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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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.

TBWC – Glenburgie 8 year 55.2% (CNY Tasting Set)

The minis are back!! And even better – this is no solo session but instead reunited with my regular minis tasting companion – the only difference is that we met in London rather than Mumbai…

I must admit, seeing a Glenburgie in the list was part of why this tasting set made the cut! I’m quite open about being partial towards this distillery since my first encounter where I dubbed it the “Downtown Abbey” of drams. I’ve had many a lovely whisky from them – tending to find elegant, fruity summery sipping malts – sunshine in a bottle.

So what did we discover in this one?

Glenburgie 8 year 55.2%, Batch 5 with 1,891 bottles. GBP 33.95.

  • Nose – Peaches and cream, sunshine and summer breeze, peach pit, caramel, light pecan… after some time sweet cream, lemon curd or rasagola, a touch of floral
  • Palate – Peach cobler, flat white peach, toffee, peach eau de vivre, light spice
  • Finish – Light spice, almond slivers, hint of thyme, slightly bitter

Joyful summer dram… and yes various versions of peach featured quite prominently in our impression… we simply couldn’t help ourselves as it was the best way to explain various summery elements that we encountered.

My friend is often amused at my sometimes prosaic descriptions and so came up with this: “This whisky is like a girl in a field with flowers in her hair and a smile on her face.”

Fanciful? Yes… but enjoyable all the same!

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

A big hello to the fifth batch of Glenburgie single malt bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company! This one is 8 years old, and the label still features a forgetful giant searching for his giant’s helmet. Probably needs it to protect his noggin because he keeps bashing it on door frames. Because he is very tall. Because he is a giant.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

  • Nose: Melon and strawberry, with a hint of vanilla-y grist underneath.
  • Palate: Slightly peppery as it opens, but soon enough you’re treated to notes of orange flesh, green apple, buttered bread and fresh flowers.
  • Finish: Lasting fruit sweetness and a hint of thyme.

TBWC – Teaninich 11 year 47.9% (CNY Tasting Set)

Teaninich isn’t a distillery you readily find single malts at your corner whisky shop or travel retail. While part of the Diageo stable, it finds its way mainly into Johnnie Walker with limited official bottling – just part of the Flora and Fauna series.

Like many distilleries, it had a checkered past – founded in 1817 – even having an India connection with its original owner. It was sold several times and mothballed a few too, getting a complete revamp in 2013 with 16 new stills beside the old distillery which was demolished in 1999. It also is distinctive for using a filter press rather than mash tun to extract sugars.

As with everything… proof is in the pudding… or tasting in this case! What did we discover?

Teaninich 11 year 47.9%, Batch 2 with 1,987 bottles. GBP 32.95.

  • Nose – Yeasty, lemon, grassy, soda bread, dough, a bit sour in the fermenting vein,
  • Palate – Stone or chalk, yoghurt, floral, a bit sour
  • Finish – Limited with a hint of citrus and oak

Not exactly my favourite style and not sure this is the best example of the distillery either… it was a tricky style that for me at least didn’t quite work.

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

It’s the second batch of indie Teaninich from That Boutique-y Whisky Compnay! This single malt was matured for 11 years, until it was independently bottled at 47.9% ABV. The label recounts the saga of Teaninich founder Captain Hugh Munro, who lost his eye and consequently wasn’t allowed to marry the woman who he was betrothed to. Sounds like something out of a movie, doesn’t it?

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

  • Nose: There’s a lovely ripe grain element here that moves into fresh soda bread. Supple lemon citrus notes then develop among dry grass and vanilla.
  • Palate: Candied fruit and baking spice initially, before sugared almond, green apple and golden syrup emerge.
  • Finish: Toffee and lingering citrus notes.

Lagg Distillery – new kid on Isle of Arran

We didn’t actually plan to go to Lagg Distillery… our primary intent for a day in Isle of Arran was to spend time at the Lochranza Distillery and then explore a castle or two, maybe do some hiking.  However as we drove around the Island… we found ourselves passing Machir Moor, lunch at the golf club just up from Blackwaterfoot…. and there we were in Lagg… how could we simply drive past?

And yet in these strange COVID times, a visit to a distillery is a cautious and limited activity. Care is taken to reduce entry and minimize contact. Yet even with these restrictions, it was clear it would be worth stopping and spending a few moments getting a glimpse of might be possible when fully open.

What about a distillery tour? Alas not possible. A tasting? Not a proper sit down affair. However you can go to the rather lovely visitor centre’s shop. Here you can peruse books and art celebrating whisky and the island. Meander through a lovely assortment of whiskies and related paraphernalia.

And around the corner from this section was a generous range of Arran whiskies… including an opportunity to purchase some of the new Lagg distillery’s new make spirit, miniatures….

Alternatively… there is a whole wall of full bottles… just waiting to be taken home… with friendly staff happy to help share insights into the different expressions.

Or, best of all, a chance to pour your own 200ml bottle from a cask. I couldn’t resist… just haven’t decided if it will go home to hubby to Mumbai or join me back in Nurnberg.

It is a beautiful site and I can just picture enjoying a light bite in the bright central cafe area overlooking Alisa Craig, also known as Paddy’s milestone.

What about Arran samples? Though there were a few wee drops available at the shop to help decide what to buy, I skipped. However here are a  few notes from previous tasting experiences:

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North Star – Fettercairn 12 year 57.4%

Back in 1829, Fettercairn Distillery was one of the 1st newly licensed distillery in the Highland thanks to Sir Alexander Ramsay. It was sold within the year to the Gladstone family who carried on making whisky along with getting into politics – including William Gladstone who became Prime Minister. Whyte & Mackay acquired the distillery in 1973 with several official bottling and, no surprise, it also became a core part of their blends.

My earlier experience with Fettercairn was a 21 year old bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company. It impressed us with its character and complexity so I was most curious to see what this much younger one bottled by North Star would bring!

Fettercairn 12 year (Oct 2006 / Feb 2019) Refill Barrel 57.4% (North Star 007)

  • Nose – Mash-melon, herbal tea, berries and cream, sweet spice, lemon cream, apples, light and fruity
  • Palate – Spice, betal leaf, citrus, more burn than expected from the nose, cinnamon spice and tobacco leaf, almost heavy and a little bit nutty
  • Finish – There with cinnamon spice

And with water?

  • Nose – Very nice! Apple crumble, cream, drizzle of honey, toffee ice cream, apple blossoms, the berries are back – a bit tart and sweet
  • Palate – Smooth out the burn but also loses a bit of its edge and substance
  • Finish – Back to cinnamon spice

Overall it was a character! I really enjoyed what water did to the aromas and once it settled in, was also an enjoyable way to sip and savour.

What do we know about this dram? It was matured in a refill barrel, un chill filtered, and was 1 of 180 bottles from North Star’s Series 007. I ordered it online directly from the wonderful folks at North Star which made its way from the UK to Nurnberg, Germany. With shipping and tax, it came to approx GBP 74.

And what did Iain Croucher have to say about this Fettercairn? Here are his official tasting notes:

  • Nose – Black tea & gooseberries
  • Palate – Crushed bobal grapes & barley sugars
  • Finish – Hints of disco & funk

What can I say? Another hit from North Star!

What else was part of my North Star latest score?

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North Star – Royal Brackla 11 year 55.2%

I first sampled this North Star bottling of Royal Brackla in Berlin over a year ago at The Union Jack Pub. It left a positive impression of a pleasant, cheerful summery dram and I was curious to give it another go…

Royal Brackla 11 year (Oct 2006 /Feb 2018) 55.2%

  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – Candied lemon peel, maple sugar, sweet spices, some herbs – particularly basil, give it a bit more time and apples, apricots, loads of sweet fruits, waxy and lightly perfumed
  • Palate – A bright spice, then the fruitiness carries through on the palate with substance, it is a bit oily with a slightly bitter hint that lends a bit of substance to all the orchard fruits
  • Finish – Nicely there… not long and lingering but quite pleasant

And with water? Much more approachable with the cheerful apple quality even more pronounced.

What I remember from our tasting a year ago was this whisky was sunshine and happiness, apples and apricots which carried through on the palate.

What I found most in this revisit? And when I returned a few times to sip again? Frankly I stopped even thinking about dissecting and distinguishing every element and instead just enjoyed – certainly a sign a rather good dram – particularly in the summer!

Bottled in Feb 2018, North Star’s Single Cask Series 004, refill hogshead, one of 272 bottles. I purchased this bottle in May 2020 during our COVID ‘shut-in’ from Sansibar for EUR 49.58 plus 19% tax. In my books, this makes it quite an affordable for an affable whisky.

And here are the fabulous North Star tasting notes:

  • Nose – Cooked apricots, muscovado sugar and flaked almonds
  • Palate – Strong fruit jam, pain au chocolate with bitter chocolate
  • Finish – Patisseries character, with fruits and spice

Any other Royal Brackla encounters?

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