Back to Campbeltown, looking at another near-impossible to buy bottle alongside an slightly older release from the same series.
Longrow Red 15 Year Old (2022 Release)
The 2022 Edition of the Longrow Red Series was matured for eleven years in bourbon casks followed by four years in fresh Pinot Noir barriques from Grant Taylor’s Valli Vineyards in Central Otago, New Zealand.
Initially we’re getting some Robinson summer fruits squash, strawberry jam, and warm butter. Giving this a little air and there’s also some pineapple and custard. We’re not a huge amount of Campbeltown funk here. The smoke is very restrained and is coming across like the smell from a just extinguished fire.
The fruit notes are at the fore of the palate, there’s strawberry hard boiled sweets, cranberries and blackcurrant. We’re getting some ash on the mid palate / finish as the initial fruity burst fades. There’s a slight heat from the alcohol that comes across as cracked black pepper. Nice mouthfeel and good length finish. Alcohol is well integrated and this is very smooth and easy to drink even at 51.4%.
Nose (with water)
The sweeter notes turn from natural to synthetic sugar. We’re now getting strawberry fruit coulis / strawberry Opal fruits. Air reveals some warm/burnt caramel. The water has diminished the smoke even further.
Palate (with water)
With water the bourbon cask influence is now more noticeable with more vanilla coming through. Like the reduced nose we’re finding the the fruity notes have changed into sweet caramel. It’d be our recommendation not to add water as too much of the flavour is lost, and the alcohol was already well integrated.
Another great release from Springbank. We’re not recommending buying this on on secondary market as we wouldn’t want to encourage that practice, but we will say if you did we don’t think you’d be disappointed. This is an easy 8.5/10 for us.
Longrow Red 10 Year Old Malbec (2021 Release)
This release was initially matured in bourbon barrels for seven years, followed by a three year finish in refill Malbec barriques sourced from South Africa. It was then bottled at cask strength, with an outturn of 10,000 bottles at 52.5% ABV.
Initially we’re getting cherries, fresh vanilla pods and light oak. There’s the faintest hint of smoke in the background, but you really have to go looking for it. It’s quite sweet, like icing sugar when you take a deep inhale with your nose far into the glass. There’s a slight herbal note here, maybe a mint leaf dipped in sugar? There’s not too much red wine influence for us, a touch of raspberry and a little rhubarb but overall the nose is quite restrained with good alcohol balance.
Rich red fruits with a deep, earthy smoke holding them up. We’re getting strawberries, raspberries and cherries all in a bowl drizzled with a little sugar syrup… maybe even condensed milk? There’s a heavy charred oak note that is nice, but slightly overpowering for us. It’s quite dry, with a vegetal rosemary/thyme woodiness. The alcohol has a bit more of a bite than we were expecting based off the nose, but recedes quite quickly and the finish has a very good length with lingering earthy, smokey, coffee-like notes.
Nose (with water)
Water brings more of the earthy, peat smoke to the forefront, we’re getting a saltiness now that we didn’t detect before, along with a slight meatiness. There’s some tobacco and a slight chocolate note here, and a good amount of oak too. We’re not getting as much on the nose as we did without water, but the aromas that are there have intensified quite considerably.
Palate (with water)
Interestingly we’re not getting too much difference with water on the palate, there’s still lots of the red fruits backed up by the earthy peat smoke and drying oak finish. There’s maybe a little more sugar sweetness that’s come out but overall still very similar. The mouthfeel is great, alcohol is maybe slightly more balanced now and the finish still has good length.
It’s good… it’s very good for a 10 year old whisky. There’s a great balance of red fruits and smoke here, backed up with a nice sweetness, great mouthfeel and a quality finish. For us, adding water helps a little with the alcohol bite, but doesn’t change it too much (or destroy it!) as we’ve experienced with other drams. Happily take a bottle, maybe even two (if it was still available).
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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