Longmorn Signatory 1992/2010 18 Year: 46% abv
Background: These are some of my favorite, but perhaps most useless, reviews. This is a limited release Signatory bottling of Longmorn single malt whisky. It is a Scotch from Moray, Scotland. Longmorn started in 1893. Through various change of hands and amalgamations, Longmorn fell under the hands of Pernod Ricard which took over Chivas Brothers. Although Longmorn has a well rated 16 year old variant, we don’t get to see much of it here in Michigan. Most of Longmorn’s stock plays a backstage role in Chivas Regal blended Scotch. Unfortunately for us consumers, that means it is hard to find one. That’s where independent bottlers like Signatory come into play. This 18 Year old is aged in a Hogshead barrel, which I’m confident previously contained sherry (PX maybe?). I normally don’t talk about price in my reviews, but in this case, at $75, this is one of the most competitive 18 year old Scotches I can think of. Unfortunately, a majority of people won’t find this exact bottling, so this might only tell you a little about the quality of Longmorn in general.
Nose: As soon as you stick your nose in the glass, you get a mixture of complex aromas coming out of this single malt. There is an intense, woody complexity displays itself proudly, with hints of vanilla, huge malty sweetness, and dry fruits. It is the dry fruit aromas sprinkled in with the bold malt that I find truly intoxicating in the nose (no pun intended). There is aromas of cranberry, plums, subtle grape, and some apple in the nose. There is also a slightly vegetal grain note to it (a sort of green note), that hides in the background and just adds a little more bulk to the scent. There is even a bit of agave smell that is present here, which is quite unique for a Scotch. There is some soft sherry that probably goes along with the fruit notes commented on earlier. This would explain the darker color as well. There is some soft spice as well, with a little tickle of ginger on the nose, followed up with gentle nutmeg. Overall, the nose is incredibly well balanced and enjoyable, with an endless amount of complexity to tap into.
Arrival: The arrival starts off just like the nose: bold and full of flavor. The initial flavor is packed with the same sherry-filled, oak heavy influence that we initially noticed. 46% paid off for this whisky without a doubt. The initial fruit notes include rich cherry, plums, succulent apple and cranberry. This is coupled with a big blast of vanilla and woodiness. There is a definite hot spiciness too, akin to cinnamon and allspice. There is also the maltiness that starts materializing in the arrival, but really making its largest appearance later on. To add to the sweetness, a bit of honey is added in, but fights against the spices and bitter pepper notes that are present in the arrival.
Body: The body is slightly less eventful than the arrival, partially due to how dramatic the arrival actually is. The body has a good showing of maltiness and woodiness to it, but the fruity flavors sort of thin out. Instead, there is a dry, semi-sweet character to the body. There is more bitterness in the body than anywhere else, but it is still very appropriate.
Finish: The finish comprises some hot, spicy notes in parallel with more vanilla and malt based notes on the gentler side of things. The spiciness is most dominant in the finish than anywhere else, and tends to overtake everything else, but there is still honey, malt, and wood flavors present as well. The finish is not as long as I would like it to be, and the flavor dies out slightly quicker than expected, but an endurance race between sherry and malt to last the longest. It is dry and has a good amount black peppercorn present. Overall, the finish is probably the weakest part of the whisky.
Nose: After adding a little bit of water, the Longmorn undergoes a little bit of a transformation. On the nose, a little more confectionary aroma is present, along with a very subtle savory jerky note as well. The malt notes are more prominent after water.
Arrival: The arrival is slightly less intense now, while still having the honey and vanilla prevalent up front. Along with that, flavors of caramel covered apples, cinnamon and nutmeg, and molasses come through in the arrival as well.
Body: The body is still alive and kicking here. The fruits are coming through more in the body now, although the whisky has to be agitated slightly to notice them. The plums and cranberries are big. Otherwise, the body is pretty much the same animal as before.
Finish: What is most surprising about the finish here is that it is even bigger than it was before. The finish lasts longer and has more intensity, bringing forth some of the ginger from the arrival, along with strong notes of honey and wood spices. The finish is still dry, and has a thin mouth feel, but it seems to be more alive after just a little water. The finish definitely has a more dusty and peppery character now.
Final Comments: Longmorn is a fairly off-the-map distillery, but I have to say, I’m more than impressed enough with their whisky. If you were to pin this up against Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and Macallan 18 Yr olds, this would be undoubtedly the best quality, best value for money, and most unique whisky among them by a large margin. It also tastes like a mature whisky, having more presence of wood and complex flavors that might not be found in a 10 year old whippersnapper. This is a personal favorite, although there is plenty to be desired in terms of complexity. Since this is the only Longmorn I’ve had, I can’t recommend them in all earnest, but I can say I will be buying another bottle someday, without a doubt.
Why you’d buy it: You have the chance to.
Why you wouldn’t: You’ll probably not find it anyway.