January 19, 2024
On the agenda for this review is a look at a peated Scotch whisky that doesn’t originate on an island known for peat but, instead, comes from a peninsula that isn’t widely known for that, so much. I’m talking about the Longrow, produced by the Springbank Distillery, located in the town of Campbeltown, next to the Campbeltown Loch, in Argyll and Bute Council, Scotland.
Up until very recently, the Springbank Distillery has been a “single family”-owned operation - and by family, I mean five generations worth - that produces three different types of malt whiskies and the Longrow range is the most heavily peated of the three, at around 50 ppm, which puts it right up there with other leaders in the peated whisky world. Now, it has a different type of flavor profile from what you might find with, say, an Islay whisky, for example, making it distinctive in its own right. The Longrow spirit is “double distilled” and the barley is subjected to 48 hours of peat smoke in the process. In addition to that information being on the back label, I’d also like to give tip of the hat to the Malt Whisky Yearbook for reinforcing that little tidbit.
Because of a commitment to an older, more traditional way of producing their whiskies, Springbank’s annual bottle output isn’t as large as some of their fans would like (myself included), which means they don’t have as many bottles on the shelf as some other distillers, which can often make it hard to find. And a little more expensive.
This non aged statement release has been matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks and has been bottled at 46 percent ABV. The label on the bottle mentions that it is non-chill filtered but says nothing about added color, which I found strange because when I looked at the bottle of Springbank 10 that I tasted in review #33 that label states that there’s no color added. And upon further research online, it seems that Springbank doesn’t add color to any of its whiskies, so we’ll say no here. But here’s a suggestion to Springbank - you should print that on the Longrow label. It really doesn’t take up much space and it’s the sort of information that informed consumers really like to see.
The color shows off some lovely honey, amber hues in the light and I see some definite oiliness here, with nice slow legs creeping down the glass.
There is a lovely peat scent that comes off the whisky when I stick my nose in the glass. It’s unmistakable. That’s followed by a pleasant earthiness which morphs into a very, very subtle scent of brine. I also get a nice sweetness that’s hard to pin down but is quite inviting. There’s a smell of tea, although please don’t ask me if it’s a Lapsang Souchong or a Darjeeling White because I’m more of a coffee person. And finally a very pleasing light vanilla scent.I just recognize tea when I smell it.
Alcohol can mess with your taste buds if you’re not ready for it. So if this is your initial whisky intake of the day, have a couple of good healthy sips before you start to make a determination if you like it.
I get some black pepper on the tongue followed by a taste of burnt sugar (which I guess you could call caramelized sugar). There’s a pleasant yet unusual bitter sweetness that I would associate with rhubarb. Staying on the sweetness track, I get a blunt force hit like those sugar swizzle sticks you get in your more upscale bars. As a side note, I’m often drawn more to bars and pubs that don’t have fancy sugar swizzle sticks behind the bar. There is the taste of cloves. And buttered, gluten-free scones (the only kind I can eat!).
It’s right at 46 percent ABV so I’m going to let this one sit with no water added.
The finish is long and clingy. I get salt, sugar, and butter…on the LIPS! And on the tongue, I’m left with burnt sugar, sweet mash, stewed fruits, smoke, and vanilla candy.
This is a unique, deep, rich, robust, flavorful whisky. That’s a lot of adjectives for one sentence but this whisky is worth them all. I’m a big peated whisky fan and in simple terms, this is one of the best I’ve tasted. It’s different than the briny, medicinal Islay peat that I love, but it’s got a unique flavor profile that’s worth checking out, in my humble opinion. I will stand tall and say the Longrow release from J & A Mitchell and Company gets a 10 finger pour from me.
Age Statement: NAS
Chill Filtered: no
E150a caramel coloring added: no
Average Price (700ml): $90 (US)