Longmorn doesn’t have much of a presence on retailers’ shelves. The core range (if you can even call it that) consists of a 16-year-old and a NAS release. The distillery is part of the Secret Speyside Collection, but with travel retail in the dump that series has failed to make a mark. Luckily, there are independent bottlers to help us out. Like Michiel Wigman, who has just released a Longmorn 2005 that has aged for 15 years in a sherry butt.
While Longmorn has a capacity of 4.5 million liters of alcohol per annum, most of it ends up in the blends of owners Pernod Ricard, such as Chivas. It has been a key component of blends for a long time, pretty much since it was founded in 1893 by John Duff. While the first few years were rocky, in large part due to the Pattison Crash, the whisky produced at Longmorn Distillery quickly was high in demand.
James Grant bought the distillery only a handful of years after it was founded and by the start of the 20th century it became highly sought-after. By then it was used in a variety of blends that have stood the test of time, like VAT 69 and Dewar’s. That might have played a big reason why Masataka Taketsuru, one of the fathers of Japanese whisky, spent time as an intern at Longmorn in 1920.
While over the years independent bottlers have released a fairly steady stream of single casks from Longmorn, the year 2020 seems to be lagging somewhat. We’ve become used to seeing many dozens of Longmorn each year, but according to Whiskybase we’ve only seen 17 so far. Sherry-matured Longmorn are even rarer, but one of them is the Longmorn 2005 15 Years by Michiel Wigman. That age and vintage might remind some whisky enthusiasts of another recent Longmorn by North Star Spirits, although that one was bottled a much higher strength.
Longmorn 2005 15 Years (50.9%, Michiel Wigman, C#18074)
Nose: Rich, voluptuous sherry notes with a hint of yeast, but also bitter coffee notes and dried tobacco leaves, as well as a chalky note. A touch of menthol too, but also luscious fruits (plums, dates) and vibrant spices, mainly pepper. Finally some polished leather and aceto balsamico.
Taste: Oily, syrupy and mouth-coating. Pretty earthy, with touches of strong espresso, cough syrup and some mild chili heat. Some touches of dark chocolate as well, with a whiff of thyme or oregano. Finally hints of tobacco and dried red fruits.
Finish: Cloves, a touch of cinnamon and some orange zest. Long.
It’s been a while since I tried one of these, but if my organoleptic memory is correct, it reminds me of the series of Longmorn 1996 bottled by Van Wees. There’s still a few bottles available directly from Michiel Wigman.
Sample provided by Michiel Wigman