By Richard Thomas
You don’t need to look hard to find bloggers and whatnot intent on deriding every single no age statement (NAS) whiskey expression to come down the pike these days, whether it be bourbon or single malt. Yet it’s hard to deny many of these expressions try hard to find ways to deliver quality without relying the (often) long minimum aging period mandated by an aging statement, and one way the Scots can do that is to reach for whisky aged in woods beyond the standard ex-bourbon barrels.
Longmorn Distiller’s Choice is an example of that practice. This is technically a triple wood whisky, although two of the woods are both American white oak, used bourbon staves incorporated into different formats: the American 53-gallon standard barrel (ASB) and the larger hogshead. The third type is ex-Oloroso sherry casks. Keeping this selection of sources in mind, I think harping on the NAS part is a mistake, especially since the standard expression of the underrated Longmorn Distillery is a 16 year old and Distiller’s Choice isn’t replacing it. Focus should instead go straight to two questions: is it a good whisky, and is it worth the price asked for it?
In the glass, Distiller’s Choice has a typical Scotch look, that of golden apple juice. Sometimes that is suggestive of what follows, and such is the case here: the scent is one of apples and pears, caramel (perhaps from the added coloring?) and ginger, and a bit of hoary old wood. The flavor is full-bodied and earthy, full of butterscotch and malt, underscored with woodiness and hot spices like ginger and pepper. The finish is peppery as well, rolling out some nice, mellow warmth.
I found Longmorn Distiller’s Choice a good Speyside, albeit one that is somewhat too peppery for balance. That is what got it a B- instead of a B.
Priced at £46 and $94, I fear it’s too dear for what is in the bottle. I wouldn’t turn it away, but I couldn’t justify buying it either.