Tag Archives: Springbank

Mark Watt leading the Cadenhead's alternative tasting

2017 Whisky adventures part 3: Campbeltown malts festival Glengyle open day

After enjoying a very sunny, hot, relaxing Springbank open day, the third and last day of the Campbeltown whisky festival was on: Glengyle open day. Boy, what a day it was going to be, filled with events and tasting after tasting! Let’s just say this up front: There were those who had sample bottles (including yours truly) and there were those who didn’t… ahem.

First breakfast

With a whole day’s worth of dramming in front of the six of us, a fully cooked Scottish breakfast, enjoyed outside in the sunshine, was just what we all needed to get going. Okay, we never had anything else for breakfast, but, hey, any excuse, right?
Soon enough it was time to call a taxi (no walking this time!) for a ride into town – for the first event of the day:

Second breakfast – alternative tasting

The folks at Cadenhead’s are well-known for bottling fine whisky, but they’re also bottling Gin, Rum and Cognac, and that’s what the (m)alternative tasting with chief booze flogger (inofficial title I just made up!) Mark Watt was all about. After tasting the standard Old Raj gin (which went very well with the tonic water on the table – kidding, it’s a very good gin!), we were in for a treat: A cask-matured gin! They filled a firkin with very high ABV gin (someone ignored or forgot orders to dilute before casking…) which apparently led to a bizarre situation when Mark poured samples straight from the cask for a few visitors. Whilst Mark thought it had “a bit of a kick”, allegedly some of the guys were gasping for air… Sadly we did not get to taste this 92,3% ABV version, but a “slightly” watered down one – which was still very impressive – and didn’t agree with tonic water at all. A gin for sipping on its own!
Moving on, we got two samples of a 30yo and a 50yo Cognac from the Distillerie Charpentier in the Petit Champagne. Both were very excellent “Cognacs for whisky drinkers”. Personally, I liked the 30yo a tad more – it just had a bit more going on, but both were really, really good and have since been released (and probably sold out now).
At the end of the tasting we finally tapped into the Rum supply, with the first one being the “Classic Rum” (which I thought was okay, but it didn’t really connect with me), and the second one an 18yo Caroni. Such a gritty, dirty, oily, greasy (think tampered-with German diesel engines) dram – but in a really good way! Also probably sold out worldwide by now, sorry. This tasting highlighted the quality of “malternative” distillates out there – it definitely pays off to look at other (and, these days, more affordable) spirits as well. I mean, a 50yo Cognac for 135£… that’s a steal!

Sniffy and Islay enjoying the (m)alternative tasting

Sniffy and Islay enjoying the (m)alternative tasting

Mark Watt leading the Cadenhead's alternative tasting

Mark Watt leading the Cadenhead’s alternative tasting

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That bouncer seems to be a funny fella!

2017 Whisky adventures part 2: Campbeltown malts festival Springbank open day

Springbank Open Day

After an, err, somewhat late start to the day (see the previous post to find out the reason why) for some people in our cottage, it was time for us to head into town for the first time that day, to celebrate the act of… queuing for festival bottles! Hooray! Err… yeah, something like that. Why do all whisky festivals seem to revolve around queuing for bottles of whisky? And what a big queue it was for a “wee toon”. As it turned out, we did not arrive a minute too early, and enduring a bit of a drizzle in between was worth it. Everybody in our group got the bottles we wanted, after being admitted into the tent of devil’s juice by the head bouncer Mark! Glad we had Jo at hand to tease him into letting us in! Just as we grabbed our bottles and left the courtyard, the announcement of the first sold-out whisky (a triple-distilled Kilkerran) was made. Quite a few people missed out that day – and it’s a bloody shame to see festival bottles bought by fierce killers ruthless flippers being flogged at auction by the time I’m writing this post in late June. Sign of the times, malt mates!

Queues! Everybody loves queues!

Queues! Everybody loves queues!

That bouncer seems to be a funny fella!

That bouncer seems to be a funny fella!

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Spot the odd one!

2017 Whisky adventures part 1: Campbeltown malts festival

This year’s whisky adventure turned out to be more of a whisky roadtrip. In the end it would lead me (as the designated drinker) and my malt mate Jo (designated driver) on a 1808 mile round trip from the south of England to the Orkneys and back.

To Scotland!

Having flown into Heathrow the day before, and staying the night at my friend’s house in Gloucestershire, our first day had a very early start. Getting up and having breakfast at 4:30 a.m. was the right thing to do, since it turned out the Mazda MX5 took quite a bit of packing finesse to accommodate all the stuff two adult people need for two weeks on the road! Finally leaving at 6 a.m. sharp and taking a few stops in between for lunch, tea, more tea and beer at Loch Fyne, we finally arrived in the middle of nowhere in Campbeltown at a few minutes past 6 p.m. Great driving, Jo!
Jo and I were, however, not alone for that part of our trip, we had booked a cottage on a working farm for 6 people (go ask me about the drama regarding accommodation booking when you meet me in person!). Since Jo and I were the last ones to arrive (having driven the longest distance of all!), our house mates and good friends Justine, Viva, Flo and Stefan were already waiting for us. The group, also called the #referendrams, were finally assembled and ready to rumble dram! Pizza, beer, drams and laughter were on the agenda for the rest of the day/evening. The next day, the Campbeltown malts festival would officially begin and we were as excited as little kids when the circus comes to town!

Fill the cart! We've got hungry people to feed!

Fill the cart! We’ve got hungry people to feed!

 

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Springbank 19 yo 1997-2017 (warehouse tasting)

Tasting: Springbank 19 yo 1997-2016 (warehouse tasting)

Springbank 19 yo 1997-2017 (warehouse tasting)Dram data:
Distillery: Springbank
Bottler: hand bottled
Distilled: 09.05.1997
Bottled: 2016
Age: 19 years
Limitation: –
Casks: Recharred Sherry #606
Alcohol: 58,8%
unchillfiltered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

To mentally prepare for the Springbank festival in May, which I’ll attend, I think it’s time I tasted a “wee toon dram” again. How about this 19 yo from last year’s festival? Let’s take a look – and a sniff and taste!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 mahogany
The nose has a lot of power! wow! it’s a re-charred cask (hogshead?), so there’s no sherry left, this is all Springbank distillate and even more wood! The cask spices are immediately there up front – I’m guessing European oak! Cough lozenges, liquorice, cloves, allspice, gentian and a hint of wormwood. The typical Springbank smoke is there, but it really has to fight through the spices, you could easily miss it! The base is made up of burnt toffee, caramel, a whiff of old cigar box and the freshness of illicit cherry distillate with loads of cracked cherry stones in the mash. An aromatic powerhouse, not for the faint at heart!
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Springbank 12 yo Burgundy (2016)

24 drams till Christmas 2016 #16: Springbank 12 yo Burgundy (2016)

Springbank 12 yo Burgundy (2016)Dram data:
Distillery: Springbank
Bottler: Official bottling
Distilled: 11.2003
Bottled: 05.2016
Age: 12
Limitation: 10260 bottles
Casks: 1st fill Burgundy barrels
Alcohol: 53,5%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

So… we’ve had Madeira finished Finnish whisky yesterday, so let’s stay with wine finishes/maturations and pour a dram of a hugely popular Springbank from earlier this year.

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 red gold
The nose opens with quite a lot of peat smoke for a Springbank whisky. I’ve had more subtle Longrow drams! Not that I’m complaining! Once you cut through the peat there’s the usual slightly salty note intermingled with fresh mint and a whiff of alcohol. Digging even deeper we finally arrive at the core of the whisky. Very noticeable wine cask influence. Sweet grapes, grape seeds, candied oranges and pineapples, pickled ginger, mango sorbet with lemon drizzled on top, fruity pipe tobacco and Swiss orange cough drops. Not an easy dram. Let’s check the palate:  Continue reading

Tasting: Springbank Local Barley 16 yo 1999 - 2016

Tasting: Springbank Local Barley 16 yo 1999 – 2016

Tasting: Springbank Local Barley 16 yo 1999 - 2016Dram data:
Distillery: Springbank
Bottler: Original Bottling
Distilled: September 1999
Bottled: January 2016
Age: 16 years
Limitation: 9000 bottles
Casks: 80% Ex-Bourbon, 20% Ex-Sherry
Alcohol: 54.3%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
barley gold
Springbank Local Barley. Those three words make a malt lovers’ heart beat faster. The old bottlings are legendary and after many years of waiting a new edition is out, with four more to follow in the upcoming years. The barley was grown a few miles south of Campbeltown on Low Machrimore farm. The barley variety used was Prisma – not particularly often heard of these days and I’m glad they mention these little details because the influence of barley on the whisky is rarely talked about these days, but it does exist – just ask a homebrewer – and why would it be different for whisky? This dram was, of course, also malted, distilled, matured and bottled in Campbeltown. A 100% local product. Except for the glass, cork and box… Right, on to the whisky then!
The nose opens on the light, delicate and mineral side. Quite a lot of bourbon in the mix and I can’t help but think of the sublime bourbon matured Kilkerran for a second – they’re sisters in spirit, but different enough. Very well-integrated peat smoke, on the smokier side as far as Springbanks go. A delicate hint of non-vulgar vanilla with wet beach pebbles, sewing machine oil, aromatic red and green apples, sweet pears, pear peel, slightly green gooseberries and apricots with a hint of apricot distillate (including kernels). Continue reading

24 drams till Christmas tasting #4: Longrow 18 yo (2014 edition)

Longrow 18 yo (2014 edition)Dram data:
Distillery: Springbank
Bottler: Original Bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2014
Age: 18 years
Limitation: –
Casks: (mostly?) Ex-Sherry
Alcohol: 46%
unchillfiltered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
amber
The nose just immediately makes me smile, which is usually a very good sign. A dark and layered dram. Let’s search for the peat first. Longrow peat levels can vary, as it’s a purely manual process on the traditional malt floors and aging for 18+ years does reduce the smoke levels. Just a hint of aromatic peat remains – blending in with cask spices and dark sherry notes. Salted toffee, treacle, dark milk chocolate, coffee beans, cocoa beans, vanilla pods with the innards scraped out, old leather jacket in granny’s wardrobe, a concentrate of very dry dark fruits (raisins, dates, plums). Not too sweet though, there’s also a dry sherry component (Oloroso?). This is pure, sexy, no-frills style.
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Longrow 12y 2002-2015 by Cadenhead's

Tasting: Longrow 12y 2002-2015 by Cadenhead’s

Longrow 12y 2002-2015 by Cadenhead'sDram data:
Distillery: Springbank
Bottler: Cadenhead’s
Distilled: 2002
Bottled: April 2015
Age: 12 years
Limitation: 288 bottles
Casks: Ex-Sherry
Alcohol: 53,1%
unchillfiltered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
amber
The nose opens a bit high on the alcohol at first, but this impression fades after a minute or two, revealing a rich and dark, oily, heavy dram. Motor oil, earthy dunnage warehouse floor, rich oak, almost burnt caramel, brine, creamy fudge, with peat smoke in the background – it really has a hard time fighting through all the heavy notes. Continue reading

Springbank 17 1996 - 2014 Potstill Edition

Tasting: Springbank 1996 17y Single Cask for Potstill Vienna

Springbank 17 1996 - 2014 Potstill EditionDram data:
Distillery: Springbank
Bottler: Original Bottling / Potstill Edition “Brianna’s Choice”
Distilled: 10.1996
Bottled: 07.2014
Age: 17
Limitation: 149 bottles
Casks: Refill Sherry Cask
Alcohol: 56%
Unchillfiltered, natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
red gold
The nose immediately reminds me of the 2015 Springbank 17 sherry wood I just tasted yesterday. It’s not the same, but the common denominator is the quite noticeable and similar wood influence on top of the signature Springbank saltiness. The wood influence, even though it is a refill cask, is dominating, making it hard to pick out the Springbank peat smoke. Continue reading

Springbank 17 Sherry Wood

Tasting: Springbank 17 Sherry Wood

Springbank 17 Sherry WoodDram data:
Distillery: Springbank
Bottler: Original Bottling
Distilled: 04.1997
Bottled: 01.2015
Age: 17
Limitation: 9120 bottles
Casks: Sherry wood (first fill butts, refill butts, hogsheads)
Alcohol: 52.3%
Unchillfiltered, natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
gold
The nose starts off with light and fragrant Springbank peat smoke, the signature salt note on a layer of noticeable cask spices with aromatic dark fruits in the background. Think of a puree of figs, dates, sweet dried apricots and plums.
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