Longrow is Springbank’s peated line of whisky. It’s distilled in a regular double distillation (as opposed to Springbank’s partial triple and Hazelburn’s triple distillations) and is peated to 50-55 ppm. Longrow comprises about 10% of Springbank’s rather small production. In 2014, Springbank was operating at about 20% of its full capacity, producing only 130,000 liters of alcohol.
Springbank has moved away from NAS whisky, discontinuing the CV range and returning to a full aged range with a single exception – the Longrow CV has simply dropped the CV, and is now simply called ‘Longrow’. Frank McHardy, Springbank’s legendary master distiller who retired two years ago, said in an interview about the Longrow CV that “younger peated whiskies give you a good hit of peat, which fades as they get older, so Longrow works well with the CV format”. While the name of the expression changed, the rationale behind it didn’t.
The Longrow 14 was meant to be part of an aged range with a 10-14-18 year olds. Currently, only the Longrow 18 remains (I reviewed it here), and the current range includes the Longrow, the Longrow Red (an annual cask strength release matured in a red wine cask – currently in a port cask). The Longrow 14 was matured in both sherry and bourbon casks.
Longrow 14 Year Old, Bottled 2008 (46% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Gold, legs are quick with a lot of residue in the glass.
Nose: Vanilla ice cream, confectionery sugar, lightest touch of peat which gets a little stronger. Time in the glass lightens the sweetness and makes it more sherry like.
Palate: Peat and pepper. It’s very spicy with some notes of honey. Rather simple palate with very little complexity.
Linger: Somewhat short, it leaves peat on the tongue, spices in the back of the throat and some residual sweetness.
In a blind tasting, I wouldn’t guess this as a Longrow. It’s somewhat flat and very non sophisticated. With the rather simple palate, it just doesn’t really come together and is clearly the step between the younger CV (which I liked) and the 18 year old (which didn’t impress me).