I was recently in Scotland and visited Kintyre, home to Campbeltown. Which is, in turn, home to Springbank. Few distilleries remain in Campbeltown, because there are comparatively few Lowland malt distilleries in production. New distilleries are being built, but mainly in the Highlands, Isles or Speyside/Fife. More on that later.
Perhaps it is the vast distance and isolation of Springbank, in fact Campbeltown itself, that gives such a unique character to their malts. They are confrontational at first introduction, on the nose they promise sweetness through layers of leather and bitters.
So – this bottle, a cask end from an independent bottling (Cadenhead’s) is actually relatively typical of a 15 year old Springbank. Sherry casked during maturation and I’d say fairly heavily, this is a banger of a wee dram at only 46%.
Purchased at Cadenhead’s on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
Opened with some whisky friends in downtown Auckland – April 2nd, 2016.
The official tasting notes on a typical Springbank 15.
Nose: Sherry, dark chocolate, christmas cake, almonds, toffee and oak.
Palate: Creamy, raisins, dark chocolate, figs, marzipan, brazil nuts and vanilla.
Finish: Oak and sherry notes sustain, mingling with hints of leather. Sweet & spicy.
Now, this isn’t exactly the same, but obviously similar process and maturation, this cask just didn’t make the bottling. Here’s what I got from it:
Nose: dark toffee, bitter chocolate (think 70%), giving way to big dry spice of the sherry. You can smell the richness of the sherry and promises a lot on the tongue. Good to note here that it opened up dramatically after breathing for 5mins, which is where the almonds and oakiness have a space to be seen.
Palate: sherry first, those juicy raisins and the rich spice promised on the nose. There is little butteriness here – as you might expect with the Christmas cake flavours going on. But it’s very round and full, well-balanced.
Finish: medium long in the mouth, the spice gets bigger at the end. The hints of oak and earthiness promised on the nose deliver now, leaving that classic sweet/dry counter play of sherry.