Douglas Laing ‘Directors Cut’ 25yo Longmorn

The first of the 25th Wedding Anniversary Bottle Reviews……

From my favourite Speyside Distillery , Longmorn , this Indy bottling from Douglas Laing was distilled in April 1989 and bottled in June 2014 at 54.2% . Longmorn seems to be one of them distilleries that get even better with age .

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 The Colour of ripe straw (pale gold) , the nose is a cornucopia of exotic fruits (as expected of a Longmorn) , there is Honey , spices , a nice maltiness and a touch of freshly cut meadows . The palate is soft , smooth and velvety , Again lots of fruits , spices and a touch of oak . The finish is long with Cinnamon Apple pie and Vanilla Custard . A delicious malt , as a Longmorn should be , the only thing i would say is it hasn’t got the ‘umph’ that the older SMWS Longmorns had but it’s still worth the investment !

Holiday Tasting Notes……

Seeing we’re taking it easy (me not driving anywhere….) on the first bit of this holiday and it’s a wee bit wet thought i’d Spend the afternoon watching the trains go by whilst writing up some tasting notes of samples provided by my good buddy Bobby B . A fairly mixed bag…….

Longmorn 2012 7yo 58.3% (Our Own Cask) 

Yes the last cask in my portfolio has reached 7yo , from a Bourbon Barrel (with recharred ends according to Mr Logan) . Pale straw in colour , the initial nose proves its youthfulness, there is still a few years of maturing to go, the Longmorn character is there , to say it’s a bit of a fruit bomb is an understatement, citrus, exotic fruits, vanilla , absolutely gorgeous!

The palate is silky smooth with a symphony of fruity delights , wow, the finish is long ,peppery, loads of spices , Magnificent !!!

To say we have scored for another brilliant cask would be stating the obvious but I wouldn’t have expected anything else from a Longmorn !

Berry Bros Sherry Cask Matured Blended Malt

Have no idea what is actually in this one but it was bottled at 44.2% , a deep Amber in colour, the nose is indeed sherried, there is a touch of sulphur (not a good sign….) but no distinguishing features. The palate has the usual sherry features, Christmas Cake etc , but nothing to let on its origin . Finish is long and sherried. A decent enough dram let down by sulphur on the initial nose , but I have to say it’s not a patch on the Blue Hanger Batch 4 which is the bench mark imho for BBR Blended Malts formerly known as Vatted…..

A.D. Rattray 8yo Royal Brackla

Not a malt I’m not that well acquainted with , apparently it was finished in a Calvados cask for 18 months (which makes me think straight away there was something wrong with the original cask and/or spirit…..) and bottled at 56.2% , a brightish gold in colour, the nose is a bit strange , presumably the calvados, quite sweet but nothing outstanding. The palate is even weirder, sweet and spirity, the finish is……. i’ll Pass on it……. Not one to dash out and buy a bottle of IMO 

Wolfburn Morven (Lightly Peated) 

A new malt to my palate , no age statement given , bottled at 46% , very pale straw in colour, on the nose it’s definitely peaty ! Sort of young Islay in the Laphroaig area. The palate is pleasant enough , no nastiness, a rather enjoyable Peated dram , finish is smooth , peaty and longish. Not bad but if I wanted a dram like this i’d look to Islay and probably a Laphroaig……

Whiskybroker 10yo Fettercairn

Bottled at 56.5% , bright gold in colour and presumably from an ex-bourbon cask given the number of bottles . Lovely fresh nose , lots of vanilla , gorgeous fruitiness and maltiness. Great Start ! The palate continues the niceness of this dram again fruity and malty , wonderful! The finish continues on the previous themes , grand stuff !

Taking the Longmorn out of the equation (for bias sake….) this has been my favourite dram so far !

Whiskybroker 9yo Ardmore

Distilled 20/10/2009 and bottled at 58.4% after 12 months finishing in an ex-oloroso cask , the colour is a light amber . The nose is a nice mixture of the Ardmore peatiness and sherry , the palate is also extremely enjoyable , again a nice mixture of both flavours and very balanced, the finish is lovely and long . A very good dram , well finished by Martin , another dram I could have gone for ! 

Before I move on to the last two drams I have to say (and Bobby knows this , probably why he keeps sending me them…..) I’m not a huge fan of Arran Malt whisky , I thought it had huge potential when I first visited it in the 90’s but to say i’ve Been underwhelmed by it is a huge understatement……

Arran 18yo 52.9%

Not a great deal of detail about this one , bright gold in colour, the nose is pleasant enough , getting jam rolly polly and custard , a strong maltiness , the palate continues the jaminess (strawberry) , the finish is long and spicy . A pleasant dram , probably one of the better Arrans i’ve Had .

Whiskybroker 10yo Arran 

From a Sherry Hoggie, bottled at 57.4%, a light mahogany in colour, very Christmas Cake on the nose , slight maltiness, but not a lot else . Again on the palate it’s Christmas Cake and sherry but no distinguishing features…… The finish is long and sherried , what I don’t get about Arran are the distillery characteristics, this could be any dram , there’s nothing to say it’s from Arran , a session dram that would please an undiscerning drammer, preferred the first one to be honest…….

So as this tasting session has progressed the sun has come out , I’ve had a N.E.R T2 , a S.R. Schools Class and a B.R. Class 37 go by , turning into a perfect Afternoon!

Two 15yo Longmorns……

I like Longmorn , it’s the best Speyside ( and Non-Islay) Whisky by a mile in my humble opinion .

I like it so much that when i got a chance i bought a cask of new make with a group of like minded Longmorn lovers . I had a few bottle through my hands , especially SMWS bottlings ( oh to buy those ancient ex Sherry beauts again at the same price……) , today we’ll be sampling 2 15yo’s……IMG_0506Longmorn 15yo Bottled by Gordon and MacPhail  

Distilled in 1999 and bottled in 2014 at 43% , from Refill Cherry casks apparently , pale gold in colour , lots of ripe bananas and malt on the nose initially . Then rich vanilla custard with a huge dollop of marzipan , the palate kicks off a bit spicy , then progresses to a fruit cocktail with cream . The finish is again spicy and goes on a while for 43% .

An absolutely delightful Longmornt hat doesn’t disappoint even at 43% , so glad i picked this one up when i saw it at The Lindisfarne Winery!

Longmorn 15yo O.b.

THE Classic Longmorn , bottled at 45% and unfortunately no longer available . Golden Marmalade in colour , Once again the nose commences with malt , then digestive biscuits , loads of vanilla and a touch of the Longmorn fruitness . The palate is definitely a cocktail of fruit mixed in with a delightful spiciness . The dram flows smoothly across the mouth , the finish is long and extremely spicy .

The extra 2% certainly seems to make a difference giving it a tad extra punch .

Both are really good drams but the O.b. takes it with a bit more presence .   

A Bank Holiday Weekend……

The Whitsun Bank Holiday (as it’s known in the UK) is the second long weekend in the Month of May , We decided to make the most of it and partake in a couple of trips…… 

Saturday 28th May

It’s been a few years since we’d seen the cask of Longmorn we have a share in , it ws in it’s first year the last time we seen it , it was then stored in Bladnoch when it was under the stewardship of Raymond , since then there’s been a change of ownership and a change of storage facility , it’s now in a warehouse at Creetown owned by Raymonds son Martin . It’s been over a year since we last saw Martin so we could kill two birds with one stone so to speak , Catch up with Martin and check up on the Cask ! Ok 3 birds , pick up some bottles off Martin……. We set off from Newcastle earlyish on the Saturday , Well earlyish for a Saturday Morning start…..

It was very overcast when we left Newcastle but by the time we’d reached Dumfries (after the obligitory Coffee and cake stop) the sun was out and made it a glorious drive along the lovely Galloway coast . Martins business has progressed since we last popped in , so has his family with the recent addition of a 3rd baby boy Ben ! Martin gave us a tour of the premises before taking us to the recently opened warehouse , it was only recently he got the documentation off HMRC to start using the warehousing and he’s been busy moving casks in . Our cask is currently stowed in the Traditional style , in a stow 3 casks high , he is moving towards the Racking way .

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We removed a sample and had a quick taster from the cask…….

bhw_001Longmorn 2012

4yo at 61.3% , from a Fresh Bourbon Barrel 

First thing that strikes you about the nose is the sheer fruitiness of it  , Very Longmorn like , there’s also a big dollop of vanilla and a slight lack of youthfulness ! For it’s strength it doesn’t wreak havoc with your nasal passages . A lot of fruitiness on the palate again, bags of spices but the palate does show it’s age , it’s still thoroughly drinkable . The finish is Long , fruity , spices . A drop of water calms the palate down a lot and brings the fruit further forward and reduces the youthfulness .

An amazing dram at 4yo , very , very enjoyable but still needs a few more years . heading the way of a 7yo Longmorn that I purchased from the SMWS many moons ago that was so damn go I bought multiples of it .  

Martin also  gave us a try of an 8yo Craigellachie from a refill sherry butt ( Very nice but still needs a bit more time imho ) before heading back to the office for a coffee , a bit more of a natter and to collect a couple of bottles……..

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Bunnahabhain 23yo

46.3% , 156 outturn , ripe straw in colour £66.50

A wonderfully intriguing nose , very relaxed (as you’d expect at 23yo) , the usual confectioners sugar along with a touch of exotic fruit , ripe banana , after a little while there’s a lovely butterscotch toffee note appears . Great nose , one of them you could sniff for ages . Lots of hot spices to start with on the palate , was expecting more of a sweetness to it but it actually reminds me of a 1980 Bunna I had bottled by BBR , not a standard tasting Bunna but very enjoyable .A medium finish with clove and spices.

An enjoyable Bunna but I said not a standard one palate wise . Didn’t try it with water as it’s perfectly ok at this strength .

Ben Nevis 18yo

53.5% 264 Outturn 1/10/1996 – 15/07/2015 Hogshead 1329 light gold in colour £45 at the time.

A Sweet nose , Marzipan very akin to Battenberg cake , Vanilla , there’s a touch of Christmas Cake even though it doesn’t say whether this is a Bourbon or a sherry Hoggie .
A Bit of a bizarre palate , Wood spices to start with , Lemon , quite a sharp citrus note , then a sweetness keeps bouncing in , again there is a hint of sherry . A Long finish with a mixture of Sweetness , Lemon and spices and again a sherriness .

A bit of a strange dram but thoroughly enjoyable.

After we bid farewell to Martin we headed back East to Newcastle .

You can find Martins Business at Whiskybroker.co.uk

Sunday 29th May

After a more leisurely start to the morning  , we headed up north into the wilds of Northumberland to once again visit Cragside in Rothbury . We decided to do a short Woodland Walk this afternoon , once again it was overcast when we left Newcastle but the sun had appeared by the time we arrived at Cragside . The walk took us up the back of the House……

bhw_003A quite steep walk to start with but it did give us a good view over Rothbury……

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We were hoping to catch a sight of an elusive Red Squirrel but got treat to a local Raptor…..

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off we go…..

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Bye !

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We actually had 4 Raptor sightings this day , 3 on the drive back to home . The walk back to the Visitor Centre gave us some good views over the Estate ,One of the estate cottages…

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Which looks over Tumbleton Lake…..

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and has baby lambs in the field in front of it…..

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After such an exhausting walk it was only right we treat ourselves to a National Trust Cream Scone and Coffee before heading back home !

3 Tasty Samples

It’s not often i buy samples but i wanted to try a few so i purchased 3 off the Master of Malt site….. 

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Douglas Laing Director’s Cut 1989 25yo Longmorn

Longmorn is my favourite Speysider , i’ve been keeping an eye out for a 25yo to add to my bundle of 25yo’s  i’m collecting for our 25th Wedding Anniversary in 2019 . From a refill Bourbon Hogshead distilled in April 1989 and Bottled in June 2014 at 54.2% , it is a pale straw colour in the glass . The nose is extremely fruity and fresh , almost the old Opal Fruits , very buttery and vanilla , quite spicy as well . A wonderful Nose ! The palate is peppery , also lots of oak spices , still lots of fruit but the spices dominate . The finish is quite long with a lovely pepperiness to it .

A Lovely Longmorn , good balance to it and a worthy addition to the “Silver 25” list !

Glenfarclas 25yo

I’ve always had a soft spot for Glenfarclas , it was the First Distlllery Melanie and myself ever did a tour in back in the 90’s , we’ve shared some great old Farclases from the SMWS so a 25yo wouldn’t go amiss on the “Silver 25” list . A very soft sherriness to the nose , the traditional Christmas Cake – cake dough , dried fruits , glace cherries – and a hint of Coffee . The Palate pretty much carries on from the nose with the addition of chocolate and Cola cube sweets , A very sweet medium finish to it .

A Lovely Glenfarclas , definitely a future one for the list…..

Caol Ila 1998 15yo Unpeated – 2014 Special Release

Coming in at a whopping 60.4% , i’ve been want to try this one for a while , i’ve had the 10yo , 12yo and Stitchells Reserve .

Pale Straw in colour , the initial nose is fresh green apples , VERY fresh green apples ! Touch of lemon and Malt . Wow ! This is an incredibly fruity little number after the Apple it bursts into a bulging bowl of fruit , Wonderful ! The fruit continues on the palate , excellent , highly drinkable at the full strength of 60.4% . Really Spicy as well , becomes very Apple Pie and Custard after a while , the spiciness continues into the finish . With a touch of water it certainly calms it down a touch but seems to take a bit of it’s bite away .

An excellent dram , the unpeated spirit seem to get better with age .

A purchase since……

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The “Silver 25” List Currently stands at 9 Bottles……

25s

  • Ardbeg Lord of the Isles
  • SMWS 1978 25yo Brora 61.20 (labelled 61.2)
  • Bunnahabhain 25yo O.b.
  • SMWS 1980 25yo Caol Ila 53.98
  • Bladnoch Forum 1984 25yo Caol Ila
  • Laphroaig 25yo O.b. 2013 Bottling
  • DL Directors Cut 1989 25yo Longmorn
  • Bladnoch Forum 25yo Port Ellen
  • The Wine Society 25yo Islay Single Malt

Two from WhiskyBroker…….

Ardbeg and Longmorn , a perfect Combination ! Ardbeg independent Bottlings are getting harder to find , when Whiskybroker put this one up on line last Wednesday it sold out in 15 minutes . He also put several other Single Cask bottlings up at the same time , i was predictable and ordered the Longmorn…….

Ardbeg and Longmorn

Ardbeg 20yo Cask #434 , 46.6% , Distilled 16th March 1992 , Bottled 12th February 2013 , Outturn 222 Bottles .

From a Hogshead , it is a light Gold in colour for it’s 20 years in the cask , well nearly 21….. The nose is initially peaty which is a bit of a surprise given it’s age ( normally the peat would have dissipated at this age and be more iodiney so may suggest a not very active cask) , quite citricy (Lemon) , there’s also a hint of the Ardbeg creamy Coffee ,chocolate and pine nuts . After a bit of breathing the peat subdues . More of the same on the palate , a tad more lemony , very relaxed across the mouth with the Ardbeg-dine appearing but still not as prominent as say in a 1970’s bottling . The finish is long with peat , lemon and creamy coffee. A very good Ardbeg which seems to have been in a decent cask given the time at which it was bottled ( Allied were filling mainly for blending so casks weren’t the best at times) . A BIG Thumbs up to Martin ! Especially at £65 a bottle…..

Longmorn 20yo Cask #71773 , 55.5% , Distilled 25th May 1992 , Bottled 13th February 2013 , Outturn 220 Bottles .

The Longmorn is also from a Hoggie (same parcel as the last two i bought off Martin) , the colour is also very similar ,  The nose is quite sweet and spicy , lots of oak spices , almost bourbony , there’s opal fruits there as well . A really nice nose . The palate is almost identical , spicy and fruity , with a touch of wood . It glides across the mouth . The finish is medium with wood spices (bourbony) . A very good dram , i still wonder about this parcel , either it was special casks ( along the lines of toasted etc) or they were very fresh ones . Worth a punt at £44.60 a bottle .

Have a look at Martins site at WhiskyBroker.co.uk

A few drams……

Sunday 1st April

Not as good as day as yesterday , getting on to dreich would best describe it , but sunday is a day of rest and we always take it easy after the long day of yesterday . So a lie in , brunch , a quick drive over to Bowmore , a natter to John Maclellan , getting the Fire ready for tonight and now…… trying a few samples of whisky kind friends have sent me over the past few weeks ! 

First up the newest 1990 Bunnahabhain Cask from Berry Bros and Rudd courtesy of Rob , where are all these 1990 sherry casks coming from ? This one is Cask 18 and is 53.1% abv , light mahogany in colour , incredibly rich fruit cake on the nose along with the Bunnahabhain sweetness , definite Christmas cake special . The palate continues on from the nose , a very luxurious , oily dram , a very good sherried Bunnahabhain . There is just a slight hint of “meatiness” on the finish but nothing to spoil the overall enjoyment . A big thumbs up from the delightful Melanies direction as well……

Carrying on the Bunnahabhain sherried theme , the next one comes courtesy of CJ from the Whisky Base shop , a 10yo bottled by The Whisky Agency at 46% from Cask 909 . Dried fruits , cake mix and the Bunnahabhain sweetness (Edinburgh Rock) come through on the nose and palate only this time with youth in it’s favour the Bunnahabhain traits have an easier time over the sherry .  A nicely balanced  Bunnahabhain with the spirit and sherry in good harmony .

Now a slight diversion away from Islay , A 2000 highland Park from the Whisky Base Archives selection , bottled at 50.9% from an ex-bourbon Hoggie it’s very pale in colour , light Chardonnay wine , light and creamy at first on the nose , then banana and fruit salad . The palate is sweet , creamy , nettles (?) , peppery and a little spirity . The finish is spicy but also a little immature , i suspect this wasn’t a very active cask and could have done with either leaving alone for a while or reracking , not you usually Highland Park that’s for sure .

Now on to possibly my favourite non-Islay distillery , Longmorn , this one is a 1988 23yo from Refill Sherry Hogshead #14379 in the First Cask range , abv 52.6% . The initial nose is leather , furniture polish then an astonishing amount of fruit ! Also toffee and very dry sherry . The palate is again dry sherry , dark chocolate , cherry liqueur and creamy coffee . A very good and very different Longmorn to the Independent one’s i’ve been used to , i can now see where the famous old SMWS ones came from with this one .

Next up it’s back to the Archives range for a 1975 36yo Glen Grant , bottled at 46.6% from Hoggie #5476 . An incredibly fruity dram both on the nose and palate , the nose also has an artificial cream tang to it . The palate also has an added spiciness to it with a twist of pepper . A really nice , old Glen Grant .

The Penultimate dram , a 2004 7yo Archive Ledaig at 61.9% from Hogshead #900009 , another light dram , chardonnay wine in colour . A quite light nose , green peat / mossy  , very vegetal with a waft of smoke . The palate is very young tasting , medicinal , lemony but just about drinkable . This definitely could have done it a few more years and it isn’t a patch on the young Ledaig BBR released a couple of years ago .

Lastly it’s back to Islay for a 1998 13yo Laphroaig Archive bottling from Bourbon Hoggie #700228 . Pale gold in colour , the nose is medicinal but quite fresh with lemon . The palate isn’t too powerful (it’s abv is 54.2%) , quite lemony with the medicinalness , not a bad Laphroaig but i’ve had better .