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I like Springbank, but I love Longrow. Maybe it's because they only distill it a normal 2 times, while the Springbank expressions get a 2.5 times, cause I don't want my whiskies to be too smooth.
What got my attention straight away when I held this bottle was all the copious amounts of particles floating around, and the white sediment covering the entire bottom. Give this bottle a swirl and you got yourself a proper snow globe. "Non chill-filtered"... I wonder if not "not filtered whatsoever" is a more accurate labeling... hold on, is that a wood chip from the oak cask floating around? (joak... no wood chips were found). I say all this as a compliment to this wonderful dram, cause it's absolutely packed with flavour. And that is the main reason why I chose this whisky for round one of NEAT vs. Glencairn . It's the only whisky I've had so far that is equally enjoyable in both glasses, yet different, and I wanted to have an even fight in the first round. (Maybe not a very scientific approach, but I gotta think about me rep as a fight promotor too, and the order of the rounds/reviews will mean nothing for the total evaluation). For this review I've both sat down with both glasses at the same time, and with the glasses individually at different evenings. When nosing both glasses I've started with nosing from NEAT first since the purpose of its shape is to reduce numbing alcohol, and if I start nosing from the Glencairn it makes the NEAT nose significantly weaker in comparison. It's a bit like coming into a dim lit room after you've been outside a sunny day, but it doesn't mean you can't see things clearly I the room if you let your eyes rest from the blinding light. (I received two NEAT glasses from Arsilica as a sample for reviewing, I purchased Glencairn my self)
Ok, lets move on to the actual tasting:
In the blue corner we have the reigning champion Glencairn, and in the red corner we have the contender NEAT. Glasses are you ready?! LET'S GET IT ON!! (actually it's not a fight, these two glasses are good buddies, I'm just trying to be cute. And I'm not really looking for a "winner", just wanna share some personal thoughts and opinions about the pros and cons of each glass.)
General nose: Malt, grape juice, white bread, chocolate.
Glencairn specific nose: From the Glencairn i could find a hint of bandaids, didn't get that from the NEAT. But I had to work hard to find the chocolate, just beside the rim of the glass. Peat is clearly present but does not come all the way to the forefront. The last tasting I had was with Glencairn alone, and after I had drank it all and had been sitting for a while with the empty glass in my warm hand, I got a nose of leather from it (I don't say this was unique to Glencairn, but I haven't tested this with NEAT so I don't know)
NEAT specific nose: Almost no alcohol burn. Unfortunately the peat also escapes to the outer edge and not joining the other good stuff in the sweet spot. In terms of enjoyment I would prefer to have these together. The chocolate and sweetness was more pronounced. One thing also that I've found with NEAT, is that I perceive the nose as much weaker after I've started tasting. The full strength nose comes back up through the nasal cavity after swallowing and the numbing effect that NEAT is trying to avoid becomes unavoidable. It is however somewhat compensated in that you can really get your nose close to the surface of the spirit when you sip. For me with Glencairn, the tip of my nose hits the rim when I sip.
Flavour: I have seen others write about differences on the palate between glasses, and I can't for my life understand how that happens. But it's people with more knowledge and experience of whisky than so I'm not gonna say they're wrong, but I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here. (How could the shape of the glass possibly have any effect on the flavours in your mouth?!). Anyways, I did not notice any differences in taste/flavour between the two glasses. But I'll be on the lookout for any differences in following rounds.
Sweet, gravy, very pleasant and gentle bitterness, malt, a weak presence of "choco-tobacco".
Finish: Salty, over fried bacon, beef fat. The salt remaining towards the end.
Other things worth mentioning about how NEAT differs from Glencairn: • No legs forming in the NEAT! Not that it make any difference to the enjoyment. But I like legs! • I find the NEAT is easier to hold without warming the spirit with your hand. I've seen others express the opposite opinion, but you can easily hold the NEAT around its narrow part of the neck with very little hand /glass surface contact. The way I naturally hold the Glencairn the whisky gets a fair bit warmer towards the end. Now I don't mind a body-temp dram, not at all, so it's not a good/bad thing for me, just different. • I don't feel it's anything difficult with holding or drinking from the NEAT. It sits well in the hand and on the lips. On the other hand the Glencairn sits absolutely perfect. Of course I have a lot more experience drinking from the Glencairn so the judging of this factor cannot be unbiased. • NEAT is wonderfully easy to hand wash.
The scoring of the whisky is based my total experience since I opened the bottle.