Longrow 1973/1985 (53%, Samaroli, picture of distillery label) Five stars 1973 is the first vintage when Springbank reused the brand name for their peated, double-distilled malt whisky (remember Springbank is 2.5 times distilled). They’ve also been using Longrow’s old warehouses for quite some time. I adored the official 1973s, especially the one that was bottled around 1990, with the ‘small cap label’ (WF94). Colour: straw. Nose: starts all on these very typical half-medicinal, half-mineral notes that are to be found in these old Longrows – as well as in the 1987s. A lot of gunpowder (but not quite sulphur as such), artichokes, bitter oranges, antiseptic, hints of new plastic pouch, wet gravel, putty, wet earth, seaweed, rusted iron, bandages, paraffin, horse dung, manure… Very unusual, very ‘Longrow’ and quite extreme. With water: it’s its farmy side that further comes out, together with some camphor and mint. Beautiful. Mouth (neat): just the first second is a tad wobbly or shaky (because of these slightly plastic-like or chemical notes that are really unusual) but then it’s all a wonderful development, mildly peaty, fantastically earthy, with these slightly rotten notes that are so fantastically nicer than they sound (I guess I’ll have to find another word next time). Bitter oranges, game (a lot), kippers, lime, beeswax, cinchona, ginger tonic, artichoke liqueur (do you know Cynar?), Jaegermeister, salted liquorice… What a beast! Good medium power, easily drinkable without water but still, let’s check what happens. With water: the peat stands out and it's beautiful. It’s got something of an old style Caol Ila at this stage. Finish: long, saltier, peaty, clean, with touches of Cynar and earth back in the aftertaste. Comments: this make is monstrously unusual. It’s probably a tad more, say ‘unorthodox’ than the old official 1973s but superb it is. SGP:374 - 92 points.
(with thanks to Max, Franco, Luc and Bert)