Longmorn 18yo

Next up is a bit of a rare 18yo, well rare as an OB (original bottling) at least. As my previous review was of the Chivas Regal 18yo, I have decided to review one of the single malts that goes into the Chivas Regal 18yo blend, namely the Longmorn 18yo. I was fortunate to taste this whisky at a Chivas Regal tasting held at the WhiskyBrother shop.

Longmorn_18yo_Chivas Brothers_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Longmorn 18yo, 40% ABV

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 18 years

 

Longmorn was founded in 1893 by John Duff, who had founded the Glenlossie distillery two decades earlier, and production began around December 1894. The Longmorn and the BenRiach distilleries (which he built next to Longmorn) were both were affected by the collapse of wholesale buyers Pattison, Elder and Co. in 1898. The Longmorn Distilleries Company Ltd. then passed through a variety of ownerships. In 2001 Chivas Brothers was acquired by the French Pernod Ricard Group.

John Duff also has an interesting South African connection. After about a decade at Glenlossie John and his family emigrated to South Africa with plans to start a new distillery in the then Transvaal. John invested large sums of money in what would most likely of been the first malt whisky distillery on the African continent, but his plans were obstructed by the then South African president Paul Kruger as he had an aversion against anything British.

Colour: Rich deep gold colour with very many slow thick legs.

Nose: Interesting start of soap and leather before one gets into vanilla with some creamy toffee notes.   Once past the sweet notes you are met with olives (olive oil), some fresh sweet grass/hay and yellow flowers. A lovely layered, clean and fragrant nose that has great depth, complexity and richness to it.

Palate: White pepper and clove spiciness (front of tongue) starts you off on this extremely rich and intricate palate. Green fields, vegetal earthiness and green olives introduce themselves as the creamy butteryness with some vanilla joins the party. Appealing damp woody smokiness is also to be found. A remarkable palate with a thick mouth coating oiliness to it.

Finish: Very long, smooth and warming with flavour and spiciness all the way to end.

Overall: A stimulatingly intricate dram that has a splendid balance to it. This is a dram that you are meant to spend time on to full appreciate what is happening is the glass.

My Score: 83

Chivas Regal 18yo Gold Signature

Time to get back to my reviews of 18 year old whisky and this time it is of a blended scotch whisky that has an age statement. Here are my views on the Chivas Regal 18yo (aka Gold Signature). Chivas Regal’s home is Strathisla Distillery at Keith, Moray in Speyside, Scotland. Strathisla is the oldest working Highland distillery which was founded in 1786.

Chivas Regal_18yo_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Chivas Regal 18yo Gold Signature, 43% ABV (Cost around R900)

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Blended Scotch Whisky

Age: 18 years

Chivas Regal is a blended Scotch whisky that is produced by Chivas Brothers. Chivas Brothers can trace their roots back to the opening of a grocery store at 13 King St, Aberdeen in 1801. This grocery store sold luxury foodstuffs such as coffee, exotic spices, French brandies and Caribbean rums to a wealthy clientele. In 1842, Chivas Brothers was retained to supply provisions to the royal family at Balmoral Castle upon Queen Victoria’s first visit to Scotland.

The Chivas 18 year old is a blend that includes over 20 single malts from around Scotland, all who have been whiskies that were matured for at least 18 years, including the Strathisla Single Malt. Apparently there are 85 flavour notes in the Chivas Regal 18 year old.

Colour: Bright dark burnished gold to amber with many very thick legs.

Nose: Banana, dried fruits (xmas cake) and slight dark chocolate. Wonderfully rich with a butteryness to it that is accentuated with some toffee, caramel and honeyed sweetness, This is followed by a slight sweet smokiness and touch of ginger spiciness. Quite a balanced and pleasing nose.

Palate: A lovely smooth and full mouth feel greets you. There is spiciness and a sweet smokiness to it, with some richness and dried fruits. Mellow and warm drinking, with dark chocolate and a tongue tingling spiciness (sweet ginger) rounding out the palate. I do find some more individual flavour and depth to it.

Finish: Medium to long. Warm, dried fruits and spicy flavours that stay around.

Overall: I find the Chivas Regal 18yo a well-balanced and very easy drinking whisky, an almost too easy drinking whisky.

My Score: 82

Jameson 18yo Limited Reserve

Onwards with my reviews of 18 year old whisky and this time it is a short jump from Scotland to Ireland for my thoughts on the Jameson 18yo Limited Reserve. This whiskey is for at least 18 years in hand selected American bourbon barrels and European oak casks, and are finished in first fill bourbon barrels.

Jameson_18_Irish Whiskey_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Jameson 18yo, 43% ABV (Cost around R1300)

Region: Ireland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 18 years

The story of Jameson’s whiskey started on the 5th of October 1740 when John Jameson was born to a family whose motto, ‘Sine Metu’ (‘Without Fear’), was awarded to them for their bravery in battling pirates on the high seas in the 1500’s.

When John Jameson acquired the Bow Street Distillery in 1780 it was producing about 30,000 gallons annually. By the turn of the 19th century, it was the second largest producer in Ireland and one of the largest in the world, producing 1,000,000 gallons annually. Dublin at the time was the centre of world whiskey production. It was the second most popular spirit in the world after rum and internationally Jameson had by 1805 become the world’s number one whiskey. Today, Jameson is the world’s third largest single-distillery whiskey.

Originally one of the six main Dublin Whiskeys, Jameson is now distilled in Cork. In 2013, annual sales topped 4 million cases (48 million bottles).

Colour: Deep gold (old to burnished) with many thick, long and slow legs.

Nose: Black currant fruit pastilles, fruity – dark berries with more sweetness in the form of toffee, milk tart and toasted marshmallows. More tempered sweetness in some sweet and spicy wood with sweet spiciness (nutmeg) coming through as well. An absolutely beautiful and fragrant nose.

Palate: Spicy fruity burst on tip of tongue followed by grape and black currant fruit pastilles and rounding out with some nuttiness. Some of that toffee and spiciness still around. Complex with a very smooth and mellow mouth feel that has a sweet lining of black currant.

Finish: Fairly long with the spiciness and toffee sweetness that carries you to the spicy warm end. A fantastic finish, it is incredible going down.

Overall: A very well rounded and fairly complex whiskey that is exceptionally smooth with a beautiful fragrant nose and palate that delivers lovely sweet spiciness and dark berry flavours.

My Score: 82

Springbank 18yo

Continuing on with my reviews, and as I seem to be on a bit of an 18yo kick at the moment, we move from Islay to Campbeltown for my thoughts on the Springbank 18yo. This whisky is matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks.

 
Springbank_18_The Smoky DramWhisky: Springbank 18yo, 46% ABV (Cost around R1300)

Region: Campbeltown, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 18 years

 

Springbank Distillery is the only distillery in Scotland to carry out the full production process on the one site. 100% of the traditional floor malting, maturation and bottling is done at the distillery in Campbeltown.

Even the peat used to dry the malt is cut within a few miles of the distillery by the company itself. Springbank is produced using lightly-peated barley (around 15ppm) and a unique two-and-a-half-times distillation (most single malts are only distilled twice) process.

 

Colour: Old gold with many thick legs.

Nose: Rich and powerful with some soft, peaty smoke upfront. A charming vanilla sweetness follows and grows into nutty (almonds) and sweet berry fruit (strawberries and blueberries) notes. I also pick up some marzipan, dried fruit, spices and a hint of savouriness. A gentle, fragrant and balanced nose in which the complexity increases with time in the glass.

Palate: Well balanced, complex and full bodied with a lovely thick and oily mouth feel. Nice spicy burn (tip of tongue) greets you before some mellow smokiness, liquorice and aniseed leads you further in. Zesty with some salt and pepper like spiciness. All this is backed up by some honeyed and rich fruit (citrus mostly).

Finish: Fairly long with chocolate and sweet spices and a soft smokiness to the end.

Overall: A very drinkable dram that is not only powerful and complex, but backed by some lovely rich and gentler notes as well. I loved the back and forth between the sweet and spicy notes.

My Score: 87

Bunnahabhain 18 YO

The name Bunnahabhain is Gaelic for ‘Mouth of the River’ and refers to the Margadale River. The location of the distillery was chosen mainly because it is easily accessible from the mainland by boat. Furthermore, Bunnahabhain is one of the gentler single malt Islay whiskies available and its taste varies greatly from other spirits to be found on the island of Islay by being notably a less-peated dram.

Bunnahabhain_18_The Smoky DramWhisky: Bunnahabhain 18, 46.3 ABV (Cost around R940)

Region: Islay, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 18 Years

The Bunnahabhain Distillery was founded in 1881 near Port Askaig on Islay. The village of Bunnahabhain was also established in 1881 to house the distillery’s workers, and the distillery still employs the majority of the village’s workers. In 2010 Bunnahabhain increases the proof of their official bottlings from 40% or 43% to 46.3% ABV. And in 2013 Burn Stewart Distillers (the owners of the Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory distilleries) was sold by CL Financial to Distell from South Africa for £160 million.

The 18 year old is a comparatively recent release from Bunnahabhain and this single malt has been matured in an approximate mix of 40% ex-sherry and 60% ex-bourbon casks for 18 years. It was recently re-introduced as an un-chillfiltered spirit at a higher strength of 46.3% and the packaging has been slightly revised to complement the new expression. The label highlights the move to natural colour and un-chillfiltered.

Colour: Deep burnished gold with slow forming and many thick legs.

Nose: Caramelised nuts and toffee sweetness with some seaside saltiness. Also picking up notes of Christmas cake, sherried dried fruit and cinnamon. On the slight side of things there are hints of salty brininess, woodiness and malt cereal. And finally in the furthest reaches of the background a very gently smoke lingers.

Palate: Very smooth with a mellow spiciness bite. Attractive wood spice (tip of tongue burn), that seaside saltiness once again and malty. There is also fruit sweetness (pears) to it. Again some of that very gentle smoke hanging in the background. The palate completely coats one’s mouth.

Finish: Long with lingering sweet spiciness that ends in a salty, yet fruity, and dry finish. With the barest of gentle smoke at the end.

Overall: A very nicely balanced whisky with the lovely mixture between spice and fruit sweetness. The smoke is also there, but very faint and you have to go looking for it, to round it out.

My Score: 87