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Longrow CV

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Master Of Malts
Master Of Malts

Joined: 10 Apr 2012
Posts: 1401
Location: East Lothian

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 5:34 pm    Post subject: Longrow CV Reply with quote

[One of my favourite drams! Just to reiterate my previous disclaimer, these reviews are pulled from a social network I use at my workplace. They're intended to be informative and generate interest and hopefully they don't come across as patronising in this forum]

Longrow CV

If offered a glass of this stuff and asked what it was, many might hazard a guess that it was an Islay and, in a way, they would be right. Longrow is distilled at the Springbank distillery in Campbeltown, the name deriving from a long gone distillery that stood next door. First released in 1973 and originally an experiment, Longrow was a deliberate attempt by Springbank to recreate an Islay-style malt on the mainland. It has been in regular production since 1992 and the CV is the most recent addition to the expression. To understand the character of the distillery's expressions one has to look back to the early 20th century production techniques.

Campbeltown was once the self-styled "whisky capital of the world" with 34 distilleries in operation at its peak and the area still has the status of a distinct whisky region. Prohibition in the US, the Great Depression and a focus on quantity over quality led to the demise of many distilleries. Today there are only two left, Springbank and Glen Scotia. Springbank is a fully independent distillery that sources all of its materials locally and is unique in Scotland in performing every stage of the production process on-site, even the bottling! The distillery, like those around it, would originally have used peat to dry its barley. However, in accordance with the commercial demands of blenders at the time, Springbank switched to drying the barley by coal for many years to mollify the smokiness of the whisky. When the local sources of coal eventually dried up the distillery, true to their mantra of local production, did not resort to importing coal. The Springbank expression is therefore now lightly peated for around 6 hours to mimic the coal-dried flavour and is then further dried by warm air for around 24 hours. The Longrow, on the other hand, is fully dried by peat for anything up to 48 hours. Another distinction is that Longrow is distilled twice as opposed to two and a half times (I'll leave that explanation for a Springbank review!) Hazelburn is a yet more recent expression and is unpeated as well as being distilled thrice, like Irish malts. It is perhaps odd that the Longrow may embody a truer historic Campbeltown character than the distillery's eponymous brand but it's a fascinating history nonetheless. And the world is certainly a richer place for the existence of both in my opinion!

Anyway on to the CV, which comes in a dowdy brown cardboard box, one which probably wouldn't catch the eye on a supermarket shelf and which you are unlikely to see in a supermarket come to that - I for one like the fact it has no pretensions! Depending who you believe, CV stands either for curriculum vitae or for chairman's vat but it certainly shows off the breadth of the distillery's product. It has no age statement but (as far as I can gather) consists of 6 or 7 year old bourbon-casked, 10 year old port and rum-casked and 14 year old sherry-casked whiskies. The liquid is light gold in colour (so no added caramel by the looks of things) and the bottle states it is non-chill filtered. With some young whisky in there the legs are unsurprisingly short. First nosing reveals abundant vanilla and heathery peat smoke with citrus hints. Despite the young malty cereal notes to the fore there is complexity present too that opens up with time in the glass. It's hard to pin down some of the notes at play, which may derive from the interplay of the various casks (Jim Murray scores the nose a perfect 25 and describes the peat as 'masterful', indeed his overall mark of 95 puts it in the liquid gold category). The taste delivers exactly what is promised by the nose, custard cream biscuits and a creamy mouthfeel, cut through with some sharp pepper, ginger and lemon. Despite the 46% abv I didn't feel the need to dilute it but a couple of drops of water didn't change the character noticeably either. The finish is not lengthy but there is a mouthwatering appeal to this whisky that has one coming back again and again to reprise the wonderful nose and palate. As mentioned, the intent was to recreate an Islay experience and, if I didn't know better, I could easily mistake this for a Caol Ila. In fact at around £33, roughly the same price point as the Caol Ila 12, I might give the Longrow the edge. I can't recommend it highly enough!
"Whisky is liquid sunshine."
[George Bernard Shaw]
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