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Campbeltown was once known as the Whisky Capital of the world, with more than 30 working distilleries in the area. Today is a very different story, however, as only three remain in production, Glen Scotia, Glengyle and Springbank.
Springbank distillery produces three distinct single malt brands. First is the original Springbank, then there’s triple distilled Hazelburn and finally, heavily peated Longrow.
I recently paid a visit to Campbeltown and wasted no time in booking in for a tour of this most intriguing of distilleries. It proved to be an informative and entertaining experience, taking in every aspect of the production process, with the exception of the bottling hall which was out of commission at the time (there’s a pattern emerging here, the exact same thing happened to me at Bruichladdich earlier in the year). Springbank is not the most gleaming of distilleries but its healthy coating of grime simply reminds us that this is a working plant first and foremost, with tourism little more than an afterthought. Which to be honest, is kind of how it should be.
J & A Mitchell also run the Glengyle distillery next door as well as the famed independent bottler, Wm. Cadenhead’s. As a result, the onsite warehousing is stuffed full of casks from an incredible variety of distilleries. It all seemed an opportunity too good to miss so I followed up my tour with a Cadenhead’s Warehouse Tasting, hosted by Mark Watt, the man responsible for selecting and bottling this wonderful array of barrels. I was treated to a diverse range of drams from the likes of Aultmore, Auchentoshan, Glenlivet, Highland Park and Bowmore, there was even a 42-year-old Loch Lomond in there.
The 12 Year Old Springbank is an annual batch release, bottled at cask strength with a strong sherry influence.
Smell: Burnt Toffee, Raisins & Sultanas, Cocoa and subtle Peat Smoke
Taste: Raisins & Sultanas again, Cherry, Orange and Lemon, then there’s Honey, Toffee and Brown Sugar with Peat Smoke and Dark Chocolate.
Value for Money: Came in around £50, not bad at all for a 12 year old, naturally presented, cask strength whisky with such a strong sherry influence.
A limited release that appears just once a year and while it doesn’t hang around long, it’s a great purchase for those lucky enough to get their hands on one. In fairness, the same can be said for any Springbank release, whether it be Springbank itself, Longrow, Hazelburn, or one of the Cadenhead bottlings, you can just about guarantee a quality product that justifies the cost.