Review #217 – Longrow RED 2011 Australian Shiraz
Whiskey Network Review #217 | /r/Scotch Review #85: Longrow RED 2011 Australian Shiraz, 107.4pf
Longrow RED is an annual, limited engagement release from Longrow that experiments with their usual heavily peated offerings at cask strength and sporting some specialty finish. 2011 is finished in Australian Shiraz casks. Punching in at just a hair over 107 proof, this dram starts by spending 6 years in re-fill ex-bourbon hogsheads and then spends 5 more years maturing in Australian Shiraz casks. It is bottled at cask strength and looks delicious.
Nose: Honey and nougat are the first two massive notes I pick out here. Peat smoke develops and a nice, herbal smoke drives through. You can tell it’s heavily peated dram but it’s well balanced like other cambeltown drams but not so medicinal like many islays. There’s vanilla custard and another note. I’ve been working really hard to try and put words to it but as much as you may laugh I think it closely resembles froot loops. Yep. It’s sweet like cereal grains, a bit rich like milk in a bowl of cereal but there’s also this really fruity delicious sweetness to the end which I attribute to the shiraz. Overall, this is very interesting.
Taste: Sweet, almost cloyingly so but then the peat bursts in. There’s lots of creamy sweetness but that doesn’t stop raw peat smoke and intensity from making an appearance. I’m really liking how the two play off of each other here as it almost seems they battle back and forth. After a burst of smoke, more sweet re-appears. Fruit-loopy, toffee and almost some caramel come back before smoke dominates the rest. I really like Longrow’s take on smoke. It’s raw and peppery like Octomore, and smokey but not too ashy like Ardbeg. There’s no real bandage/iodine overload like Laphroaig (which isn’t bad, by the way) but I’m really enjoying this different, unique peaty experience.
Finish: The finish is long with a bit of heat. For the proof, I think Octomore hides the proof better but this is no stinger. Sweet and creamy at first with one more drizzle of light toffee and custard. The peat doesn’t let this stand for long though and makes sure it has the last word. The end of the finish is peaty with some residual sweetness before the peppery ash stomps it out.
Overall: Overall, I’m very pleased that I managed to get a sample of this before opening my bottle. I’m finnicky about peaty stuff from time to time and it’s nice to try first but in this case, this bottle is a winner. I like sweet and I like smoke and the two here are just perfectly blended. The proof and the mouthfeel are excellent and the shiraz gives a unique take on peat that is executed well. It may sound like I’m writing an ad for Longrow here but I can assure you I paid dearly for my bottle and now that I’ve sampled it, it won’t be long (read: days, at the max) before my bottle is opened also. For all of these reasons, I’m giving Longrow RED 2011 Australian Shiraz an 8 – a lofty rating and one that puts it with the likes of other great bottles. Some of these bottles are Octomores, Cuvee’s from Bruichladdich, Springbank 14 Fino Sherry and Glenfarclas Faultline Casks bottling.
Thanks for reading!