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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 its heavily peated dram but its well balanced like other cambeltown drams but not so medicinal like many islays. Theres vanilla custard and another note. Ive 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. Its sweet like cereal grains, a bit rich like milk in a bowl of cereal but theres also this really fruity delicious sweetness to the end which I attribute to the shiraz. Overall, this is very interesting.
Sweet, almost cloyingly so but then the peat bursts in. Theres lots of creamy sweetness but that doesnt stop raw peat smoke and intensity from making an appearance. Im 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 Longrows take on smoke. Its raw and peppery like Octomore, and smokey but not too ashy like Ardbeg. Theres no real bandage/iodine overload like Laphroaig (which isnt bad, by the way) but Im really enjoying this different, unique peaty experience.
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 doesnt 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, 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 its 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 wont 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, Cuvees from Bruichladdich, Springbank 14 Fino Sherry and Glenfarclas Faultline Casks bottling.