Longmorn 12 year old

Bottled by Gordon & MacPhail

One evening, well over a year ago, I was browsing the online catalogue of a major drinks retailer when I spotted a few whiskies in their ‘Clearance’ section. One of them happened to be this 12 year old Longmorn bottled by Gordon & MacPhail, so I picked it up for around the AU$50 mark and thought I’d give it a go.

Longmorn bottle

Aside from the official 16 year old (which is the only current official bottling), we don’t really see that many Longmorn expressions in Australia, not even indie bottles. The distillery itself has quite a high capacity (around 3.5 million litres per year) with most of it destined for Pernod Ricard blends, like the Chivas range. With a production capacity of that size, there seems to be plenty of whisky going to the independent bottlers out there and some of them are bottling expressions that are well worth trying! (I’ve tried some fantastic Longmorn in the past).

Longmorn 12

Not an awful lot of information on this one apart from the 12 year age statement and 40% ABV. I’m almost certain it’s been chill-filtered and if I had to guess, I’d say it’s more than likely made up of refill bourbon casks with a smattering of refill sherry casks in there. I’d probably consider this to be somewhat of an entry level malt if you will.

Notes

On the nose I got all of those classic soft Speyside notes like green pears and apples, freshly cut grass, some light zesty notes and a mild honey sweetness. There’s also a hint of funky cardboard.

Very thin on the palate, with some mild baking spices up front, followed up green apples, some barley/cereal maltiness and a hint of marmalade. It finishes quite dry with some oaky spice and powdered ginger, whilst that cardboard note from the nose seems to work its way in there too. Overall I found it very mild and mellow with lots of soft pleasant notes, but also a couple of oddities that unbalanced it slightly.

Longmorn box

The bottom line

It’s not the most complex dram (but then again, I wasn’t expecting it to be), but it’s still quite an enjoyable, light, summertime whisky. I’d probably consider it as a pleasant alternative to the likes of the Glenmorangie 10 year old, or Glenfiddich/Glenlivet 12 year olds, perhaps a tad less-refined though. Nice work Gordon & MacPhail, looking forward to trying more from your range in the near future!

Highland Park Dark Origins

Could there be a new Highland Park on the way?

If this recent label approval is anything to go by, it looks like there could be a new, No Age Statement, Highland Park in the not-too-distant future.

HP Dark Origins

Non Chill Filtered? That’s certainly a good start. 46.8% ABV? Another step in the right direction in my books. Double first fill sherry casks? Oh please let this be as good as it sounds! Anyone who’s experienced the depth of flavour from a quality, well-sherried Highland Park will know exactly where I’m coming from.

No further info at this stage, but here’s to hoping we find out more about this release soon.

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban

12 years old, 46% ABV, American Oak and Ruby port pipes, Northern Highlands, Scotland

Around 2008, Glenmorangie released what we now know as the current range of  ‘extra-matured’ whiskies. The range of three includes Lassanta (finished in ex- oloroso sherry casks), Nectar d’Or (finished in sweet French sauternes wines casks) and this one, Quinta Ruban which has been finished in Portuguese ruby port pipes.

Quinta Ruban

To arrive at these ‘extra-matured’ whiskies, Glenmorangie start with their standard 10 year old, which has been resting away for ten years in American white oak (first fill and refill casks).

They re-rack this whisky into the wine casks mentioned above for a further two years of maturation, bottling each expression at 12 years of age. The other big difference between the extra-matured range and the standard 10 year old is that they’re each bottled at 46% ABV (instead of 40%). They’re also non-chill filtered – preserving loads more of those delicious oily flavours.

Quinta Ruban label

Did you know…

Glenmorangie have long been considered one of the pioneers of cask finished or ‘extra-matured’ whisky. Well before the current extra-matured range was released, Glenmorangie were re-racking their whisky into various wine casks, as far back as the late 1980’s. Some of these casks were pretty exotic too! Truffle Oak anyone?

Often referred to as one of their best and one that collectors regularly pay big dollars for is their 1975 Tain L’Hermitage. Distilled in 1975, it was moved into Côtes du Rhône wine casks in 1999, then bottled in 2003 at 28 years old (there was also an original version bottled in 1995, but it’s as rare as hen’s teeth).

Nose

The first thing I got was more spirit than usual, not surprising given it’s bottled at 46%. Sweet vanilla bourbon notes from the American white oak are there, but they’re dominated by a rich sweetness. Not super fruity, but more sugared plums, cherry and wine notes. I got a hint of spice and also some curious fresh/cooling notes – butter menthol of some sort?

Palate

On entry, this has a reasonably oily mouth feel and is quite sweet and creamy. I also got a fair amount of spice on the side of my tongue, but it dissipates rather quickly, leaving behind a second wave of creamy sweet plummy notes, some dark cherries and a slightly tingling raspberry jam flavour. The port has had a big influence on this one.

Finish

The spice on the palate fades as fast as it arrives, leaving behind a really curious tingling sensation, almost fizzy or carbonated in a sense. Can’t say I’ve experienced that sensation in a whisky before! Some light oaky bitterness, nice medium length warmth and some traces of that cooling butter menthol from the nose start to emerge.

Comments

Even though the port finish is pretty heavy on the nose and palate, this is still unmistakably Glenmorangie. I love the fact it’s non-chill filtered and that they’ve bottled it at 46% ABV (makes me wish the standard 10 year old was the same).

I personally found the fizzy tingling sensation a little odd and the port dominated a bit too much for my liking, taking away from the more delicate Glenmorangie notes that I really enjoy. In saying that, I can definitely see this being enjoyed by many as a great digestif style whisky.

Whiskyleaks: The Balvenie 15 year old

Are you a fan of this little number?

Whiskyleaks

I am, which is why I’m putting this news out there – sort of like a public service announcement for The Balvenie fans.

After hearing a few different rumours about the future of The Balvenie 15 year old single barrel, I recently had the chance to set the record straight. The chance presented itself when Dr Sam Simmons (The Balvenie’s Global Brand Ambassador) was in town holding a series of tasting events and it went a little something like this:

Sam: ‘C’mon guys, I was told you would have some really good questions for me!?’

The Whisky Ledger: ‘Alright then, here’s one for you. I’ve heard that the 15 year old is being discontinued and replaced with a sherry version. Is that true?’ 

*sideways glances and crickets chirping*

Okay, so it was a bit unceremonious of me to put him on the spot like that, but I had to know! All credit to Sam for handing the question like a true ambassador and not giving too much away.

Let’s just say, if you’re particularly fond of the Balvenie 15 year old single barrel – with its American Oak vanilla creaminess, hints of spice and classic honeyed Balvenie notes – then you might want to add a bottle or two to your Christmas list. I can confidently say that it’s being discontinued.

Don’t let those tears dilute your whisky too much though, because it’s not all sad news. The American Oak (bourbon cask) version is being replaced by a single barrel sherry version. Given the quality of The Balvenie’s sherried whisky in expressions like their doublewood and Tun1401, I can only imagine how luscious it’ll be – especially if it stays around the 47.8% ABV mark. I can’t wait to try it.

The new 15 year old expression will also be joined by a 25 year old version and another unspecified expression. No further info on release dates or price points just yet.