Longmorn 16 yo
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The good people of Chivas Brothers have been kind enough to send me this sample (thank you Neil Macdonald and Sherraine Leung). It is a highly anticipated new release that was officially announced at the beginning of March.
Longmorn was founded in 1894 and means "Place of the Holy Man". There is a belief that the site of the Longmorn distillery was home to an ancient chapel. In 1919, Masataka Taketsuru visited as a student and later founded Nikka Whisky Co., building his first distillery, Yoichi on Hokkaido, Japan, using Longmorn as a model in 1934. Longmorn became part of Seagrams of Canada in 1978 and they switched the coal-fired stills to steam, switched the water source, and replaced the wooden washbacks with stainless steel. Pernod Ricard bought part of Seagrams and took over the Chivas Group in 2001. Known (among those who have even heard of the stuff) for producing rich, massive whisky (try the Gordon & Macphail Longmorn 25yo... you can spread it on toast!), Longmorn has quite a reputation among people in the whisky industry and passionate whisky drinkers. Longmorn is referred to as 'the second choice of all master blenders.'
The launch of Longmorn 16 is part of Chivas Brothers' premiumisation strategy. "Longmorn's positioning at the super-premium end of the malt market, places it in a category that is experiencing strong growth of 17.5%"
Super-premium, design synergy, price points, sector growth, etc... not exactly romantic words to move whisky bottles and inspire whisky drinkers. Like describing one's child as "effecient, showing good growth potential, reliable on deliverables, micro investment; solid return," etc.
Let's drink and leave that crap in the boardroom.
Jamaican sweets, fried plantain, honey, wedding cake, avocado. Fruits picked too early, unripe strawberries, wild blueberries, hard peaches or nectarines. Really develops in the glass and is startlingly welcoming to deep whiffs despite the %abv. Mocha java. Musty summer house after a winter of neglect. Sweet oak, some leather, menthol.
Very alive in the mouth, first friendly and buttery, then effervescent, then almost bitter or puckering. Awakening my mouth from cheek to cheek. Chilli spiciness. Green, young trees being torn apart, pinecones. Water dulls this effect, but it is one of intrinsic flavour, not alcohol level. Once these impressions leave, it is creamy and sweet. Still in the tropical realm like the nose, now mangoes and green/unripe bananas. Ginger biscuits, heaps of oak and wood tickling the whole mouth. Medium-long finish of dried fruits and spices, figs and cinnamon, some vanilla and oats, and still has that green feeling, now of a felled sapling.
Captures a whole realm of flavours from water, coal-fired distillation, different malt, different types of oak, and time. This is certainly a unique dram. It has a gorgeous provocative nose. It is very lively in the mouth, but the leading flavours walk a fine line between fresh assertiveness and tree-sap, rubbing alcohol, or tabasco sauce.
The promotional literature reads "praise has been heaped on this whisky from the moment it was first produced, yet it remains unknown to most malt whisky consumers." I worry that at the current price point, AND as the only official Longmorn release, this great whisky will remain "Speyside's secret", "an unsung hero of malt".
Additionally, I worry that the packaging is quite excessive in an age of ecological awareness and responsibility, and for a whisky that is not going to just sit in a box on the shelf, but, rather, be consumed(it is not a collector's item), such packaging is ultimately wasteful. For example, will the leather bottom of the bottle or the metal/tin neck ornament make it unacceptable for recycling?
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