I’m a bit guilty of a bias here. Let’s jump back a bit.
I used to be part of a certain independent bottling “society” that required a yearly fee. And I also live in the most stranded non-Muslim part of the world for whisky. While there used to be great bottles released, and I still end up with some nice bottles/splits in my country, it can be tiring to see what gets dumped here.
One of the many constants were Longmorn bottles. Longmorn bottles popped up left and right. Ones with just “okay” as the reviews. And I get bitter.
So when asked if I wanted to review some older Longmorn whiskies, I wasn’t too excited.
Which isn’t fair and I was a twit. Longmorn has been around since 1893, there’s been ups or downs, they’re founder was involved in Glenlossie, a manager at Glendronach, and Glendronach. So a bunch of whiskies have come out there. They’ve been partners with Glenlivet and Glen Grant, Chivas, and are owned now by Pernod Ricard.
So today we’re going to see what Longmorn was like in 1973 and 1969. The first of these was bottled for The Nectar and Three Rivers Tokyo (holy shit talk about titans of the industry) and the second was released into the world for regular plebs like myself to bump into.
Let’s see how they taste, shall we?
Longmorn 37 1973 The Whisky Agency
Cask type: Fino sherry hogshead
Number of bottles: 252
Colour: 7.5YR 6/10
Nose: Tamarind, teriyaki, burnt sugar, brine, grass, sunflower seeds
Tropical, complex, lovely sugar notes. Reminds me somewhere between a generic Asian sauce that I have no ability to identify properly, some grassiness that goes to seed, and frankly a funk/fruit/savoury note that I’m sure is Tamarind but I’m open to being wrong.
Unique, interesting, and drawing me in.
Taste: Rockets, violets, tamarind, leather, rich caramel, coconut oil
Some sweet, some floral… Wait, Longmorn is floral? So many drams, skipped. Dammit.
Lovely caramel, some leather, more of that tamarind, and even some dry/sweet distinct coconut notes. Really loving the combination of flavours on this one.
Finish: Rockets, honey, apricot, black tea, brine, heather, oak
It starts sweet, goes somewhat floral and tart, then tannic/smoke, salty, more floral, and some simple dry flavours. This is one of those drams you keep trying to dissect and start getting to the roots of it.
Conclusion: Insane, oddly sweet, floral, and dry flavours. A really fun dram, and more than I was expecting, even given the age and the pedigree of the people picking the whisky. This has an amazing complexity that works throughout it.
That said, while it’s starting to get to greater complexity, there are aspects that seem simpler. Raw ingredients that stick out at times. A sugar-heaviness that may drag some people down. Nonetheless amazing, just something to consider when choosing this as a special whisky while out at a bar.
Longmorn 31 1969 Old Malt Cask Douglas Laing
Price: € 270
Number of bottles: 210
Colour: 2.5Y 7/8
Nose: Honey on toast, fresh marmalade, yellow plum, lilac flowers, cinnamon hearts, pineapple
Alright, you got me with honey on toast. I’m a sucker for that. On the other hand, I hate oranges more than Rutherford B. Hayes hates Florida, which is a lot.
That said… Wow, the orange is really doing it for me here. Spice, acidity, aligned. Water brings out more spice, some sweetness, but never too much.
Taste: Candied orange, plum pudding, creme brulee, papaya, mulling spices, sunflower seeds
More orange, balanced with sugar notes and now we’re seeing the complexity I felt the previous was missing. More tropical notes, more of that seed note, and some burnt sugar/complexity going on. Nothing here is missing out.
Finish: Papaya, tangerine, honey, ginger, dry apple, cinnamon toast, yeasty bread, orange Madeleines
Acidity takes the forefront, but with the time you get honey, spices, some cereal/bread, more yeast, and even a cookie flavour of cooked orange. It’s probably the weakest part of the dram, being moderate in length and not wowing me as much, but still delivers on its age.
Conclusion: Well aren’t I just a little piggy? Having two drams from our yesteryears, both from Longmorn, to turn my head around about the distillery. In the first case, we had a crazy dram that mimicked the complexity of sauces, however, we had raw elements to it that dragged it down.
In this one we saw a note I don’t love (orange) taken to a complex and flavourful level that even a hater like myself enjoyed. You’d have to be dead to not love this whisky, or the last one. It’s a tight race really, but I have to give it to this Longmorn. I’d say if I didn’t have an issue with orange that stems from cookies and a poor memory this would have easily broken 90. It’s just that complex, tight, and tasty.
As it stands I’m a petty man and it doesn’t.
Scotch review #1192-1193, Speyside review #339-340, Whisky Network review #1836-7