Springbank distillery is not very well-known in the whisky world, but they should be! They are very passionate about what they do, and they uphold as many traditional production methods as they can. They do not chill filter (and never have!), they do not add caramel colouring, they bottle at a minimum of 46%, and they do not shy away from experiments. Campbeltown, where the distillery is located, is actually recognised as it's own whisky region, and once was home to over 30 whisky distilleries. There is now only three, and Springbank own two of those in their namesake distillery, and Glengyle Distillery (producing Kilkerran whisky).
They are also one of the few distilleries in Scotland to do everything in-house. That means they malt their own barley, while most distilleries buy their barley in from external malting operations, and the whisky does not leave the distillery grounds until it is bottled, while some distilleries send their whisky to central off-site warehouses to mature and be bottled. Great stuff Springbank!
Springbank Distillery produce three distinct 'styles' of their whisky: Hazelburn, which is triple-distilled and un-peated, Springbank, which is '2.5 times' distilled and lightly peated, and Longrow, which is double distilled and heavily peated. All three of these labels have multiple expressions as well. I'm starting with what is probably their most widely available, Springbank 10 year old.
'2.5 times distilled', primarily matured in bourbon casks, but some sherry as well. Lightly peated, non-chill filtered, and no added colouring. Excellent!
Colour: Yellow gold.
Texture: Gorgeous, not too oily or too thin, instantly obvious quality.
Nose: Very interesting, initially sweet & sour, opens slowly, giving salt and sea air, dry sherry, green apples and a slight hint of peat. Disclaimer: it's unusually cold here tonight, and while I did try and warm the whisky as much as possible, it is usually more complex, so it may still have been a little 'uncomfortable'.
Taste: The hint of peat from the nose is joined by some light smoke, before giving way to salty, dry sherry, some dry spices and brine. Some salted caramel and tart fruit adds a tiny amount of sweetness, but savoury notes are the leaders here.
Finish: Medium, drying (saliva-inducing!). Earthy peat, salt and dry sherry remain until the end, leaving with wisps of smoke and subtle wood.
Score: 3.5 out of 5.
Comments: Excellent quality, but perhaps not suitable for a beginner whisky drinker, the dry and sometimes sour notes may be off-putting. Personally, I find them intriguing and very enjoyable. I have tried the Longrow version (Longrow CV) from Springbank distillery, and although it's more noticeably peated, I do prefer the Springbank at this stage. I would love to give the Springbank 12yo cask strength bottling a go, I think it would be amazing. Springbank in general are producing outstanding quality whisky, with true 'craft presentation' (no colouring or chill-filtering, and bottling at 46%) and traditional production methods adding to their reputation. Keep it up please Springbank!
Being a little more low-profile than some brands, it can be more difficult to find, but can usually be found on online whisky shops such as this one, or in specialist whisky bars retailers. If you see it, give it a go! Cheers.