Sunday, April 16, 2017

Longrow Red Limited Edition Pinot Noir Cask Finished 12 Year Peated Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch

VITALS:
- $120
- 105.8 Proof
- 12 Years

My wife enjoys picking out bottles to surprise me with, usually for some sort of special occasion like a birthday or Father's Day. It's something I've really grown to love about her! When she does this, she tends to go with Scotch Whiskies, because there's less of a chance that I've had it before. So for my birthday she looked for something special, something limited, and she came home with this.

I have to admit, I was completely unfamiliar with this line. According to the label, Longrow is a peated single malt produced at Springbank Distillery in Campbeltown, and less than 100 casks of Longrow are filled each year. This particular bottling was matured for 11 years in bourbon casks and then one year in fresh New Zealand Pinot Noir casks, and on 9,000 bottles were produced. What was clear to me from the label was that there was a whole lot going on with this whisky, and I couldn't wait to dive in!

The nose is interesting. It had the traditional barley malt nose that I associate with Scotches, along with the expected peat smoke. However, those scents blended with what I'd describe as a sweet raspberry note, and in the end, it all culminated into a soft hickory smoke nose. It was like barbecue with a raspberry glaze that just made me salivate at the thought of tasting it.

On the palate, the peat is prominent but not overpowering. Rather, the myriad other flavors are allowed to come through, as though they poke their heads out through the peat smoke to hit the tongue, only to retreat back to their smokey home, kind of like a whisky whack-a-mole!

I enjoyed some delicious dark fruits hidden within, like plum and blackberry. These flavors were overlaid on a nice platform of vanilla and cereal notes, kind of like rice crispy treats. On another sip I noticed brown sugar, which balanced very well with the peat smoke and the slight heat (though I wouldn't describe it as "burn"). As with the nose, the palate was also very reminiscent of sweet barbecue ribs.

The fact that this was aged in bourbon barrels for 11 years seems to certainly have had its influence. I believe that the aging in the bourbon barrels gives this whisky its robust character and the vanilla and brown sugar flavors up front. The Pinot Noir barrel finish added further complexity, and softened the whisky with delicious fruit notes that complemented the other flavors rather than contrast with them. This whisky has a lot going on, and it's that kind of robust character that's needed for all these different flavors to come through.

This is easily one of the most interesting whiskies I've ever tried. As I said, there is a LOT going on, from the peat smoke, to the bourbon barrel aging, to the Pinot Noir barrel finish. A lot of factors influenced the flavor of this whisky. However, in the end, it was in incredibly fun pour and, more importantly, an incredibly delicious one. I certainly will be keeping my eye out for future releases!

Grade: A

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