What was the occasion: Big ole Whisky Tasting, and we’re into what some would call the “loud” whiskies, others would call them the “strong” whiskies, and I’d say they are peated. Because we’re starting peated whiskies and using flowery language confuses the internet dwellers.
Don’t tell me it doesn’t, it’s been 10+ years of writing these and the amount of comments on what I meant by now could fill their own reviews.
What whisky did we review? Longrow 11 Red Tawny Port Cask Matured is the 2022 release of Longrow Red, a yearly release of a Longrow that’s been placed in a red wine or fortified wine cask, typically as a finish or second maturation. Some of the fortified wines come out more purple but I’m not going to colour police them, mostly because the term “colour police” seems like the next dystopian step that Florida is going to take.
This particular one was placed in Tawny Port Barrels for 4 years, similar to the 2014 release, save those were “Fresh Port” casks and it was fully matured in them. Similar age though, so I’m all here for it.
What’s the distillery? Longrow is the heavily peated release from Springbank distillery. If this is your first time with Springbank, you’ll recognize it as that whisky you want to drink but can’t because the demand is through the roof on it to the point where I don’t think we have roofs anymore.
Springbank is actually one of the few remaining distilleries in Campbeltown, which at one time had 30 different active distilleries. One of those now mothballed distilleries were named Longrow, and the whisky is named after it. No, I don’t know what original Longrow tasted like, I haven’t won the lottery twice yet.
What’s my bias? I hesitate to use the terms “fan” and “stan”, as the connotation behind both were meant to be negative traits (being fanatical or a stalker fanatic) and now seem to be worn as a badge of pride for the terminally online (like myself).
That said, there’s really not a better term, as I’m a big, big fan of Longrow. I’m a huge fan of Springbank in general. I wish I could afford more of it, but I also realise I have quite of whisky in my life, so it’s an occasional treat (like pork and beef).
Oh, and I’ve tried to hunt down a sample of every Longrow Red made too. I don’t think I’ve had all of them, but I’m not going to say no to trying more of them. I’ve generally rated them very high as well.
Very biassed would be the answer we’re looking for then. Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Bottled: October 5, 2022
Cask type: Ex-bourbon casks for 7 years, Fresh Tawny Port Barrels for 4 years.
Number of bottles: 8,400
Colour: 7.5YR 7/8
Nose: BBQ restaurant, orange, peanut brittle, cherry
Nice sweetness and smokiness, some fruit, good nuttiness, and some acidity to cut through the fat and sugar. Tastes very nice. One of those whiskies you can nose a long time.
That said, we’re talking Longrow Red here, right? Should I be more complex? It’s nicely complex. But is it super complex? I don’t want you, the reader, to be confused. This has no rough sides, one very complex note, and everything gets along. Also the Port doesn’t overwhelm. That makes it a good, close to great nose, but I’ve had better. Then again, maybe that’s getting rare.
Taste: Anise, dandelion, wood, brown sugar, grapefruit
Less complex now. More grassy/spice, some wood, and some tartness. I feel the stronger sweet notes are missing from the initial. Also the smoke is woodier than before.
So I like it, but not as much as I like the nose because it’s missing flavour notes to balance it all out. Or perhaps I’m addicted to sugar and smoke flavours. Both can be right at once.
Finish: Grape, smoke, grass, green banana, funk/grape
Smokier, simpler, and thank goodness, finally showing off some funk at the end. I love Longrow funk and this delivers at the end with it. Which is like being promised a cake and getting a cupcake at the end of the day.
Maybe I am addicted to sweets. Something to think about.
That all said, I do enjoy the funk and starch/tropical notes versus the taste, however it’s still much simpler than before. But it still all works nicely.
Conclusion: Solid, good amount of smoke and tart overall, loved the finish though even I can admit it’s simpler. Look, I have biases, like anyone, and let’s put them out there: It’s funky, smokey, and tart. I like those things, so I enjoy it and if you do too, you’re buying this. Heck you’ve already bought it.
Now if you’re planning on buying Longrow Red at an auction and you have to figure out which to buy, that’s a different story. Allow me to help that one unicorn person.
It’s about as good as the previous port cask, though I liked the previous one just a bit more. I also preferred the Australian Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon casks. That said I think I was alone on one of those.
That’s all to say: I still think Longrow Red is delicious, and barring last year’s release (which I have yet to have), I can’t say they’ve dropped in quality.
Scotch review #1639, Campbeltown review #84, Whisky Network review #2370