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Depending on your source, Campbeltown is one of the major regions of Scotland. Longrow CV is distilled by the Springbank distillery in Campbeltown, which lies near the tip of a southwestern peninsula of Scotland named the Mull of Kintyre. According to the distiller’s notes, in the 1800s there were at least 37 distilleries in Campbeltown, but now there are only three (Springbank, Glen Scotia and Glengyle). For orientation, the island just to the west is Islay, which is the home of the notorious and popular peated whiskies.
You might enjoy the compact and edifying history of whisky, and Springbank in particular, on the distiller’s website: www.springbankwhisky.com/note/
Longrow whisky was first distilled in 1973, as an experiment to see if they could produce an Islay-style whisky in Campbeltown. Longrow currently has a 10 and 14 year offering, with CV as the latest edition. CV stands for Curriculum Vitae, which in Europe refers to a summary of ones significant work experience, and which somehow also refers to a blend of Longrow whiskies of various ages. Springbank used to offer a CV … because they lacked a mid-range, they just mixed the young and old together.
Color: I usually do not comment on color, but Longrow, as with its sibling Springbank, is a golden yellow, accented with an olive greenish tint … resulting in a somewhat light olive oil or motor oil interpretation. This off-color is ultimately mysterious and alluring, and indeed boosts the Longrow experience. And finally, there is no extra coloring added and it is not chill-filtered.
Bottle Nose: Like steam escaping from a pressurized tank, removing the cork releases a captivating bouquet of essences of oily peat, glue, rubber, brine, marzipan, banana, and caramel. This is already quite a lot to deal with.
Glass Nose: A more subtle sweet, fruity, briny, peatiness. This is not of a smoky character, but rather the sweet, aromatic, peaty essence of Springbank. Water had no effect for this review.
Palate: There is a deep oily texture that delivers an engaging rich and creamy, sweet and peaty brininess, along with some cinnamon, spice and sweet almonds. There is so much going on here, that you really should allocate a bit of extra time to ponder and contemplate this experience.
Finish: Medium, nicely warm, a bit spicy, slightly drying and satisfying … a wrap-up of the engaging complexity you just encountered.
Conclusion: Longrow CV is neither a fine, elegant nor reserved whisky, but rather it is engaging, intriguing, complex, colorful, flavorful and memorable. Longrow is gregarious, and more fun than most of its neighbors from Islay. This is a colorful, folksy and happy whisky, and while the fine popular Islays have a place in my cabinet, they are usually quite one-dimensional and reserved compared to Longrow (I was going to say “boring”, but I didn’t).
The peaty character of Longrow (and Springbank) is that of a sweet sulphur, rubber and maybe bacon character, as compared to the Islay fire pit smoke (in my opinion). This is not fireplace, road tar, auto shop or seaweed, but rather an intertwined sweet, briny and peaty composition with numerous flavor harmonics. If you like Springbank, you may like Longrow CV even more.
And, to share with you, the west highland trio, that I have recently been pleasantly enjoying, you need to have Springbank 10, then Longrow CV, and finally Ledaig 10 (from Mull, just up the sea). These all seem to share the same genes with increasing levels of depth and intensity. And, too bad my Jura Superstition and Bruichladdich Rocks are all gone, as they would somewhere belong in this picture as well. I also plan to soon publish a review of Ledaig 10 … hopefully before that bottle is gone !
Finally, I feel it is fair to disclose that I did not yet read the many other reviews on Longrow CV, so as not to be influenced. But now I can hardly wait to see what you other Connosrs wrote about this whisky ! Isn’t his is one aspect that makes Connosr so much fun :-)
Score 92/100 in this peated, non-wine-finished category.