Longmorn 1971/2004 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Distillery Label, JD/AII)

The old Jameson opened my eyes for old bottles. Not true actually. I’ve known it all along. I just needed a kick in the bee-hind, to open some more, before I one day, kick the bucket. Luckily I had a birthday two months ago, and that is always a good reason to pick a nice one from the collection and “because you’re worth it…”. Of course, “Thursday” is also a good reason in my book. 1971 is quite a legendary year for Longmorn. At Longmorn nobody will concur, because they haven’t done anything different in the years before and since 1971. However, there somehow are a lot, very good sherried, and otherwise matured, Longmorns from around 1971. I particularly love the 1971 from Scott’s Selection, although true Longmornado’s tell me there a many better ones. Great!

Longmorn 1971/2004 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Distillery Label, JD/AII)Color: orange gold.

Nose: Waxy. Old black fruits and just like the Jameson I reviewed last a bit of steam. Buttery and beautiful Sherry and black coal. It doesn’t leap out of the glass and I believe that is due to the reduction to 40%. I’m not worried yet, because these old distillates can handle a lot of water. Today’s Malts do need a higher strength. Nevertheless it seems the nose suffered a bit in power. Maybe this is one for a Cognac copita (the big balloon glass). Luckily I have a whole bottle of this, so I can experiment a bit. Slightly tarry but right after that a fresh note of faint menthol/mint. Way down deep into the nose some licorice pops up, well hidden in the dark fruitiness. Again, a wonderful old bottle.

Taste: Sweetish black tea, and again pretty fruity. Raspberry hard candy, and some cherries. The whole is quite soft, so again, maybe this was reduced too much. It’s great as it is, but I can’t shed the feeling, a lot was taken away from this Malt as well. Now it’s too damn drinkable, so I don’t think this will last me a long time. I’m sorry the body isn’t a bit bigger. I’m accepting this now and I move on. This is great stuff extremely well-balanced. A nice nuttiness comes to the fore and then even some honey. Hurray for air, breathing and developing Whisky. Great combination of fruit and the hints of tar and black coal. Tiny hint of burnt Sugar towards the end. The finish could be longer, but we’re rewarded with a wonderful aftertaste. It even reminds me a bit of some Rhum Agricole in the finish. Be patient and give it time to breathe. It opens up. wow!

I’m a sucker for Sherried Longmorns from the second half of the sixties through the first half of the seventies. These Whiskies are so good. Sure there are a lot of Longmorns around that are better than this one, but there are not a lot of Whiskies better than Longmorns like this. Give it time to breathe, it will open up and become bigger than it initially was.

Points: 91

This one is dedicated to David Urquhard (1952-2015) who passed away on 30 November 2015, aged 63.

Longmorn 17yo 1996/2013 (60.8%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #105091, 588 bottles)

Another year is almost over so this here is already the last post of 2014. What to review I asked myself? Maybe something incredibly special, something super premium or something outrageously expensive? Nothing like that. In the end I choose this Longmorn. Why? It seems like a good idea, to do none of the above, and I happened to have only one  open bottle left om my lectern that I hadn’t reviewed yet. Tying up loose ends. I hope this last year was a nice one and of course that the next one will be even better! Hope to see you back in the new year!

Dutch outfit Van Wees bottled eight heavy Sherry Longmorn’s distilled in 1996. These bottlings were rather popular, to put it mildly, since all didn’t need a lot of time to sell out. Highly collectible, but also good drinking Whiskies. Earlier, I already reviewed two casks from this series #72315 (the first release) and #72319 (the third release). Both were similar yet different, and both scored 88 points. This third review will focus on Sherry Butt #105091 (the seventh release). The first five were all sister casks #72315, #72318, #72319, #72323 and #72324 distilled on the first of May 1996. After that, three more Butts were bottled: #105092, #105091 and finally #105084. The latter was released during the Pot Still Festival 2014 in the Netherlands, making it the only one to be bottled in 2014, yet still at 17 years of age. Those last three butts were distilled on the 25th of June 1996 and yielded less bottles than the earlier butts but are higher in alcohol. There have been more butts bottled from the 723xx and 1050xx series, but those were bottled by Signatory Vintage for their own brand. Lets see if this will be another 88 points for Longmorn…

Longmorn 17yo 1996/2013 (60.8%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #105091, 588 bottles)Color: Copper brown.

Nose: Honey and quite vegetal. Especially the wood and honey make this Whisky not very distant from a very good Bourbon, although both Whiskies couldn’t be more different. Dry wood, old saw dust and dusty altogether. Burnt caramel and lots of sugared red fruits. Deep brooding and syrupy Sherry. Dark stuff from the gas light era. Elegant but more mysterious than the earlier bottlings.

Taste: Hot wood. Lots of wood and a sour note from fruit and Sherry. Coffee and dark chocolate with just the right amount of bitterness. Small hint of a sulphur compound, but the rest of the aroma’s are so powerful, Sulphur doesn’t stand a chance in dominating this Whisky. This Whisky also has a lighter side to it with paper and fern. Dark mahogany furniture with layers and layers of wax put on in its history to form this brittle woody and waxy nose.

Although I own both earlier reviewed Ultimate Longmorn’s, I haven’t opened the bottles. Both reviews were done from 6 cl samples. This bottle however, is one from my own collection I dared to open (curiosity killed the cat). The bottle is luckily still more than half full, but I had a fair chance in trying this without having to analyze it. In comparison, I do believe this #105091 is very drinkable and always leaves a good impression, but this time I won’t be giving another 88 points. The earlier releases, if memory serves me correctly, seemed to be more balanced, less dry and more fruity, than this one does. This time the added paper and fruity acidity do meddle with the balance of this Whisky, still good and I will not have any problem finishing this, but just not as good as the earlier one’s I have tried.

When compared to the Gordon & MacPhail Highland Park that also scored 87 points, the Highland Park has more raisins (dominant), coal and seems to be more accessible. It is less dry and sweeter on the palate. It is similar in quality, not higher in sulphur and actually quite nice. It is seems to me they are made for one another. I will only have to try them now in reversed order…

Points: 87

This one is for Cyril, great to hear you’re doing well!

Longmorn 17yo 1996/2013 (57.2%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #72319, 600 bottles)

I’m pretty amazed this Sherry Butt #72319 is still available. Here in the low countries there is a lot of discussion about these Sherry Butts released by Dutch indie bottlers The Ultimate (Van Wees). This Sherry Butt Sherry Butt #72319 is the third one in a row and earlier I already reviewed Sherry Butt #72315, which was the first one of the series. The second one was Sherry Butt #72318.

As I said, lots of discussion, since all casks are good, didn’t cost a lot and have some differences. So nice whisky to compare to each other. I still have some Sherry Butt #72315 left, so I can compare it to this Sherry Butt #72319. Word in the grapevine is that the first one (Sherry Butt #72315) is the “worst” of the three, all are very clear about that. Some consider Sherry Butt #72318 to be the best and some Sherry Butt #72319.

By the way I hosted a Cadenhead’s tasting recently and after the tasting, I passed a glass with Sherry Butt #72315 around, without telling people what it was, and it sure got a lot of thumbs up. So maybe some prejudice going around? Earlier I scored Sherry Butt #72315, 88 points, so let’s have a look at this “better one”…

Longmorn 17yo 1996/2013 (57.2%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #72319, 600 bottles)Color: Copper Brown (less red/orange in color than Sherry Butt #72315)

Nose: Sherry and polished wood, smallest hint of creamy acetone, soap and some mint. Definitely less raw and dirty than Sherry Butt #72315. Extremely balanced and “soft”. It does have its power, but it’s more laid back. Woody raisins are in here too, but here they show themselves quite late in the mix and more toned down and in balance with sour wood, (milk) chocolate and honey. Very thick.

Taste: Great! The first encounter in the mouth is very nice. Sherry with more than a hint of licorice and sweetness. After that the wood, albeit in a mild way, shows itself. Also some toasted cask and a wee bit of paint. These were some very good Sherry Butt’s. The finish itself seems to me to be a bit less balanced, it seems to be a bit disjointed. Probably the wood gives the finish an acidic (and ashy) touch that somehow doesn’t seem to be a perfect fit. A sourness and taste akin to oranges, (the flesh and the juice), not the oily bits out of the skin. On the plus for a lot of tasters: this one has no sulphur in the finish.

If I had to sum things up, I would say that Sherry Butt #72315 is more of a true Sherry nose, more raw and honest. Maybe also less complex. Sherry Butt #72319 is more elegant and more complex, wint small hints of all sorts of things. Both are worth the same amount of points, but are different, but is I had to pick only one I would say Sherry Butt #72315 would be my choice, since it compensates it slightly simpler profile and it’s rawness with a better finish. But I have the luxury of tasting these two head to head, which makes it a lot easier to pick up on small differences, without that possibility, both are an equally good choice (as if one still has a choice).

I don’t know Sherry Butt #72318, but the two I’ve been comparing here are definitely worth having both. They maybe examples of the same kind of Whisky (heavy Sherry), but both show enough difference to show you a bit more of the possibilities within this profile. Both demand a different mood of the taster, meaning you!  Well, now I’m very interested in Sherry Butt #72318. I hope Erik (a.k.a. Master Quills apprentice), opens his bottle soon 😉

Points: 88

Longmorn 17yo 1996/2013 (57.5%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #72315, 606 bottles)

Suddenly this Longmorn appeared on the market. It’s color resembling Longmorns from the early seventies that were near perfect. This Ultimate bottling gained a very quick reputation of being a very good Sherried Longmorn. This sold out very quick, so Ultimate owners van Wees decided to bottle a second cask from this series: #72318, and is said to be even better than cask #72315. Alas Cask #72318 sold out rather quickly too, so Van Wees bottled a third one: #72319. That one should still be available, but already I heard a fourth cask is being bottled. If my information is correct there still are two casks left from this series, to make six in total. Let’s have a look at the series first one, cask #72315.

Color: Deep orange brown.

Nose: Raisins, musty and dusty. Typical Oloroso I would say, but it could also be a PX Cask. It smells very balanced and nice, no off notes whatsoever. Paper and some sawdust, and a little hint of lavender soap.

Taste: Thick sherry, almost syrupy, but again, only added bonuses, without any off notes. Spicy and there is some creamy wood, but nothing you would expect from a first fill Sherry bottling. Milk Chocolate, and some toasted wood. Very rounded out and easy even with its high strength. Never really harsh. Late in the finish an unexpected kind of acidity shows itself.

Overall the roundness and creaminess is great since a lot of those first fill bottlings can get woody and harsh, but this one is not. If there is a flaw than that’s the simplicity of it all. Is that a problem? It lack a bit in the complexity department is probably a better way to put it. Lovely stuff, taste, don’t analyze. A winner also due to the price of the Whisky. (around 60 Euro’s).

Points: 88

Longmorn 15yo (45%, OB, Circa 2002, Litre)

I just found out that Longmorn isn’t on Master Quill yet! Longmorn is one of my absolute favorites. Just have a go at a sixties or seventies fruitbomb or heavily sherried expressions from the days the stills were heated with coal. Sometimes it almost tastes like the coal went into the whisky too. A liquified locomotive. But no use crying over spilt whisky and let’s start-up with this old 15yo. This 15yo is no more and was replaced in 2007 by the current 16yo. So it’s off the market for five years now, but bottles are found in some shops and are still fairly cheap at auctions. Also the packaging has dramatically changed. The 16yo new bottle has metal and leather glued to it, and has an intricate box. This 15yo looks fairly simple. Surely Longmorn are capable of making a pretty good standard whisky? Lets find out how this eighties distillate behaves, and maybe we get a chance in the future to compare this to the new 16yo expression. I tasted the 16yo once in 2009, and scored it a measly 81. I hope it got better in the mean time.

Color: Copper gold, caramel.

Nose: Spicy and slightly smoky. Apples (not the skin), and heather. Vanilla ice-cream. Creamy with the slightest hint of pine. Malty and it smells quite sweet. Nougat. Powdery with wet leaves and even some wood.

Taste: Full sweet body, with a tad of almonds. Powdery texture. (no there is nothing floating in my glass). This does have its bite. I get apples again, half sweet and half sour.

In the whisky market of today and definitely in the whisky market of tomorrow which will be taken over by bottles without an age statement, something like this is hardly possible. Aged for so long, and bottled at this strength. This is pretty good stuff, and only a few can still drink this as their daily dram. It seems they can’t make it like this anymore…

Points: 86