- 102.6 Proof
- 13 Years
The "Red" series from Longrow is hands down my favorite series among whiskeys. Every single one has been absolutely fantastic, finding a great balance between the salty smoke of the peat and the rich fruit-forward notes provided by the cask finish.
This particular one, released in 2017, was matured in Malbec casks. I don't drink wine any more, but when I did, I gave Malbecs a try a few different times. I just did not enjoy them, for whatever reason. So, while I, of course, grabbed this one nonetheless, figuring how bad could it be, I went into it thinking this might be the first one that didn't blow me away. I couldn't have been more wrong, though. This was an incredible dram!
On the nose, the wine notes do seem to overpower the peat smoke, making the smokiness of it almost secondary. The aroma is dominated by rich blackberry and dark cherry, along with a good amount of oak offering a balancing bitterness. The peat is there, but comes across as more of a char note.
The flavor, though, was everything I could have hoped for. This bottle was all sweet, fruity smoke, and I loved it. Cherry and fig dominated the fruity notes, providing a dark and rich sweetness. And yet, it was never a super-sweet whisky. There was a lot of balance to it, as it also had a cranberry note that added some tartness, and that same oak from the nose to add a bit of earthiness and a touch of bitterness.
What stood out with this bottle, though, was something rich and almost meaty. It reminded me of cherry wood smoked barbecue, or perhaps a reduced cherry barbecue sauce. It had smoke, it had sweet cherry, it had sweet brown sugar and it had barbecue spice. I've never had something like this before, and I wonder how much of that was the Malbec influence. I certainly don't get notes like this from the sweeter Port or Sherry finishes.
This might just be one of my favorite whiskeys I've ever had. The nose was just good, but whatever. It's the nose. The flavor absolutely floored me, with an incredible balance of rich sweetness, peat smoke and spice that made everything go perfectly, like each note had a purpose, even down to the cranberry. I saved the last pour for quite some time, not wanting to finish the bottle, but now I just may have to track another one of these down.