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Sunday, 9 November 2008

The long and winding road to perfection....

As we assembled our short list for this years BiG Awards, there was a slight element of reminiscence when going back to certain whiskies we felt demanded inclusion. The Longrow 18 year old is no exception. Our first chance encounter with this absolute gem was after dinner, in a very remote farmhouse on the north east side of Islay, near Loch Gruinart.

Our very good friends Joanne and Derek Middleton had been kind enough to put Caskstrength up for this year's Feis Ile and we'd decided to cook a mammoth pasta meal, complete with Derek's freshly harvested Mussels (from sea to plate in only one hour!!)
Another whisky chum, Angus popped over and bought a rather fine looking purple box to the table, where on opening, its succulent contents were duly corked and shared around.
We never looked calls were made, emails fired off and shops tipped off that we simply must get hold of another bottle... Alas, it seemed Islay had sold its last bottle of Longrow 18 to a Scandinavian chap and we felt quite deflated, thinking that London would also be a similarly barren environment.

Then about 2 weeks later, we were musing around a well known spirit emporium in Soho and struck gold- 2 bottles, amazingly left in the store room un-loved and un-noticed, which lit up our eyes and started our mouths drooling in anticipation.

Tasting the Longrow 18 again recently alongside the other nominees was no less of an occasion, but where will it figure in the overall rankings?

Longrow 18 year old - 46% - 70cl - 2100 bottles available.

Very unique- an odd mixture of rich fudge, licorice, freshly turned earth, leather, orange zest and slight summer fruits. It really shouldn't work, but it all sits together magnificently. Left to sit a little while and more sherbet notes come through, coupled with creamy butterscotch and orange blossom. A real treat to the senses.

Palate: The treats don't stop with the nose... very light and floral, but mixed with a rich oily mouth feel, you uncover a summery zestiness, perhaps hints of juniper, more fizzing sherbets and sweet fruit gums.

Finish: At this point, my notes seem to be become invaded by Joel's hand written plea of "get me a peshwari naan", as I happened to be on the phone, ordering our takeaway for the evening. I was still tasting the fresh zestiness and elegance five minutes after the call had ended and our Indian feast was being rustled up in a nearby kitchen. Needless to say the glass was well and truly empty by the time it had arrived.

Overall: Wholly deserving of its place on this years BiG nominee list, this is a stupendous whisky and we urge you to locate one... hopefully the luck we were fortunate enough to encounter will be with you too!!