Class: Campbelltown Single Malt Scotch
Reviewer: Andrew Owen
If I were forced to pick a favorite distillery, there is a very good chance that I would say Springbank. From the independent ownership to the production philosophy, to the character of the whisky itself, I love everything about Springbank. This centuries old distillery, which is one of three remaining distilleries still populating the once-whisky-producing-capital-of-the-world Campbelltown region of the Kintyre peninsula in the southwest corner of Scotland (the others two are Glengyle and Glen Scotia) still has the appearance and production methods of a 19th century distillery. In fact, one of the most extraordinary things about this distillery is that it does not have a single computer onsite (!!)
The distillery, which was founded in 1828, is still owned by the same founding family, currently under the name J & A Mitchell & Company, which also owns the neighboring Glengyle Distillery and William Cadenhead’s independent bottling brand. Springbank is one of the only self-sufficient distilleries in Scotland, from performing 100% of their own floor maltings on site to bottling on their own on-site bottling line. The Campbelltown region is not able to produce all of the grain needed for Springbank’s whisky, making grain sourcing the only thing that is not 100% local. Besides the flagship whisky, which is moderately peated up to 6 hours in a kiln, Springbank also produces a heavily peated (up to 48 hours) whisky called Longrow and an unpeated and triple distilled whisky called Hazelburn. The distillery also uses a rare direct-fired wash still. Within the Springbank line of whiskies, there are official bottlings of 10, 12, 15, 18, and 21 years along with some much rarer older and single cask bottlings. Let’s dive in to the entry level 10 year old.
- Like all Springbank whiskies, the 10 year old is 2.8 times distilled (reach out to me or research for yourself if you want to know how this is done)
- Stocks are aged in the onsite dunnage style warehouses a short trek from the Atlantic Ocean
- Bottled without chill filtration or added coloring.
- Bottled at 46% ABV
- Likely a vatting of predominantly ex-bourbon casks
Nose: Right away you notice a very peculiar "tropical funk", as I’ll call it. Kind of like juicy sour orange mixed with iodine. Alongside this are salty brine and damp, earthy peat, with sour cherry, some fig, and wet tobacco in the background. These aromas may sound strange, but put together they are quite lovely.
Palate: Wet, earthy, and mossy up front, with lemon peel, malty cereal sweetness, and more of that citrusy funk from the nose. Upon further exploration, seaweed, turmeric, and paprika can also be detected. There is a pleasant burn up front, and the mouthfeel is somewhat creamy.
Finish: Lemon meringue, earthy peat, and freshly mown grass give way to mossy wood and slightly smoky charcoal that linger for a long while.
A special note here: water has a big impact on this one, altering the dram significantly, yet neither for better or worse. A few drops bring out more citrus and sweetness while dampening the earthy peat, and an additional few drops further resolve the citrus into a ripe and juicy pineapple note.
Buying Recommendation: Buy it now!! Rarely will you find a combination of extreme uniqueness AND extreme tastiness, in a 10 year whisky nonetheless, sold for right around $60. This is a no brainer for me.
The Rating Scale
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: truly exceptional
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