The Difference Between Age and Maturity: Chivas Brothers 1993 Longmorn 18yo

Music: Shoji Meguro, “Heaven”

I love independent bottlings and one-offs. There is this excitement that comes with trying something that so few others have tried. While over the pond in London, I came across this Chivas Brothers cask strength series, and as I haven’t had Longmorn since my earliest of Scotch years, I was excited to try it again. Admittedly, this isn’t a true independent bottling, as it is bottled by Chivas, but not as part of the standard Longmorn line. Perhaps more a special edition, then.

Nose: Perfume and polish. A little strange to start. Green apple and malt, much like the Nadurra, in fact.

Palate: Rough around the edges for an 18yo, and best served without much water. It has that bright fruit-first kind of deal, drying out into sweetened malt. Not as complex as I’d hoped. In many ways, it’s like a more straightforward, not-as-successful Nadurra.

Finish: Green apples all day.

Grade: B

Of course, I wanted this one to be a good one, but at the end of the day, it’s a less impressive Glenlivet Nadurra. Shame, really.

“Those long days passing by from that door, like late summer, they slowly fade away”

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1993 Ben Nevis 17yr (Signatory Un-Chillfiltered Collection)

At times I look back on this purchase and think,

“$88 for only 70cl of such an obscure non-cask strength whisky? Really?”

But then I pour myself a dram and the thought subsides. “Really.”

I hadn’t heard anything about this bottling, nor had I heard anything about Ben Nevis for that matter, except that according to Ralfy, it mostly ends up in blends–what a tragedy. This one surprises you. It needs that touch of water (just a few drops) to open up. This one reminds me of all my favourite unpeated drams, and what’s more, it reminds me of them in turn, not muddled together.

Nose (w/o water): Smells of apples. Caramel apples in fact, if not a bit prickly–like a candied apple.

Nose (with water): Nutty, barley (almost auchentoshan like). It has that kind of faint popcorn/beer nuts. Not movie-butter popcorn, but more like a carnival snack stand. It makes me think of the carnival at night. Creamy caramel, and all around freshness. The nose is part Auchentoshan 18, and part Highland Park 12 (without the occasional eggy sulphur). It’s as if you’re standing at the gate to a carnival and can smell the caramel apples… then you put the water in and walk through the gate to the confectioner’s stand.

Palate: Oily, chewy, sweet–yum! Without water, caramel apples, with a touch of leather at the end. With water, and it’s a creamy, bursting saltwater taffy and sweets. Nuttiness, slight hints of smoke, and a little dairy (in a good way). Wow. This thing is just carnival confectionary in a glass.

Finish: Medium. Honeyed barley, some nuttiness. Hints of ‘vanilla milkshake’ is all I can say.

Grade: A-

For those in Ontario (though this will only aid to deplete a supply that is already limited,) this whisky is worth a go if you’re a fan of a good creamy highland with notes of (the LCBO discontinued) Auchentoshan 18, and the Highland Park 12. I had initially given this a B+, because I had thought that the finish was a little on the short side compared to an Ardbeg or a Port Charlotte. I decided to take it head to head with the PC An Turas Mor tonight, and no, this holds it’s ground. There is so much going on here that it deserves the A-.

This whisky is a real ‘experience’ whisky. There are so few whiskies that have the complexity to take me to a place I’ve been, rather than merely reminding me of this fruit, or that grain, or an assortment of flowers, etc. This was one of those.