Featured at World Whisky Day 2015: There is no question at this moment that Springbank is king of Campbeltown. Having a number of ranges, the main line of offerings is a little unusual in today’s whisky market in being comprised of only Scotches with age statements. This distillery, completely family owned, takes great pride in doing the entire whisky-making process themselves on site, from start to finish. The old ways are the good ways, they believe, and it’s hard to argue with their results. For the past several years, the distillery has also offered a Whisky School, which is probably even more amazing than it sounds. While the Hazelburn line is distilled three times and the Longrow twice, the Springbank is distilled two-and-a-half times, providing a product distinct from either.
Age: 10 year
Maturation: Bourbon and sherry casks
Nose: Caramel, peat, stale tobacco, old leather, red apple
Palate: Smoke, caramel, brine, leather, tobacco leaves, nutmeg, black pepper
Finish: Smoke, tobacco
Adam – It’s taken a while for Cambeltowns to grow on me, and it wasn’t until this one that I really found the right mixture for me. It has a little smoke and peat, like an Islay, yet also has some of the brine I expect from the north islands, along with some of the floral elements found in highland malts. They’re mixed together into something unique, the layers peeling back as they move from one end of your mouth to the other. It’s something you can spend well-deserved time analyzing with your tongue to great delight. Conversely, you can decide the hell with introspection and simply imbibe a really enjoyable whisky. Even better, the price point makes this attractive for repeat purchases. I’m not sure how this would compare in the cooler months with what we usually enjoy, but this for sure makes a fine dram during the late spring, summer and early fall.
Kate – The overall profile is tobacco. Sometimes when we think of smokiness we think heavy but this is not the case here. The smoke in this Scotch is light, unlike the smoke profile found in Islay Scotches. I think of this as an Islay-lite. I know it’s a Cambeltown, but it has a lot of elements I like in an Islay but dialed back. It’s perfect for people who like the peaty Islays but it happens to be summer. It has the right balance of sweetness and lightness.
Meghan – Sugar and tobacco are the primary components for me with this Springbank. It smells like the old family business (wholesalers for convenience stores) warehouse: a strangely compelling completely unique combination of minty gum, chocolate, hard candy, and tobacco. Nostalgia beside, I find the tobacco leaf (versus burning tobacco) combined with mace and nutmeg spiciness a nice change. I agree with Kate’s description of a mellowed Islay. If you are familiar with my tastes you know that peat and I don’t always get along. But here, it’s a delightful necessity to the character. I think this would be an excellent transition Scotch to slowly introduce the wary to what a real Islay can be.