Longmorn. Not a distillery from which we see a lot of original bottlings. In fact, I’m not certain I’ve seen anything other than the 16 year old available here in Canada. Being a part of the Pernod Ricard portfolio – and knowing that much of the distillery’s production winds up in blended whisky – has me immediately looking to Chivas as the logical explanation for this dearth of Longmorn releases.
Makes a sort of sense, I suppose. A very solid single malt as a cornerstone for one of the world’s more recognizable blend names. That’s just good math. Shame though, as I always opine in these wee editorials (erm…diatribes?), that more of this whisky doesn’t hit the shelves furiously waving the banner for single malts. Oh well.
The Longmorn distillery rests in Speyside, on the road between Rothes and Elgin. Its rather unassuming profile boasts no real surprises, aside from exceptional quality, and this whisky sits very confortably in what I’d call a fairly ‘typical’ Speyside camp.
The distillery’s name, Longmorn, apparently comes from the Gaelic ‘Lhanmorgund’, and means ‘place of the holy man’, so named for St Marnan (or Marnoch), an early missionary canonized for carrying the gospel to this part of Scotland, and to whom a nearby chapel is dedicated. The church was called Lann Marnoch, which, over time became Longmorn. Linguistic morphology. Gotta love it. The distillery is said to be constructed at this historic site, with the warehouses in particular possibly situated in the very location of the former chapel and one-time pilgrimage site.
And this, my friends, is why I love Scotch whisky. The history is palpable and beyond interesting.
Now how ’bout some tasting notes?
Nose: A bit of jam. Almond paste and a little caramel. Meringue. Cinnamon and pepper. A little green grape. Some very smooth notes of custard, tapioca or banana creme. Faint florals.
Palate: Some florals and jam again. Peppery and spicy. Like a slightly amped up Strathisla. Gala apple and raisins. Walnuts. Touch of Fuzzy Peaches candy. Barley only really shows up at the end.
To be completely honest, at first I thought this to be a slightly forced and contrived malt. The natural harmonies and sweet, unblemished profile not unlike an auto-tuned pop star’s infallibility. On reflection however, I think this is simply a very well constructed dram. 48% and non chill filtered? Speaks volumes to the triumph of execution over greed. I’ve quite come ’round to this one.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt
The conventional wisdom on the interwebs seems to be that the 15yo 45%ABV old OB was better, but I haven’t had the new 16yo (too expensive in Toronto) to compare. The 15yo was the second bottle I ever bought, and even at 45% it was a cracker.
Glad to hear from someone I respect that the 16yo isn’t all that bad!
Glad to see the review! I tried a bottle about a year ago and found it quite pleasant, but not for the price. For $20 less a bottle I would recommend it, but it is more than double what the 15 used to cost. That’s a hefty bump for another year and a more attractive packaging! After finishing the 16, I found 3 dusty boxes with the 15 on a back shelf at the liquor store. I bought all three for $39 each and still have one and 2/3 bottles left. This may be contrary, but I liked the 16 better, but the 15 is quite good as well. Strange thing is they don’t really taste that similar! The 16 seemed more floral and bourbon influenced while the 15 has more typical sherried notes.
Found a 2005 bottle of the 15 on a shelf behind the counter of a store I occasionally frequent. It was much higher than the previous 15’s, selling for $77, but I got it anyway. Now I have an unopened 2005 and 2006 (I think?). I’ll have to find a good occasion to open them.
I love finding older bottlings of malts that are available in contemporary times. It gives a really good idea as to the evolution (or lack thereof) of whisky through the ups and downs of economic considerations and public opinion. Look forward to hearing your thoughts when you open ’em.