Whisky Odyssey
Old-fashioned with a twist of the modern 

Longrow 21 keeping the name of the brand alive

Longrow is the peated whisky that is produced at Springbank for a few weeks a year only. Besides the peat, also the distilling regime is a bit different from the Springbank single malt, in that it is more traditionally double distilled. They also produce the unpeated triple distilled Hazelburn. Springbank itself is made with in a 2.5 times distilling method.

With the popularity of peated whisky, I am still a bit baffled by the fact that Longrow is not produced for more weeks a year. The quality of the spirit is amazing, and hits a sweet spot around the mature age of 10 years old. Sadly, the attraction of the Longrow range leaves a little to be desired. The former 10 years old and the 100 proof, that were second to none in quality, have been discontinued for a while now.  

The regular Longrow is now simply called “Peated” and although a decent enough single malt, a step back from those 10 years old. Assisting the NAS-bottling in holding up interests in the brand are the expressions called RED, which I have trouble to find something in that I truly like. Not the biggest fan of wine influenced (infused) whisky. My heart just does not jump from the idea of putting Longrow in Pinot Noir casks. Anyway, finally, there are also some older age stated Longrows, so let’s try one of those today.

Longrow 21 years old (2023 edition), bottled at 46 % abv

Makeup: A vatting made up out of 65 % sherry casks with the remaining 35 % being bourbon casks.

General impressions: The sherry speaks louder than the peat influence, we are rather more on smoky oranges and caramelized fruit. With a little time to breathe, it does release some charcoal. Did they use Jack Daniel’s barrels for this perhaps? That impression is soon swept away by a more meaty side revealing itself. Every time you pick up your glass something new pops up. Attractive!

The first attack on the tongue is that of salted liquorice, balanced out by bitter wood and dry cacao powder. Quite oily and concentrated to keep on the tongue, very pleasant. A lot of the fierce Longrow character has been mellowed by age. Very rounded. It tastes less sweet than expected after taking a few sniffs. It is more earthy than sherried. The peat has become anecdotal, fully integrated in the complexity of this whisky.

Conclusion: I can understand diluting this to 46 % to maybe gain more bottles to sell, and I am sure at Springbank they tested if 50 % abv or a higher strength would have been better. For me, this Longrow stays too much on the one-dimensional side, with exception of the aromas rising from the glass. But compared to the Springbank 21 it falls a bit behind. Still, a dram to ponder the meaning of life over.

Score: 89 points

Disclaimer: taken from a self-bought sample from the Springbank Tasting Pack – November 2023, at the Springbank Distillery in Campbeltown.

Share this on your social media! - and check mine while you're at it :)