Longrow Red has become something of a phenomenon since it’s first release in 2012.
I was lucky enough to be in Edinburgh on release day this year and saw a couple of shops that had bottles; however they soon sold out as did online retailers. Longrow Red sells out very quickly every year, and has something of a reputation for being popular with online “flippers”, that being people who buy solely to sell later on auction sites for profit.
I read an article the other day which mentioned the idea of having bottles shipped from retailers directly to auction houses, with the purchaser never even seeing them! No wonder the price of whisky is being hiked when producers see their bottles instantly doubling in value the moment they’re sold; naturally they want a piece of the action. I personally don’t support the idea of online auctions for new releases, and my Longrow Red won’t be going anywhere near one. See above for photographic evidence of the open bottle….
Longrow Red isn’t the only bottle to suffer from this, but I do take some solace in the fact that it has become so popular and collectable because of the intrinsic high quality of the whisky itself rather than through exaggerated claims of rarity or some such marketing spiel. Speaking of intrinsic quality…
Nose: Neat, there’s embers of a dying BBQ, some lime citrus and concentrated red fruits which is possibly down the psychological suggestion of the name. It’s a fairly tight nose without water, as most cask strength whiskies are. With a few drops, however, things settle down and open up, revealing some lighter fruits such as lemon and kiwi.
Palate: Big arrival with serious mouth-filling peat. There’s a very elegant development to this, even without the addition of water. It’s nowhere near as harsh as the 53.1% ABV might suggest. It is of course natural colour and non-chill filtered and as always is all the more robust for it. There’s flavours of jam and orange marmalade, as well as slight spice (cloves?). There is unsurprisingly a red wine note here if you look for it, although it isn’t overbearing. I think 3 years in Pinot Noir casks after 8 years in ex-bourbon has been just enough to get the balance of flavour spot on. Water slows down the arrival and development and generally spreads things out a little more, whilst increasing the spiciness and emphasising the peat. In my opinion it’s great either way, but I think I actually prefer it without water. A matter of personal taste.
Finish: Long, drying, elegant, balanced.
I’m a relative newcomer to scotch, and this is a style of whisky I’ve been searching for since the word go. It’s big, bold flavours are a joy to experience. I imagine at this point I’m writing this review for people who already have a bottle and are deciding whether to open it or not, and I strongly urge them to do so.