Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Review / Longmorn 23 years old

This whisky forms part of The Secret Speyside Collection from Chivas Brothers, a 15-strong selection of single malts from the company's lesser known Speyside distilleries. Four distilleries feature in the collection - Braes of Glenlivet, Glen Keith and Longmorn are all currently in production but have much of their production allocated for the company's extensive range of blended whiskies. The fourth is Caperdonich, which has been closed since 2002 and is now demolished. There are three Longmorn expressions in the collection - this 23 years old, plus other age statements at 18 and 25 years old (this is bottled at the cask strength of 52.2% ABV). All are non chill-filtered and of natural colour. 

The Longmorn distillery was founded in 1894 by John Duff and is located about three miles south of Elgin in the Speyside region of Scotland. It was joined by Longmorn 2 (this is now called Benriach) nearby in 1898 and Duff connected them with an internal railway that transported malt, spirit and casks between the two. Longmorn is currently owned by Chivas Brothers and the malt produced there has long been used in a number of the most famous blends on the market. The distillery is large having been recently been expanded and now has an annual capacity of 4.5 million litres.

The Longmorn Distillery Railway in the 1950s. Image © Chivas Brothers.

The Longmorn 23 years old from The Secret Speyside Collection has been matired in American oak hogsheads and barrels, and is bottled at 48% ABV. It is available in selected specialist whisky retailers worldwide and will cost £260/ $354 US a bottle.

Our tasting notes

The colour is deep gold and the nose is packed with delicious aromas. First comes a combination of milk chocolate and golden syrup, followed by stewed apple and malty cereals. Then aromas of vanilla and warming spices come through - think of cinnamon and gingerbread especially. Hints of juicy over ripe tropical fruits also develop (imagine peach and pineapple in particular).

On the palate this whisky has a viscous and velvet-like quality. The flavours leap out immediately, especially the juicy over ripe tropicals (peach and pineapple again, plus apricot and a hint of papaya) and the sumptuous combination of milk chocolate and golden syrup. Then come the warming spices, although these have a dustier and earthier feel than on the nose. There is cinnamon and ginger again, but also all-spice and a hint of clove. Robust malted notes accentuate this and add structure. Woody notes also develop - this begins with vanilla but evolves to become more reminiscent of cedar and sandalwood. Late notes of candied lemon and orange peel, honey and caramelised pear give incredible depth.

The finish is long and warming. The earthy spices and gingerbread-like characteristics come through beautifully, especially once the sweet elements and the tropical fruit notes begin to dissapate. The bittersweet malt draws out the finish to even greater length. Delicious.

What's the verdict?

This Longmorn 23 years old is another fine whisky in The Secret Speyside Collection. We recently reviewed two of the Caperdonichs and they were delicious too (click here to read our review of them). The depth and structure of aroma and flavour here is the thing that struck us. And both are muti-layered in a way that only whiskies of this or a similar age can give. It is also a whisky that shows just why Longmorn is so highly regarded amongst the blending community. A superb dram that feels like a bit of a treat.

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