Swaggering in a flouncy dress – Longmorn 10 year 48.3%

Longmorn is one of those distilleries that sometimes gets missed and often over-shadowed by its more prominent neighbour BenRiach. And yet after a particular birthday in Singapore, Longmorn will always be one of the very few distilleries I’ve sampled from my ‘birth year’ – 1969!

As for this particular dram – it came from That Boutique-y Whisky Company. One of the things I get a kick out of from this bottler are their labels and the stories these graphic-novel style images tell:

Back in 1894, the Longmorn distillery was founded in Speyside. Four years later, the founder John Duff founded a second distillery a couple hundred metres from Longmorn, called Longmorn 2: Electric Boogaloo (maybe not that last part, but it was called Longmorn 2 until it became BenRiach). The two distilleries worked together, and eventually had a private railroad built between them to transport barley, peat and other sundries. In fact, if you visit Longmorn today, you’ll find a steam engine in the distillery – a sneak peek of which you can see on our Longmorn label.

For us, as interesting as the story around the distillery is… it is the stuff in the glass that matters most! So what did we find?

Longmorn 10 year Batch 3, 48.3% (TBWC) 1793 bottles (available in 2019)

  • Nose – Toffee, salty, creamy… a lip smacking creme caramel, fruity, apple strudel, carrot cake, freshly baked bread, bit floral too
  • Palate – Unexpectedly lively – fruits come to the fore with more apple, pear and even some berries then the white and black pepper spice kicks up in a delicious interplay
  • Finish – Peppery with a tangy citrus zing that mellows into honey

There was much more oomph and character on the palate than anticipated from the aromas. We found of all sampled that evening, this one had the most ‘swagger’ and ‘spunk.’ And yet was still dressed up in a pretty flouncy dress with all the fruit, floral and baked goods… just strutting about with dock martins!

Here are tasting notes from the chaps over at Master of Malt:

  • Nose: Sponge cake with honey and strawberry jam initially, then a bit of floral barley and toasted oats. A hint of orchard fruit and wood spice underneath.
  • Palate: Baking spice, toffee and dark fruits, with some minty herbal notes, orange zest and drying oak.
  • Finish: Black pepper heat develops alongside white grapes and shortbread.

Would I agree? Pretty much jibes with what we found… Our mini came as part of the Master of Malt 2019 Advent Calendar and was tasted one fine weekend in Dunkerton, Somerset. A full bottle would set you back around GBP 77.

What else did we try that summery evening?

As for other brushes with Longmorn? Just check these out….

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An aptly named Mackmyra Äppleblom

I goofed up a bit here… after the delightful Brenne, I intended to continue with the Mackmyra Äppleblom. But mixed up my minis and we cracked open and started tasting the Vintergold instead – oops!

Why I wanted to follow the Cognac finished Brenne with the Calvados finished Äppleblom was an expectation of sweet progression before getting into the curious combination of PX and Swedish Mulled Wine finishes with the Vinterglöd.

However my tasting companion and I were able to ‘roll with it’… here is what we found…

Mackmyra Äppelblom 46.1%

  • Nose – Lots of white orchard fruits, joyous pears, apples, delicate, toffee, vanilla cream, tangy citrus edge, wood shavings, banana nuts, fruity, apple blossoms
  • Palate – Started a bit softly then the flavours blossomed all around the palate, quite fruity yet also a bit peppery, then a touch of tobacco leaf?
  • Finish – Nicely lingers, anise, orchard fruit

We found the nose much bigger than the palate on this one… when sampled after the Vinterglöd… but when we set aside and returned to resample in the intended tasting order – wow! This one really had a delightful sprightly character that nicely built on the Brenne aperatif.

Based on this experience, I would be curious to try more Calvados influenced whiskies. And would say this ‘apple bloom’ is rather aptly named!

How much would it set you back? EUR 60.

What do the folks at Mackmyra have to say?

Mackmyra Äppelblom is an elegant single malt that was distilled in Mackmyra Bruk. Finally, the whiskey was stored in oak barrels, which were previously saturated with Calvados from Christian Drouin.

Its spicy balance is made up of the light apple tones in the Mackmyra distillate, the stronger and rounder apple aromas of the Calvados and a generous amount that the barrel contributes. The result is a whiskey with a hint of apple and a hint of ripe pears, citrus fruits, almond caramel and cedarwood.

  • Nose: Fruity, light floral aroma, gentle tones from bourbon and new American oak barrels with a little vanilla. Rounded off with caramel, oak and cedar, along with some toasted bread. Complemented by fruity nuances of apples, pears and lemons. 
  • Taste: Fruity, spicy aromas of apples, ripe pears and citrus fruits. A hint of vanilla, to which cedarwood, anise, white pepper and ginger are added. An impression of caramel-laden vanilla rounds off this slightly oily textured whiskey. 
  • Finish: Fruity and spicy notes emerge, accompanied by a hint of oak and soft apples.  

What else did we try in our Dunkerton Drams evening?

These were all part of a 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar.

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A Christmas ode with Swedish Mulled Wine – Mackmyra Vinterglöd

I will admit to having a mixed response to some more experimental wine maturation combinations. Not all are a smashing success, in my humble opinion. However how are unique gems discovered without someone taking a crazy idea or playing around? So I entered into this particular tasting with an open mind. Thinking of how much I enjoy the tart tasty mulled crabapple and red wine of my Canadian youth and have adapted to the sweeter avatar I find here in Germany.

Intended to come after the Mackmyra Äppleblom, the Mackmyra Vinterglöd is uniquely finished in a combination of PX and Swedish Mulled Wine casks.

Mackmyra Vinterglöd 46.1%

  • Nose – Initially a whiff of agave, then spicy cinnamon, light Christmasy notes dancing about, then sour plum, Chinese sour cherry, a touch of pine or balsam fir, then some chocolate – yum! More Christmas oranges and cloves, ginger snap cookies
  • Palate – Ginger, sour cherries… the Christmas orange and cloves on the aromas followed through beautifully on the palate, caramelized ginger peel
  • Finish – Dry spice kick, a bit bitter, sweet leather and licorice, cinnamon spice,

Distinctive and even more so when we returned after some time. Really quite interesting… it reminded me of orange bitters, herbaceous and deliciously sweet… like a Ricola swiss herbal lozenge.

What do the folks at Mackmyra have to say?

Mackmyra Vinterglöd (winter glow) is…inspired by the Swedish winter tradition of drinking mulled wine during the colder months of the year.

Vinterglöd carries notes of orange, candied fruit and almond, together with oak and a ginger-like spiciness. The aromatic profile of the whisky comes from its aging in casks that previously held Swedish mulled wine and Pedro Ximénez Sherry.

Vinterglöd is a collaboration with Saturnus Glögg.

  • NOSE – Spicy with berries, fruits and light oily notes. Toasted notes of vanilla, oak and caramel fudge. A light warm and oaky spiciness with a hint of tar and mineralities. Sweet notes of raisin, marzipan, citrus and pear drop. Blackcurrant notes of older whisky are found together with spicy and herbal notes of aniseed, ginger and tobacco leaves.
  • TASTE – Spicy with a nice balance between fruits, berries, oils and oak. Blackcurrant, pear fudge and grapefruit. Pleasant spicy oak with hints of tar and tobacco leaves. The texture has a light oiliness.
  • AFTERTASTE – Oily and spicy with berries and a light dryness towards the end.

What else did we try in our Dunkerton Drams evening?

These were all part of a 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar.

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A delightful desert whisky – Brenne Cuvée Spéciale 40%

We wanted to start our Tasting with something lighter, summery, sweetly satisfying…  delightful desert dram influenced by maturation in a Cognac cask.

I shared with my fellow tasting companion Alison Parc‘s story – from ballet to booze, America to Europe (with an ex desi connect too). With her focus on terroir with barley, use of French Limosine Oak and ex Cognac casks, she’s pulled off a distinctively feminine style… I remembered how much the Whisky Ladies enjoyed the Brenne Estate Cask, which lead me to be confident this would be a terrific start to our tasting.

Brenne Cuvée Spéciale 40%

  • Nose – Initially greeted with apple blossoms, overripe bananas, a touch of cinnamon spice, then the banana became even more prominent – inviting us to indulge in banana cream pie… we kept returning to find shifting deserts and sweets… from bannoffee pie to a banana strawberry smoothie to candied fruit to lightly salted taffy popcorn, creme brûlée
  • Palate – So silky smooth, pure liquid desert in a glass, banana toffee, pineapple, milky Parsi toffees, french pastries… was that a hint of coconut? Light coco? Whatever the different elements, it is simply delicious!
  • Finish – Drying yet delightful… softly sweet tail…

We came back for a 2nd round with the last drops of our sample and delighted in the bubblegum… yes bubblegum! In this case, it is more than just a childhood flashback, it somehow manages to be playful and elegant at the same time. Frothy but not completely frivolous. Certainly not classically Scottish yet still very classy.

To be honest I’m not sure if the Cuvée Spéciale is simply a different branding in the UK for what was available as Estate Cask in the US. When we compared our experience with the Whisky Ladies in 2017, it could have been the same – just with much more banana in our tasting than found earlier. This could be due to Brenne’s approach to bottle from a single cask or be a ‘sister’ expression.

Our mini came as part of the Master of Malt 2019 Advent Calendar and was tasted one fine weekend in Dunkerton, Somerset. And while I can’t speak for its availability in all parts of the world, it seems to be relatively accessible in the UK, Europe and USA – in the range of GBP 55 or so.

The chaps at Master of Malt have this to say… and I’m inclined to agree:

  • Nose: Vanilla flowers arrive on the nose first, paired with pear drops and dried mango.
  • Palate: Brandied cherry and red rope liquorice. More vanilla, a hint of cinnamon spiciness and Nutella.
  • Finish: Chocolate raisins, pineapple and coconut ice.

A lovely start to a most civilized evening of exploring a few drams in Dunkerton.

What other French drams have made their way to our collective tasting adventures?

France

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European Trio – Brenne, Mackmyra Äppleblom + Vinterglöd plus Longmorn 10

We found ourselves in a late summer evening in Dunkerton, Somerset, relaxing in the sitting room with an abundance of minis from the 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar.

We were in a light, summery mood….

My eye spotted a trio of European whiskies – one I knew would be delightful desert dram influenced by maturation in a Cognac cask (Brenne), another I anticipated would be equally cheerful with a Calvados cask finish (Mackmyra Äppelblom) and the last was something of a departure with a combination of PX and Swedish Mulled Wine (Vinterglöd). That was to be it, but I was curious about the That Boutique-y Whisky Company Longmorn…. so a trio became a quartet! (sneaky Longmorn!)

What did we try?

This was part of a much larger set of minis – the 2019 Master of Malt Advent Calendar to be precise – chock full of whiskies from around the world. So stay tuned for even more mini sessions! While we didn’t manage to get through all 24, we did a respectable job trying 12 whiskies in three different sessions… this was the 1st and a most enjoyable kick off!

PS I don’t normally show either myself or tasting companion however this was truly such a memorable trip and I just have to say a huge thank you to our amazing hosts and friends!

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Paul John Tasting – Goa, Aug 2019

Another from the archives… the most fabulous weekend getaway to Goa with a couple of the Mumbai Whisky Ladies in August 2019. After a fascinating tour of Paul John distillery, we sat down for a tasting. Yes the standards were there but Michael had a few samples of some very special bottles also available for us to explore…. And wow! There definitely were a few we thoroughly enjoyed.

We had all the ‘usual suspects‘ which we’ve enjoyed before and the friendly Nirvana 40%.

Then we graduated to some special expressions…..

PX Cask Strength

  • Nose – Quite an intriguing aroma – subtle yet distinctive with cherries and berries – particularly lingonberry, a nice tartness too
  • Palate – Very smooth, follows through from the nose yet even sweeter
  • Finish – Clear PX stamp

Overall we found that every element is in harmony with this one.

Oloroso Cask Strength 

  • Nose – Initially vegetale, reminding us of the ground beneath foliage, shitake mushrooms, that umami element, then coming up from behind came aromas of plums, dates. After the 1st sip, the Oloroso sherry elements shone through more clearly – sweeter, plum pudding and vanilla icing
  • Palate – Started a bit bitter but quite interesting, oily, wood, dates, a kind of density and depth which was distinctive
  • Finish – Wow! Quite different from the palate, very long

With this one, we found it needed more time to open up. There was something almost ‘funky’ initially – like a hobbit whispering tall tales in your ear. However overall grew into a colourful character – a strong, bold, dynamic whisky.

XO Grape Brandy 48?%

  • Nose – Different from a traditional cognac… almost more like a spiced rum, lots going on, quite active, heady, apple cinnamon spice yet sophisticated
  • Palate – Intense
  • Water – Opens it up considerably, sweeter, fruitier and much smoother

Approx 9 years and expected to retail for approx. INR 12k. Great peacock packaging.

Mars Orbiter 57.8%

Like a mythical creature, this one came and went from global shelves in a blink of an eye! So too was our tasting, just a drop at the close of a remarkable Paul John session… we were left with the impressions of sweet aromas, a bright explosion on the palate, leaving tasty raisins and sweet spices in the finish.

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Glengoyne 12 year 43%

For a week, Glasgow was my ‘base’ of operation – with a couple days off to explore. We took a day trip to Edinburgh and another to Isle of Arran plus I popped over to Glengoyne one day. It was completely worth the trip – though a cool, stormy, wet day – I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘light touch’ tour – all within the limitations of being responsible in these COVID times.

Naturally the highlight was sampling whisky – in my case it began with a wee nip of the Glengoyne 12 year in Warehouse No 1 before I continued to my “Malt Master” experience.

So I followed the same approach with my tasting companion back in London. It had been well over a year since we had sat down to enjoy a mini together and was a perfect way to ease back into whisky tasting.

 

Glengoyne 12 year 43%

  • Nose – Started with a bit of varnish then quickly shifted into vanilla, sweet honey, over ripe fruits, custard… as it opened more there was a dusty powder, then banana cream pie, lots of caramel, all having a light touch, teasing and inviting rather than over powering
  • Palate – Light spice, dry wood, more of the fruit and baked goods.
  • Finish – Again light, closing simply on “yum”
  • Water – Didn’t even try… no need

What is interesting is my impression in Scotland was leaning more to the sherry side whereas sitting in London, I found much more influence of the ex bourbon cask.

Overall we were quite happy with our sample – a nice sipping dram – easy to sit back and enjoy. For my companion it helped dispel a less complimentary experience we had with the Glengoyne 21 years ago.

What do the folks at Glengoyne have to say?

Lemon zest, toffee apples – and a scent of coconut. Our signature sherry wood brings intensity and richness, while first fill bourbon casks add fresh notes of citrus and vanilla. 

  • Appearance – Natural, rich gold.
  • Nose – Coconut oil, honey, lemon zest, dried oak.
  • Taste – Toffee apples, ginger, orange, shortbread.
  • Finish – A hint of sherry, soft oak and cinnamon spice. Very well balanced.

Cask Recipe

  • 20% 1st  fill European Oak Sherry
  • 20% 1st Fill American Oak Bourbon
  • 60% Oak Refill casks

What about other Glengoyne tasting experiences?

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TBWC – Auchroisk 12 year 47.9% (CNY Tasting Set)

Auchroisk is the last mini in our That Boutique-y Whisky Company Chinese New Year tasting set. Auchroisk isn’t one of those “we have history stretching back hundreds of years” kind of distillery. Nope. It is a more modern entry into the whisky fabric, built in 1974 for blending – think J&B Rare.

What did we discover with this particular cask strength single malt?

Auchroisk 12 year 47.9%, Batch 7 with 2,400 bottles. GBP 23.95

  • Nose – Dried leaves, herbal sweet, sweet grass, lemon, sweet spice, caramel, malty, wet cloth, all sweet smoke, think chestnuts roasting
  • Palate – Sweet then smoke, restrained yet spicy, herbal – think Underberg
  • Finish – Very dry, more of that nutty slightly sweet element

I honestly wasn’t sure I would like this one… nothing against the distillery but with the lovely summer weather I wasn’t keen on even a lightly smoky dram. Whereas this one so gently curled that element into the mix and was so smooth and easy to sip that any misgiving dissipated! Instead, it became more and more enjoyable… it was completely lip smacking in a delightfully autumnal way.

What do the folks over at Master of Malt have to say?

The zombie apocalypse has returned in the form of the seventh batch of this delicious indie Auchroisk! This one was matured for 12 wonderful years before the folks at That Boutique-y Whisky Company bottled it up at 47.9% ABV. If you look very carefully at the blood-curdling label, you’ll see that, amidst the chaos of finding people to recruit to the undead, one of the zombies has found the time to get his hair dyed. Self care, and all that.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

  • Nose: Through dry smoke there’s fresh malt, lemon peel and dark berry syrup, with plenty of toffee, coconut husk and brittle.
  • Palate: Warming baking spice adds an initial burst of spice. Lime peel, caramel and orchard fruit bring sweetness. A little salinity and smoke develop underneath.
  • Finish: Delicately sweet with some prickles from ginger root.

TBWC – Linkwood 10 year 48.2% (CNY Tasting Set)

I really enjoy the fun graphic art labels that That Boutique-y Whisky Company create – often with a quirky story to go with it!

In the case of Linkwood, their choice of a fellow fixing a broom is quite apt… and here is why:

The Linkwood distillery was founded in 1821 in Speyside. It distilled tasty single malts and top whiskies for blends until 1971, which is where it gets a little confusing. In 1971, Linkwood was expanded with two more stills, although these stills actually belonged to a new distillery, which would be called Linkwood B. In 1985, Linkwood A (the original Linkwood) was closed down, making Linkwood B just Linkwood. It’s a different distillery, but it’s still Linkwood. Right? It’s a bit like that chap with the ship and had all its wood replaced. It’s the same ship, even though everything has been replaced. Right? The chap on the label is fixing a broom – the owner has had the same broom 20 years just with different heads and handles. It’s still the same broom, though. Right?

And so we dove into the Linkwood B.. I mean Linkwood distillery… you get the picture! What did we think?

Linkwood 10 year 48.2%, Batch 7 

  • Nose – Mmm… lemon grass, a dash of pink Himalayan salt, green peppers, wax, lots of character, lemony spice
  • Palate – Fresh green chillies, black peppercorns, touch of garam masala, dry red chillies… yes this sounds spicy but actually an interesting yet light melange of different peppers, peaking out from underneath these was a lovely fruit bouquet, a bit thin on the palate but quite tasty
  • Finish – Bitter almond, light liquorice root

While not the most amazing Linkwood I’ve ever had, it was interesting. The citrus, spice and light salt made for a curious combo that somehow worked quite well.

What do the folks over at Master of Malt have to say?

  • Nose: Saline, lemony nose, with spicy black pepper and lemongrass
  • Palate: More spice; black pepper and chilli, then citrus fruits, oranges, limes and lemon rind
  • Finish: Even more peppery spice and some hazelnut

TBWC – Speyside #3 8 year 50.7% (CNY Tasting Set)

The weather in London while we’ve been here has been absolutely stunning – glorious sunshine, warm breeze… in short it feels like full blown summer instead of being mid September.

So it is somehow fitting that our Chinese New Year tasting set had a few more summery drams – with this Speyside clearly very much in keeping with our environment.

Speyside #3 8 year 50.7%, Batch 1 

  • Nose – Started with a bit of resin, restrained orchard fruits – mostly pears, hint of ginger… in short delicious! Fresh and juicy, then stewed fruits… light liquorice, then shifting back into fresh pear then stewed apricot – wonderful!
  • Palate – Peppercorns, fruity with a lovely nice mouthfeel, pears and apple crumble then shifting into melons, then a lightly bitter edge
  • Finish – Lovely long finish – fantastic! Imagine apricot leather – yum!

Like all the whiskies in this particular tasting set, we didn’t even think of adding water. However I did wonder later if that might bright out even more juicy fruits. This was my favourite of the evening, followed by the Glenburgie.

And here are the tasting notes included with our Drinks by the Dram package:

  • Nose – Lots of new make character, fruity cherry and peach notes with grassy vegetal flavours
  • Palate – Fiery alcohol, very peppery, but tempered by some sweet notes, green banana, and a creamy texture
  • Finish – More spice, lingering taste of Thai green curry

We didn’t find it was so ‘fiery’ and also didn’t discover any Thai green curry, however the apricot leather finish could also be described as green mango. Interesting.