When I think of dearly departed expressions, Longmorn 15 year old is always near the top of my list. It’s excellent whisky, which is, of course, the main reason its absence is felt more keenly – but it’s not the only reason – what happened after Chivas discontinued this bottling still never fails but to piss me off. The 15 year old was replaced in 2007 with a 16 year old expression – one year older and with a slightly different marriage of casks, but still perfectly decent enough. Fast forward to 2016 and any semblance of sanity was about to be thrown out the window.
Whilst Balvenie’s David Stewart is recognised as the inventor of finishing – re-racking liquid from one cask to another was an employed process long before he decided to utilise the transfer as a method for adding layers of additional aromas and flavours from a second cask of different origins. Re-racking was, and still is far from an uncommon site. We think of casks, laid down for decades, as impervious, near indestructible, but wear and tear and degradation takes places – particularly after repeated fills, or frequent warehouse movements. As such, there’s an intermittent need to re-rack liquid to simply prevent it from steadily dripping away. One wonders – particularly back in the day, when standards were more lax, how much liquid escaped - not via the greedy angels, but via a loss of structural integrity resulting in damp floors and near empty barrels. I dare say more than a bit.
Earlier in the summer scientists from Linnaeus University in Sweden raised the heckles of whisky fans worldwide with the publication of their article ‘Dilution of whisky – the molecular perspective’ in Nature Scientific Reports. Their study posited that amphipathic molecules (those which are both hydrophilic and have an affinity for water, as well as being hydrophobic and lacking an affinity for water) are a primary driver for the taste of whisky. They then proceeded to examine one such amphipathic molecule – guaiacol. Media reports of the study took things rather to far proclaimed headlines such as ‘Whisky tastes better with water’ and ‘Scientists prove adding water to whisky makes it taste better’. Cue expected uproar.
Longmorn is always worth looking at - this Society expression comes in at 12 year of age and drawn from a 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel.
15 year old Longmorn drawn from a 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel. Sweet, Fruity & Mellow profile. View bottle on SMWS
An intriguingly categorised and intriguingly matured Longmorn. 14 years in an ex-bourbon barrel followed by an additional maturation in a refill Nicaraguan rum barrel for a year has resulted in this being slotted into the Oily & Coastal category. Colour me interested.
A particularly interesting Longmorn – 15 years in an ex-bourbon barrel and then a finishing period in a 1st fill IPA barrel.
OB Longmorns haven’t really broken into the market since the long defunct 15 year old – irrespective of any OTT packaging – but the steady stream of IBs are always something to keep an eye out for. This Society edition was filled into an ex-bourbon barrel in 2003 and matured for 17 years and disgorged at 57.9%.
Well-aged Longmorn distilled back in May 1992 and left slumbering in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Sweet & Spicy profile.
Well-aged Longmorn delivered from a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Old & dignified profile.
Well-aged Longmorn distilled back in 1990 and matured for 27 years in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Spicy & Sweet profile.
You’ve more than likely tasted whisky from Longmorn distillery even if you’re not cognisant of doing so. The usually understated and often underrated Speysider has been quietly buttressing myriads of blended whiskies since its foundation in 1894. Ever sampled Chivas Regal? Well, whilst the core of that world-renowned Scotch comes from Strathisla, much of the fruit-forward character is derived from the dressing malt component of Longmorn. And it’s that same fruity charm that regularly sees enthusiasts on the lookout for exceptional single malt bottlings of the distillery’s spirit. But there’s one small problem – whilst Longmorn’s place as a high regarded blended component is assured, it’s presentation as an official single malt has never really (particularly over the last few years) captivated the market.
Longmorn time – an often-underrated Speysider that has been bulking out blended whiskies since its opening in 1894. But whilst the fruit-forward character of the distillate is highly regarded by blenders as a dressing malt, its presentation as an official single malt has never really captivated the wider market. Indeed, at times it has aggravated it. The original expression of Longmorn – a 15 year old release – was available until 2007 when it was replaced by a differently composed 16 year old. Both were popular during their times albeit they were far less visible than many of the growing ranges and releases from neighbouring distilleries.