Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Have just tried ... Springbank 15 years old

springbank 15 years oldSpringbank is pretty unique amongst Scottish distilleries, as it has been continuously owned by the same family since it opened in 1828. The distilley is located on the Campbeltown peninsula, which is on the west Highland coast. Springbank is small (their maximum production capacity is only 750,000 litres per year) but their whiskies are highly regarded within the whisky world. They are also unique in the fact that they produce three different whiskies at the distillery. The first is Springbank which is lightly peated (around 15ppm) and is distilled two and a half times (this means that the spirit is distilled twice but some of it is allowed to drain back in to the still and is therefore distilled for a third time). The second is Longrow which is heavily peated (about 55ppm) and this is distilled twice. The third is Hazelburn and this is completely unpeated and distilled three times. The production is split between the three throughout the year with 80% of the time going to Springbank, 10% to Longrow and 10% to Hazelburn. There are currently five regular bottlings of Springbank, three of Longrow and one of Hazelburn, although limited releases are added to these from time to time.

This Springbank 15 years old forms part of the core range and the nose smells good. There is a clear sherry cask influence with dried fruit (raisins and peel) and nuts (almonds, I think). It reminded me of Christmas cake! Then comes a whiff of woody bonfire smoke. On the palate this feels creamy and very pleasant. That fruitiness is there and it is complimented by the smokiness lingering in the background. There are some other very interesting elements present, with hints of vanilla, coconut, something spicy (imagine black peppercorns) and something tangy and salty. The finish is long with the smoke and vanilla prominent, although it did get very dry, woody and bitter right near the end. This is a very good whisky and would be a great one to introduce someone to the smoky flavours that whiskies can have, as the smokiness is not too prominent but compliments the other flavours very well. A bottle will cost you anywhere between £40-45.

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