Sunday, April 5, 2015

Review - Springbank 12 years old Single Cask Port Pipe

This new Scotch single malt whisky from the Springbank distillery is so new that it has not actually been bottled as we write this post.  This is due to happen on 20th April 2015.  This whisky is a from a specially selected single cask and will be exclusive to the UK market.  We were fortunate enough to taste a preview sample, along with other visitors, at the recent Midlands Whisky Festival in Stourbridge.  The spirit was distilled in April 2003 and then filled to a ex-Port pipe cask.  The result after 12 years of maturation will yield just 696 bottles and these will have a cask strength of 58.3% ABV.

The Springbank distillery is located in the tiny town of Campbeltown which is found on a narrow peninsula on the west Highland coast of Scotland. It is the oldest distillery in Scotland to be continuously owned by the same family, the Mitchells. Springbank was established in 1828 by the Reid family, who were related to the Mitchells by marriage, then passed to the Mitchell family in 1837.

Springbank has a small capacity with a maximum production of 750,000 litres per year and is the only Scottish distillery to keep the whole production process completely within their own site, from malting the barley through to bottling and packaging. It is one of the few distilleries in Scotland to malt their own barley and the only one to use 100% of their own malt produced on traditional floor maltings. This labour intensive process means that Springbank is the largest private employer in Campbeltown.

The distillery is further unique given that it produces three different and distinct single malts on the same site - Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn. Springbank is lightly peated while Longrow is highly peated, Hazelburn in unpeated and, in the ongoing sense of uncommon, distilled three times compared to twice, which is the Scottish norm.

Left to right - Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn

The Springbank 12 years old Single Cask Port Pipe will be non chill-filtered and of natural colour.  It will be available shortly after bottling through selected specialist whisky retailers in the UK.  The recommended retail price is rumoured to be around the £65-70 mark.

Our tasting notes
This whisky is a deep gold colour bordering on rich amber with a nose of red toffee apples, musky lily floral, dried prunes, and a bold impression of rum and raisin ice cream with intense dried raisins, custard creaminess and a hint of warming spice, such as nutmeg or cinnamon. On the palate this whisky starts with fresh fresh but bitter red berries like cranberries or raspberries. This lasts a mere second before opening up with a big punchy earthy smokiness moving then into the creamy rich fruity rum and raisin ice cream flavours. Its remarkably long finish is moreish and dry while offering a lovely mix of milk chocolate sweetness with a linger of woody smoke.

Adding water brings out the the smokiness on the nose while still maintaining the floral and sugar sweetness but losing some of the richer dried fruits. The palate becomes creamier, more caramel and still as smoky although it does seem to lose some of its complexity with water.

What's the verdict?
This Springbank is a complex whisky that offers more and more each time that you nose or taste it.  The high ABV means that it is initially a bit robust on the palate but this imposes a lasting impression.  It softens with time to reveal a lovely set of characteristics that combine superbly - sweetness, fruitiness and delicate smokiness.  We thoroughly enjoyed this whisky, both at the show and sampling back home, and will definitely be searching out a bottle when it is released.

We would like to thank Grant Macpherson of Springbank for supplying the label image, the information regarding the release, and our sample for review.

No comments: