Longmorn Debuts Two Luxe Scotch Whiskies Aged For 18 & 22 Years
Toasting Scotch excellence with two new expressions.
At times, the best luxury Scotch on the planet, as crowded as the field might tend to seem these days, announces itself quietly and consistently, rather than loudly.
That is to say, the best things take time, patience, practice, persistence: Longmorn Scotch knows this as well as anyone. and the understated Speyside distillery is reinventing itself once more as it celebrates 130 years of pioneering Scotch.
That reinvention? The debut of two new expressions in the U.S. market (an excellent 18-year and an even better 22-year-old expression), while at the same time committing to only releasing Scotch older than 18 years going forward.
Suffice to say, consistency is the name of the game.
That’s an understatement: The distillery has actually never ceased production across more than a century, in spite of ups and downs in the whisky world. Longmorn toasted the occasion during an exclusive Beverly Hills Hotel launch event attended by Maxim in Los Angeles.
The lavish setting proved a fine match for Longmorn: At the property itself, although things might constantly be in motion, there’s never a sense of feeling rushed or hurried (an apt approach to Scotch making, as it were).
Founded by entrepreneur and whisky enthusiast John Duff in 1894, the Longmorn approach remains as determined as any, well over a century after its stills were fired up.
Duff himself built a train station in Speyside to transport raw materials to Longmorn, and while the station isn’t in use at the moment, perhaps a surge of interest will present a new opportunity to start up the railway again.
Times might have changed, but Longmorn is focused on staying the course, said Longmorn cask expert and Chivas Blending Manager Kevin Balmforth during a tasting at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel
“I think very early on, people realized the quality,” Balmforth said of Longmorn’s heritage. “It’s had this unique flavor profile… that’s the flavor that comes straight off the still, straight out of the distillery. There’s a lot of distilleries in Speyside, but very few of them have this creamy toffee profile.”
That flavor sets Longmorn apart, Balmforth said, along with its use of an underground aquifer as a primary water source. Taken altogether, Longmorn is far from your “run of the mill” distillery, Balmforth said.
The liquid itself for each release spent time in a mixture of first-fill and second-fill American oak barrels as well as hogsheads, and each step, each sip, is undertaken with precision, Balmforth added.
In a world of ultra-aged and increasingly rare luxury Scotch, the decision to focus on Scotch older than 18 years charts a future course at a price point that’s fairly accessible (at least, compared to a choice few other options).
“Whisky is a tough game to predict,” Balmforth said. “In 18 years’ time, who knows what the industry is going to look like?”
And the strategic decision to release both an 18-year and a 22-year Scotch, both delivered in elegant and refined bottles with a deep, rich purple (and newly revamped) label, wasn’t undertaken lightly, Balmforth said.
“Fundamental different flavor” comes from the location of casks in the warehouse itself, be it the 18-year or 22-year expression, and Balmforth noted Longmorn must be very “mindful” not to overpower that signature flavor.
As to that flavor, both cask-strength options have depth, Longmorn’s signature toffee notes, and touches of apple, pears and praline. And both work very well in cocktails (like a twist on the Old Fashioned, for instance). A Scotch you can sip neat, with a large ice cube or even in a cocktail? A true luxury, indeed.
It’s proven a long and winding road for the iconic distillery to get to this point, Balmforth said, but at the moment, the way forward is clear: Longmorn is here to plant a flag in the ground.