of Chivas Regal. Longmorn meanwhile suffered through an attempted premiumization in 2016, when the beloved Longmorn 16yo almost doubled in price and a new über expensive 23-year-old was added to the core range. That strategy failed, much like Mortlach’s attempt at appealing through high prices and perceived exclusivity.
Along with Caperdonich, Glen Keith and Braeval, Longmorn is currently part of Chivas’ Secret Speyside Collection. That range is mainly intended for travel retail, which obviously has been hit hard by the pandemic. You might think it would’ve showed up at regular retail outlets by now, but that is barely the case.
Once again, independent bottlers come to the rescue. There’s not a ton of Longmorn available, but the ones that are often live up to high expectations. Quality (and whisky in general) comes at a high price, and the Longmorn 2005 15 Years from North Star Spirits is no exception. That’s also why plenty of bottles still sit on (digital) shelves. Expect to pay around 200 euro.
Longmorn 2005 15 Years (63.1%, North Star Spirits, 596 bts.)
Nose: Big sherry bomb. Rich and voluptuous with a lot of syrupy fruits, strawberry marmelade, sweet cherries, figs and plenty of chocolate as well. Finally a whiff of umami-ish soy.
Taste: Thick and syrupy mouthfeel, but surprisingly drinkable at such a high strength. It reminds me of that series of young Glenrothes from Adelphi, but a little more developed. Nice ground coffee notes, cocoa powder and plenty of dried red fruits. Water opens up a syrupy, brighter side with a touch of menthol and cough syrup. Recommended.
Finish: More of the above. Long and drying.
One for the sherry lovers, this is a fantastically balanced, in-your-face, domineering single malt.
The Longmorn 2005 15 Years from North Star Spirits reminded me of one of those heavily-sherried Glenlivet from Signatory Vintage. So that’s what I submitted as my entry in the Blind Tasting Competition. I scored points for region and alcohol percentage, but was too far off in age for a few additional points.
Meanwhile, I’m still in the running for first place and tonight the final whisky will be revealed. I’ll let you know how it turned out tomorrow. Fingers crossed!
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.