I was in Calgary in December and between old and new purchases (and purchases for others) I had too much to carry back in the checked luggage we were bringing home. One of my Connosr buddies suggested posting a box of bottles to myself, the price being similar to that of checking a bag, with less worry about baggage handlers. I was able to dispatch his bottles this way without difficulty.
It was with this in mind that I entered a Co-op liquor store in the North of Calgary. Just to get a sturdy box, mind you, but who can resist a look around? I came upon this gem. Released 5 years ago, a quick look online revealed this was selling for about twice the list price in the store. In the end all my bottles were packed in suitcases, along with two of these…
The spirit in this bottle was distilled in February 1997, just as I was beginning my clinical rotations in Medicine. After 11 years, it was transferred to fresh Burgundy casks about the time my son was conceived. After three more years, in October 2011, it was bottled. Nothing memorable happened to me in October 2011. So this is a 14 year old Scotch, bottled at cask strength, no colour added (a beautiful amber on its own), not chill-filtered. This is the way I like to see whisky presented. But is it any good?
The bottle was opened on January 2 at a tasting, and opened only once or twice after that. It is now 1/3 full. It has been gassed with Private Preserve each time.
This expression is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of (in this case a few more than a) few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.
Neat – Grape Juice on first pour. After settling, there’s lots going on here: Sweet syrup, red wine (Burgundy perhaps?), peat smoke, something savoury, like one of the smells of cured meat. Something I might describe as sulphur, but only mild and it complements the nose here, not like a sherry cask gone wrong. Very rich. Complex. 23/25
With water – The high pitched notes are less pronounced. Sweet and savoury intermingle together. Remains very rich and complex. I get some green herbs, sage or possibly hyssop. (22.5/25)
Neat – Wow! First sip explodes with flavour. Sweet peat on the arrival, cherries, sour on the development.The sSecond sip is a little spirity, a vegetal note that works here. Pepper in the development. Flint. Also very complex. 23/25
With water – The taste is a little muted, the mouthfeel a little thinner, but the flavours are essentially the same. Some bitterness comes through, but with time it settles more towards what it was, and becomes exceptional. (23/25)
Finish: Salty, astringent. I feel like I have peat breath. Nice. 23/25 With water, less astringent but a little less interesting. (22/25)
Balance: If I have one criticism, it’s that the sweetness is a little too prominent, otherwise a nicely balanced peated wine-finished Scotch.22/25 Water makes no difference here. (22/25)
Score: Neat: 91/100 With Water: 89.5/100
Score based on patience and enjoyment: 91/100
I’m very happy that I checked the Scotch aisle when I went in to look for a box. This is a very good expression, and it makes me quite eager to try an unfinished expression of Longrow.
The Springbank distillery has never failed to impress me… so far.
A year and a half later I am tasting the penultimate dram of my first bottle. This one is on my to finish in 2018 list.
The peat is still strong and the wine is still prominent. I should have checked my review before adding water, but even with water it's a really good dram.