130-Year-Old Distillery Launches Rare Scotch to the U.S. for the First Time Ever
It’s not often that a 130-year-old Scotch whisky brand makes its first appearance in the U.S. When it does, what better place for the inevitable media spectacle marking the occasion than the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles? Home to Hollywood icons, dignitaries, movers and shakers of all sorts, and those celebrated bungalows famous for anything but sleeping, the hotel and its hallowed bar recently played host to Longmorn’s launch party—as bottles hit shelves on this side of the Atlantic for the very first time.
Longmorn is almost 20 years older than L.A.’s storied “Pink Palace,” which opened in 1912. The Speyside distillery traces its history to 1893—back when globetrotting founder John Duff would introduce innovative methods to export his new single malt product, including a railway right on the premises to rapidly transport whisky to eager drinkers. Today, the whisky maker is owned by Pernod Ricard, which also owns The Glenlivet and Aberlour—brands that have both benefited from the U.S. market. But Longmorn has been “an industry secret” in the U.S., says Kevin Balmforth, the brand’s blending manager and cask expert.
Longmorn celebrates its long, distinguished history with its first two stateside releases. Rather than start with young expressions, the Speysiders launched an 18-Year-Old and a 22-Year-Old, giving the brand immediate weight in a less crowded space. Both bottlings are non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength (57.6 percent ABV and 54.5 percent ABV, respectively). Having had an opportunity to try each, I can tell you that both are a hit—each reveling in the brand’s signature “creamy toffee” flavors.
The 18-Year-Old reveals the best of both Speyside and Longmorn, balancing those rich toffee notes with the region’s iconic orchard fruits, as well as milk chocolate. The 22-Year-Old has even more depth, with hints of hazelnut joining the blend of toffee, pear, apple, and citrus.
Moving forward, Longmorn will embrace vintages, with plans to release a new, small batch of whiskies every year. As for 2024, we’re plenty excited with the brand’s first two offerings in the U.S.—a spectacular pair of bottles, and, apparently, only the beginning.