The Longmorn Distillery, unlike its sister distillery Benriach, has been a consistent producer since its start in 1895. Meaning “place of the holy man,” Longmorn is situated in the north of Speyside, next to Benriach. Both distilleries were founded by John Duff, but like most distilleries Longmorn passed hands multiple times. In the 1970’s Longmorn merged with The Glenlivet, and hence was part of the acquisition by Seagrams in 1977. Now part of Pernod-Ricard, Longmorn pumps out 3.5 million litres a year, the majority ending up in blends.
In an effort to reposition Longhorn as a premium brand, the 15 year has been replaced by a brand-new (as of 2007) 16 year old. Also changed is the price, from $65 CDN to $100 CDN. What do you get for $35? Some arguably very nice packaging, including a leather wrapped base to the bottle. You also get another year of aging and 3% more alcohol (from 45 to 48%). On a recent visit to Shebeen, we ordered the Longmorn 15, only to be told they were out of stock, but they did have the 16 year, and at a considerable price increase. Despite this, we gave it a shot.
Being only a few years old, there are several reviews of the 16 available online, at Malthead for instance. The first thing to hit the nose is a nice blend of sweet fruit, toffee, and nuts. On the palate it is smooth with honey and cinnamon coming through. Finishes with wood and a slight sulphury overtone. Rather short and disappointing.
All in all the Longmorn 16 is an enticing malt, and of the 6 drams we enjoyed at Shebeen, this was the favourite of my fiance, and was near the top of my list as well. I’m not sure the price jump is entirely justified, but the whisky is worth a try, particularly for lovers of Speysides. If you can get a hold of some 15, maybe try that first.