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Issue 39 - The backbone of great whisky? (Longmorn)

Whisky Magazine Issue 39
May 2004

 

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The backbone of great whisky? (Longmorn)

Longmorn is a blenders' favourite. But as a single malt it's both wonderful and frustratingly hard to get. Ian Buxton adds his voice to the Whisky Magazine clamour for more of it

I arrived at Longmorn in a swirling snowstorm, quite worried about the directions I have been given.

“Pass the Shougle turn,” they had told me “right through Fogwatt and then turn right.” Shougle? Fogwatt? Perhaps I was to be lost forever in the Elgin Triangle: was this some Beachcomber fantasy, I wondered, or a Highland version of Royston Vasey?

Well, the gentlemen who met me may have been in league, but they couldn't have been friendlier.

Longmorn's manager Hamish Proctor and Pernod Ricard's group distilleries manager Alan Winchester were the most gracious of hosts and provided an erudite introduction to this interesting, historic but little-known Speyside distillery.

That's evidently a tradition at Longmorn. An earlier, and eventually far more distinguished, visitor was Masataka Taketsuru the founder of Japan's Nikka Whisky company. As his biographer Olive Checkland recalls, Taketsuru arrived here in April 1919 as a ‘poor overseas student' to undertake a brief ‘apprenticeship' under the manager Mr R B Nicol.

Taketsuru had previously been obliged to decline the offer of private tuition from the distinguished J A Nettleton, due to lack of funds, but at Longmorn he was taken in without charge and given a sound, if brief, nine-day introduction to the joys of Speyside distilling.

He made Mr Nicol the gift of some tobacco but memories of his visit did not disappear like smoke: many years later, when he established the Yoichi distillery in Japan, it was modelled...

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