Monday, January 12, 2009

MxMo XXXV: Broaden Your Horizons Longrow Gaja Barolo Finish




I know, I know, I'm doing Mixology Monday a week early. I'm actually not confused by the due date (I know its the 19th, not the 12th or the 29th as have been misreported), but I saw peoples posts going up today and thought to myself, 'Why wait until the last minute?".

As you probably already know, I'm only a "sometime" participant in Mixology Monday. That is, I participate when my schedule allows and when I'm inspired by the topic. I appreciate the concept of Mixology Monday but to be honest, as a working bartender , there are times when the last thing I want to do on a Monday is think about liquor. However, when I saw that the Scribe over at A Mixed Dram had chosen to broaden everyone's horizons, well, I couldn't resist. As he describes this months theme;

Hello everyone, and welcome to A Mixed Dram. I’m hosting this month, and I think you will enjoy our topic this month. I know that we tend to do what is familiar to us, and I am no less a victim of this than anyone else, often even more. My first several cocktails were basically sours, and then my next several were little more than old fashioneds. Well, today I issue you a challenge: Try something new!

Hmm, try something new huh? There are plenty of things that I still haven't gotten around to playing with either on this blog or in RL (including some new toys I just purchased from Harvard Medical School). Still, I really wasn't sure about what to do until I sat down last night and had a wee dram of Longrow Gaja Barolo Barrel Single Malt Scotch. I loved it, and I even threw up a quick post to tell people how much I enjoyed it, but I don't think I was being upfront enough. So, in the spirit of trying something new (this is the newest liquor in my collection), I thought I'd review this amazing product right here during Mixology Monday.

Ego nunquam pronunciari mendacium! Sed ego sum homo indomitus! (I never lie. But I am a savage)- Mel Gibson, Braveheart
, 1995

If ever there were a single malt that was more savage and vicious than Longrow Gaja Barrel finish, I haven't seen it. Not the brutes from Islay, let the Ardbegs and Laphroaigs alone, not even they are this savage. This is a knife fight on your palate, brutal, and yet at the same time amazingly beautiful, like watching two aces dogfight in a deadly ballet.

Longrow is produced by the Springbank distillery (one of my favorites and a continual favorite amongst single malt fans), along with Hazelburn. Three malts emanating from one distillery is a pretty unusual occurence. A Campbelltown malt, Springbank's 3 styles are all unique, Springbank featuring a medium peatiness, Hazelburn an unpeated malt and Longrow a heavily peated malt. Add to this heavily peated malt an 18 month stay in old Gaja barolo barrels (a huge Italian wine, big and tannic with a taste of tar and rose) after 5 1/2 years in old bourbon barrels and you've got one unusual single malt.

Upon opening the bottle, there is a pronounced winey aroma to the nose, reminiscent of an old vinegar barrel. This is a hot and tight liquor at 55.8%, but upon putting one ice cube in the glass, the Longrow began to give up aromas of leather, cedar and pine needles. This is an oily, almost viscous malt, coating your tongue almost instantly. On the palate, wine notes attack the peat with all its got but the peat puts up a great fight. Smoke is everywhere, punching your tastebuds and fighting to stay at the forefront. I found that this malt takes a good 10 to 15 minutes to open up completely, but half the fun is sipping this and seeing what craziness shows up next. I didn't know single malt (or anything for that matter) could do something like this to my tastebuds as flavors dance and attack, feinting and ducking then reappearing. Rich, big, smoky, tannic, before this malt opens its flavors are quite literally at war with each other, but the crazy thing is, it works. I absolutely love this bottle, but unfortunately, there were only 1200 bottles of this ever made. I do hope they attempt to recreate this malt again, but the weather in Scotland can be fickle and I don't know if they could ever recreate what is in this bottle. All I can say is that the distillers at Springbank are evil geniuses. It becomes readily apparent when the malt finally does open up, revealing a big, peaty well balanced malt. A certain sweetness begins to emerge and is tempered by the oak barrels only slightly. If anything, this is a dizzying ride for your palate. It may not be for everyone, but luckily I'm not everyone and I love this bottle.

Highly Recommended

27 comments:

Dave Ewald said...

where do you buy this?

Lance J. Mayhew said...

Dave,

I was trying my damndest not to mention it, but Pearl Specialty market on nw10th and lovejoy is the only place in Oregon with it.

Dave Ewald said...

thanks much.
It's nice to see that they are expading their selection. When I last went in there, which admittaby was just after they opened, their selection was good, but nothing particurally unique.

Lance J. Mayhew said...

cUnique selections are always hard in Oregon since we are a control state, but I think things are slowly getting better. Pearl Specialty in my opinion has had some time to get to know their clientele a bit better and is starting to focus on their wants.
I'd be curious as to which liquor stores you think have the best selection of single malts in the Portland area.

Jeff Frane said...

I'm not Dave, but the two best selections I've seen for single malts are the Uptown store and the 11th Avenue store on Hawthorne. If memory serves, the latter stock Whisky Galore bottlings I haven't seen elsewhere.

Dave Ewald said...

I'd agree with Jeff... The one on Hawthorne being a better all around selection of everything.
I haven't been to it in a long while, but I remember that the store on SW Barnes and Miller (across the street from the QFC (?)) had a good selection of less common single malts.

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