Longrow Single Malt Review
Campbeltown. Home of Springbank Distillers responsible for Springbank, Longrow & Hazelburn whiskies, Glengyle distillery who produce Kilkerran (also owned by J & A Mitchell) and finally Glen Scotia distillery. Also calling Campbeltown home are the rather awesome independent bottlers of whisky & rum, W M Cadenhead. Once home to 34 distilleries a number of factors led to Campbeltown's whisky legacy being massacred, poor quality spirit, a fall from grace with blenders who now preferred Speyside's lighter, sweeter spirits rather than Campbeltown's distinctive oily, smoky profile, U.S prohibition to name a few. Indeed by the 1850's that number had been halved and by 1934 only two distilleries survived, Glen Scotia and Springbank.
Founded in 1828, Springbank has been owned by the Mitchell family since 1837. Although closed in 1979 it returned to operation in 1987, with full production beginning in 1989. The Mitchell family are determined to stick to traditional methods of production which means that quality will inevitably vary from batch to batch but also means that the Springbank family of whiskies garners a bit of a cult following. These traditional production methods plus fairly small output mean that the price of their bottlings tend to be slightly higher than others. A price worth paying in my view.
Longrow is Springbanks heavily peated expression of their spirit. Currently of the 150,000 litres of spirit produced, 80% goes towards Springbank, 10% to Hazelburn and 10% to Longrow. Longrow is twice distilled and peated to around 50-55ppm, the malted barley being subject to 48 hours of peat smoke to attain its character. Springbank never chill filter or add colour to any of their whiskies which can only add to the quality of their products. Although a no-age-statement whisky, Longrow contains 7 year old, 10 year old & 14 year old whiskies vatted together at an unspecified ratio.
Sea air, brine, peat smoke, vanilla, green apples, hint of melon & malt biscuit
Sweet arrival - caramelised apples, pear drops, honey, vanilla custard, lime zest with sweet peat smoke building in layers
Very warming - long, sweet peat smoke breaks into a lingering salty sweet tang at the back of the tongue & throat
A superb whisky and an excellent example of how good a NAS whisky can be. Sweet vanilla and fruits married with sea air and warm peat smoke, this is a really well balanced dram with a good deal of complexity. It retails around the £37 mark putting it into Talisker Storm, Laphroaig Select, Bowmore Small Batch territory (supermarket fodder). However, this easily trumps those rather non-descript excuses for whisky. Do yourself a favour - don't spend the money on a whim in your local supermarket on a Talisker Select Batch Reserve toilet bowl cleaner, visit your local speciality store or look online and buy a bottle of the Longrow, you will not be disappointed!