Campbeltown, a small whisky region in Scotland, used to be a buzzing whisky producing area with many distilleries but now is home to only three, of which Springbank is one and the same family which owns Springbank owns Glengyle, another. The distillery malts, distills, ages, and bottles all of their whisky on site – the only Scottish distillery which does so. It is privately owned by a family, and was founded in 1828, though it was closed from 1979 to 1987 and 08-09. The family has retained good practices, and the whiskies are presented very well – without added colouring or filtration, and at a good proof to allow the flavours to come through. Springbank is distilled “2 and a half times” – by that meaning that some of the new make has been distilled twice, and some three times, with long fermentations which bring out more fruity characters. The same distillery also makes other single malts – a more heavily peated Longrow (distilled twice) and an unpeated Hazelburn (distilled three times).
Nose: Caramel (much like the character you see in some sherries), lemon peel, dried apricot, and vanilla with some light earthy peatiness and olive oil. Underneath is some more light fruitiness of pear, apple, and some honey. It’s fairly heavy, and perhaps “dark” in character with good depth. The lemon seems to grow a bit with time and “lifts” the aroma overall out of its darker and heavier character. 26 /30 (87%)
Taste: Orange and citrus, toffee, coconut, pear, with a structure of earthy peat, malt, light vanilla sweetness, a briny feel, and a touch of ashy smoke. Reasonably sweet, but not out of balance at all. Very nicely structured, with the various elements supporting one another. 27/30 (90%)
Finish: A bit more ashy smoke, light peaty earthiness, malt, and some more pear with a bit more of a nutty character than I noticed elsewhere fading eventually to light smokiness, earthiness, and malt. Nice length. 18/20 (90%)
Conclusion: I quite like the structure, weight, and balance of this whisky – a brilliant winter dram, I think – though to some may not be as approachable. The complexity and fullness of this one makes it a whisky which is continually challenging – in a very enjoyable way. I don’t know how often I would reach for it in the summer or spring, but I’m really loving this in the chilly weather…also the bottle for me fits the malt so well – it seems to personify the darkness of the malt with the black and the citrus in it with the orange, all in a heavy set bottle. 18.5/20 (92.5%)