Less peaty than usual, and the nose and mouth are far sweeter than past years. This dram is complex but tightly wound together.
Nose and mouth are similar: wet wool sweater after playing in the snow; burlap, muslin curtains, silly putty, rhubarb pie, very slight caramel, wet sand, white pepper, spices in an old fashioned dense carrot cake, molasses, sea salt, minerals that are a bit like the LB 16: paraffin, wax, clean mechanics garage, coastal brine. On the mouth only: fresh Band Aids, juniper sap, ochre. bee pollen. And bitterness on the finish that must be from the wood. It's not astringent at all but it is fairly pronounced.
The peat is subtle. Not really much like a Longrow but in this case that is favorable. The poor man's LB 16. A bit flatter and less radiant but in the same vein. I often want more peat from a Springbank. This is in between a Springbank and a Longrow. I would call it a successful experiment. Glass is worth nosing after the dram is finished. Read a book for once as you enjoy this dram, why don't you? Sit in an old leather chair. Pet your dog's head occasionally. Consider burning that Cohiba you've been saving for a special occasion. This holiday season is shot anyway. There's no time like the present.
As my bottle oxydizes, the peat is picking up steam. It's becoming more Longrow-like but in a good way. I like this one!
I prefer to drink Longrow 18 2020 after first sipping the lastest IAAS in my glass (without rinsing). I can't express how well the IAAS 3 dried effluvium compliments a small pour of the Longrow 18. It's just sublime. This said, I am not a fan of rumwood with Springbank whiskies in general. I prefer the 2018 over this year's. The 2019 said it didn't have rum, but I think it did have some rum wood. The 2018 is the purist's dram, and the 2015 is even better IMO. I gave the 2018 a score of 89. I couldn't to that high on this bottle. It's the bitter note in the finish that put me off. I couldn't bump up the 2018 Longrow 18 to a 90 so I had to go with a score of 88 for this year's release. It's quite fun and entertaining and I don't regret buying two bottles.
New update: I just opened a 2018 Longrow 18. I definitely like it better than the 2020. I noticed the score is considerably lower on WB. I find that interesting. I also just opened the Cadenheads Ledaig 12 54.9. I like it better slightly than a Lagavulin 12 2017 that I have open as well. The Lag is nice but it's got this sort of mid-range bombast that is less interesting and less complex than the single cask Ledaig.
Update: mouth note like the smell of a grungy old used car battery (the powdery cake that collects) is bringing this one down one point after being open for many months. This 2020 is not one of my favorite 18's any longer. I'm fairly sure the rum wood ruined this for me. For me, rum wood and Longrow peat do not mix well. My favorite exotic wood for the Longrow is Madeira. Im not a big fan of the Red series. but the old Longrow Madeira is among my favorite whiskies of all time . . . so so good.
Truth be told, tho, I really do prefer just an old cask strength Longrow with no sweet woods at all. Anything 16 years or older at cask strength with maybe a combination of fresh and refill bourbon casks. Maybe a marriage of casks for that. I would love to see a small batch of something like that from Springbank.
Here is my "desert island" perfect Longrow small batch: A fresh bourbon 16 (or 15 or 14); a refill bourbon 16 or 17 year; and a double refill 18 year that is all distillery character and no wood influence much at all. All at CS. That would be incredible. My perfect desert island dram . . . . or my underground bunker dram hiding from roaming prick squads armed with glowy luciferage under the auspices of being "humanitarians." A last rites before the end dram . . . . Long live the Scots! Long live our unsullied DNA!