You, knowing our weaknesses like Paris knows Achilles’, you do know that when we see the words ‘Longrow’ and ’25 years’ on a label we fall into a catatonic state from which we struggle to recover. That’s how we are, simple souls who still get excited about their idols. If there was an equivalent of the good old “Mizz” dedicated to Campbeltown, we would be subscribers – and screaming groupies. As we happen to come across a Cadenhead’s bottling of 25 year old Longrow, we try to hold back the eagerness and hysteria and pretend not to be impressed: it’s an ex-bourbon hogshead that gave 186 bottles. Let’s drink it, with the seraphic coolness of a teetotaler coroner.
N: f*** “seraphic”: this is magic. The first thing we notice is the peat, in the sense that it’s absent – or rather, it stays in the background, like a bewitching bass line that accompanies and gives meaning. The main actor is an evolved and very elegant fruitiness: very ripe yellow plums, red apples, tropical juice. Then there is Campbeltown with its trademark: that unmistakable mix of salty pebbles, matchstick and a sense of fishing nets left behind. Linseed oil and a note of dunnage, consistent with Longrow’s age and character. Peat, sea and fruit aren’t separated, but create a new, unique aroma: the structured aroma of Campbeltown. Green cedar peel.
P: let us start like this: palates like this are why we still enjoy tasting and writing about whisky after ten years. In a micro-sip there is a microcosm: a silky sweetness of fruit and noisette butter; then a lively fizz of peach, citrus and not-too-ripe pineapple; then there is the peat, which here is divided into two phases: first burnt and smoky, then gradually greener and sharper. Algae and salt, earth and stones. All this in the frame of a persuasive and extremely oily body, that encompasses and enhances everything. And with the intensity of a 12 year old, not a 25 year old, even if the abv is not too high.
F: Perfectly spherical, a continuation of the palate without detachment. Oily, a sprinkling of nutmeg on a juicy fruit salad. Smoked salt that comes out as if by magic. Infinite.
It’s forbidden to go below 93/100 here, you must know that. Longrow has often accustomed us to pushy peat, especially as it is coupled with the uncompromising marinity of the Campbeltown spirit. Here, for some obscure reason that not even a pope grappling with the secrets of a visionary shepherdess could ever decipher, all the founding elements of Longrow come together perfectly. And they do so while maintaining an unprecedented elegance and a wonderfully expressive power. The most impressive thing is the continuity of the evolution of the experience: once the nose is finished, it moves seamlessly to the palate, which changes without interruption until the very long finish. Excellent indeed. Sold out in Italy, look for it at auction if you have a wallet big enough.
Recommended soundtrack: Queen – It’s a kind of magic.