Whisky Advocate

Review: Longmorn 16 year old

September 19th, 2011

Longmorn 16 year old, 48%, $110

Longmorn may be slightly better known than some, but it’s still pretty much a cult whisky — with a huge following in Japan, where every whisky bar seems to have multiple expressions. This bottling shows it in its lushest guise, with masses of caramelized soft fruits, banana, cream toffee, and chocolate. The palate shifts between raisin and plum. Elegant. —Dave Broom

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 89

38 Responses to “Review: Longmorn 16 year old”

  1. Chris says:

    It’s a pity this is so expensive, but it really is phenomenal! I love the tropical fruit aspect to it, which is so rare in Scotch. Great stuff, I wish Longmorn had more of their own bottlings. Fortunately, from my experience the independent bottlings are usually spot-on.

  2. H.Diaz says:

    After years of keeping an eye out, earlier this year I found a bottle of Longmorn 15 y/o for $50. One of the best scotch whiskies at this price and sadly missed. At nearly twice the price and an extra year of aging, in principle, I may never try the Longmorn 16 y/o, even sadder.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      You know what Diaz– Don’t lose any sleep over it. This bottling is really not that great at all. Definitely not as good as the 15 IMHO.

  3. Rick H says:

    @H.Diaz: Me too! I found a dusty bottle in a shop that clearly doesn’t sell a lot of single malt. I also brought a bottle of the 16 from Scotland in 2010.

    Personally, I think the 15 is much, much, much better. The 16 is hotter and less complex. I fear this was a mistake. I’d give the Longmorn 16 an 85-87 and the 15 a 91-92.

  4. lawschooldrunk says:

    Please, longmorn, bring back the 15yo. And because of your prices, I have not, nor will not purchase your 16yo. I don’t care about stupid packaging. I care about what I drink; so thanks for using all that fake/real leather in the packaging. I think I’ll go buy some Old Pulteney…

  5. Red_Arremer says:

    Completely agree with you guys, Rick and LSD. The packaging is dumb as all get out and the whisky’s just as you say, “hotter and less complex.” Oh yeah– the price– ?!

    This offering is a huge disappointment from one of my favorite distilleries. Luckily there are some good IB’s out there. Keep your eyes open for them.

  6. mongo says:

    as great as it is to read more reviews and to gain the perspective of more writers, i can’t help but feel that this development has also resulted in a significant amount of grade inflation for single malts at what would john know/malt advocate.

    • John Hansell says:

      It’s just going to take a little time for everyone to get to know the additional reviewers and how they rate their whiskies. No two reviewers are exactly the same.

      • anorak77 says:


        In the process, you will be losing a lot of print media subscriptions…. aside from this site, the magazine needs to adapt more and recognize that we are now in the information age.

        I only read the magazine because my local retailer offers it for free. After reading a years worth of issues, I’d not pay for a subscription at all… too much free info is available online. Ralfy, Serge, etc…. Their ratings seem to be much more down to earth than what I have read in MA.

        Lately, the inflated ratings offered to sub-par malts make me wonder if people are not being paid… dare I mention Jim Murray and his “Bible” ?

        • John Hansell says:

          You are reading these reviews–free–on this blog, before they are released officially in the magazine. How is this not adapting to the digital age? You can also access ALL of our reviews online on our website.

          These are the best “professional” whisky reviewers in the business–and the most highly regarded, I might add, with dozens of authored books on whisky between them. (Not to take away from Serge, Ralfy and others whose reviews I also enjoy). I will not tolerate your insinuation that they are being paid for reviews. Do you actually think I would hire someone is taking bribes from the whisky companies? Get real!

          The long-term growth (and value) of Malt Advocate depends on having a team of reviewers who are experts in the areas they review so we can provide you with thorough, comprehensive reviews of new and existing whiskies. Just give yourself some time to adapt to each person’s review style. After all, you had to do this with me early on too!

          I would also add that whisky reviews is only a very small part of Malt Advocate. Sure you can find other reviews online at no cost, but Malt Advocate is much more than that.

          • Dr. J says:

            You tell ’em John!

            Call me old-fashioned, but nothing beats hard copy. Easy to transport and no power supply needed. Looks nice on a shelf too.

          • lawschooldrunk says:

            I am a bibliophile and love the paper format- it cannot compare to digital. Ignore the internet poison, John. Don’t let it get to you.

        • Logan Mann says:

          Serge gave this whisky an 88 on One point difference…how’s that considered inflation?

    • Dr. J says:

      I don’t know about single malt grade inflation, but price inflation is causing me to sample more Bourbons!

    • anorak77 says:

      I have to agree with mongo. With all the recent reviews being by others, this Blog should now be called, What did John Know =)

      I, for one, trust Ralfy a whole lot more than all of them put together! =)

      Some of these tasting notes are starting to get to be a bit wine-snob pretentious!

      • John Hansell says:

        I know that Dave, Gavin, and the rest of the reviewers here have a combined knowledge of whisky far greater than just mine–or Ralfy. That’s what I know.

      • lawschooldrunk says:

        I LOVE Ralfy’s reviews, but I imagine I could fool him if I took a chill-filtered ,color added, malt, and poured it into a bottle that said both these processes were excluded. He’d probably rave about the “intrinsic quality.”

        Please, everyone is influenced by something.

        So, trust who you will, but try not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

    • two-bit cowboy says:

      If you look at John’s review from a few years back you’ll discover he gave Longmorn 16 the same 89, so I guess your point’s lost on me.

      The price though: absolutely ridiculous! A very popular 16 called Nadurra is half the price, doesn’t have the leather knickers and metal necktie, and it’s cask strength. That doesn’t make it better, but it does make it more palatable.

    • mongo says:

      my original comment about grade inflation was not disagreement with the rating assigned to this whisky per se but sparked by the realization while reading this review that i couldn’t remember the last review by one of the new reviewers that ended with a rating below the high-80s (94 for the laphroaig triple wood is the most egregious i can remember*). 90 seems to be the new 85. yes, serge too gave this longmorn a similar rating–but serge uses a much wider scale on a regular basis.

      here are the current last six ratings on whisky fun: 88, 86, 91, 73 87, 86.

      here are the last six scotch ratings on wdjk (including this morning’s balblair): 91, 89, 92, 87, 91, 91

      by the way, i should add that i already enjoy the *styles* of the new writers a lot, especially dave broom. it’s the seeming endless succession of ratings in the high 80s/90s that gives me a bit of pause.

      *like the mortlach f&f, a very nice whisky but….

      • two-bit cowboy says:

        HI Mongo,

        If Serge and John et al had reviewed the same six whiskies and produced those different ratings I could almost “get” your point.

        • mongo says:

          two-bit, serge has a rating of 78 for the mortlach f&f and 85 for the great king st., which are at 91 and 91 on wdjk. now, i think that 78 for the mortlach is even more out of whack, but my point isn’t really about who has the exact correct rating. my point is merely my perception (perhaps mistaken) that there seems to be almost a reluctance (probably unconscious) to use the highly respectable 80-89 part of the 100 point scale among some of the newer reviewers. (john himself uses a larger spread.) wdjk (along with whiskyfun) used to be one of the holdouts against the practice of throwing scores in the high 80s and 90s at every good whisky–i don’t want to see that change.

          i would hope that it would be fine to describe the very solid pleasures of the mortlach f&f or the laphroaig triple wood without having to give them somewhat hyperbolic scores. dominic gives the laph triple wood the same score john gave the bowmore white: the 100 point scale might then need to be turned up to 110 to accomodate dominic’s rating of the bowmore white.

          perhaps this is also an adaptation period among the expanded reviewing crew as they calibrate their rating schemes with each other. or for that matter with the eminently sensible one already listed on malt advocate’s review pages:

          A classic! All components are balanced appropriately, with the complexity and character expected in a classic.

          Outstanding! One of the best for its style. Distinctive.

          Good to very good. Plenty of character and no identifiable flaws. Worth seeking out.

          • two-bit cowboy says:

            78 to 91 is a big difference, ya?

            The highest rating I’ve seen from John is 97 for Black Bowmore. My taste generally tracks pretty close to John’s so when he issued a 96 for Corryvreckan I expected it to be the best whisky I’d ever had. It’s not. In fact it’s not even one of the nine whiskies in my top five. I like my 2008 Uigeadail better. Serge gave the Corry a 90.

            Going the other way, Ruben @ WhiskyNotes gave Arran Machrie Moor a 70. I love the stuff.

            All this to say I don’t put much stock in any numbering system. The numbers are subjective points of reference in one person’s opinion. Whether the reviewer is a professional is of no matter to me, but I’d miss out on some wonderful whiskies if I let others’ numbers guide my purchases.

      • John Hansell says:

        Mongo, there are two important thing you don’t know here which I hope will clarify the relatively high ratings.

        First of all, I am only publishing a fraction of the whisky reviews going into the next issue of the magazine. I have intentionally chosen the higher-rated whiskies because I think you will want to know about these in advance. I have the new issue in front of me. I counted FOURTEEN ratings of whiskeys in the 70s! That’s by far more 70s ratings than we have ever published in Malt Advocate.

        Secondly, I have asked our reviewers to include some classics in the mix, so you will see this reflected in the reviews.

        I hope this helps to clarify.

        • mongo says:

          thanks, john: that clarifies matters greatly, and is very good to know.

        • Morgan Steele says:

          I agree with the policy on emphasizing higher rated whiskies in advance of MA’s print schedule. Additionally, the “classics” help me catch up on bottles I may have missed (such as the new bottle of Mortlach’s F&F sitting on my shelf).

        • H. Diaz says:

          …exactly what I was thinking John. I don’t care to read too much about lower rated whiskies, Wild Turkey 81 comes to mind, but I understand why it should be in the news.

          Me, I’m looking to read about and hopefully get my hands on higher rated whiskies – especially those for less than $100, Compass Box Great King Street comes to mind.

          And keep up the great work, John. Over the years I’ve seen many changes to your magazine including the look, feel and content and have never been disappointed (well, if possible, please keep the mailing label off the actual magazine cover).

          What I have missed is you, John, authoring many of the magazines articles.

    • two-bit cowboy says:

      To add another perspective here, Gavin Smith reviewed Longmorn 16 on his site not long after it first hit the streets:

  7. John Hansell says:

    I do miss the old 15 year old. It was a really lovely whisky.

    • bj reed says:

      I still have most of my 15 YO along with a 50cl bottle I picked up at Glenlivet distillery and another 20 YO from A.D. Rattray bottled at 54.8 and I really think Longmorn is under appreciated

  8. Keith Sexton says:

    I admit i’m a little surprised here at the negativity around the 16 yr. (aimed at the product, not the price). The bottle i purchased wasn’t quite as expensive as listed here. I miss the 15 yr old, but i really like the 16 yr old too. I get a lot of things I like: sweet christmastime spices, a bit of candy apple. But I guess no two palates are alike!

    • John Hansell says:

      I rated this whisky when it first came out several years ago and interestly gave it the same rating as Dave, an 89. I like the whisky, but I liked the 15 even better.

  9. Derek says:

    I agree. I am surprised by the negative comments also. I found that it was a unique expression that is well worth trying. The more I drink this, the more I dig the way this whisky leaves the palate; sweet and strong, ready for more.

    I understand the concern for the pricing, as it is on the higher side for a 16yr, however we were able to find the bottle in a travel retail store for around $80 which is well worth it.

    For more, read our review on it…

  10. Logan Mann says:

    There is one bottle of the Longmorn 16 on the shelf at my local liquor store. They’ve never had it before and one bottle recently appeared at the special price of $79.99. Good deal?

  11. D.Houston says:

    Here in Canada it is a $79.00 bottle, but i agree with everyones critique that the 15 is much better and with Rick’s comment that it is quite hot. It really needs to be cut down with water!

  12. Luke says:

    $110.00?!?! Outrageous!!!

  13. Chris S. says:

    It’s obvious that this 16yo from Longmorn just didn’t meet the expectations most of us who were lucky to have tasted the old 15yo, had.

    Generally speaking, It really is a pity and thinking about other similar examples like the poor Macallan 12 fine oak, the Balvenie 12 doublewood or 14 golden cask, the ’00s Glen Grant OBs and such I think Speyside has taken the wrong path.

    The Longmorn 15, just like the -long gone- Balvenie 10 ‘founder’s reserve’ were for years real stunners, among Speyside’s finest malts, let alone you could buy them even from a supermarket for 30-35 euros. For Speyside lovers, thank God there’s A’bunadh and some good ‘cheap’ Glenfarclas along with the decent Cragganmore out there. Oh! I almost forgot, and the new good Glendronachs.

  14. Tim McCann says:

    Chris S.,

    You are spot on in your assessment of the 15 year old! What an absolutely magnificant malt! I used to pay around $55-$60 for it. I often wonder why some of these distillers tinker with winning formulas.

    I got a bottle of the 16 when it first appeared for about $60 and it was a disappointment. Now at $115, I doubt I’ll try it again.

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