Ah, Springbank. My first distillery – you always remember your first time, right? The smell of the malting room floor, the sight of the stills. It’s been a few years since I’ve visited, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Springbank. It was the very first distillery tour I went on – and what an eye-opening experience it was – proper floor malting, piles of peat. Nicely simple and small-scale production, relatively speaking. Located in Campbeltown, which is tucked away in Argyll and Bute and takes longer than you think to get there, the distillery makes three types of whisky – Longrow (heavily peated), Springbank (lightly peated, generally sweeter) and Hazelburn (also unpeated, and triple distilled).
I’ve been a fan of their peated Longrow whiskies for many years, and the Longrow CV is pitch-perfect. They’ve been plonking the whisky in some interesting casks of late, such as the Hazelburn Sauternes finish. But I must confess, it’s been a while since I’ve actually tried a dram from them. Which brings me nicely to the Springbank 12 Year Old Cask Strength Batch 6. Distilled in 2001, matured in sherry and bourbon casks, and bottled in 2013 at 50.3% ABV
Colour: dark straw. On the nose: nice and fresh. Very coastal. Citrusy, zesty, briny. A bit of malted barley coming through. Vegetative, mossy. Just a gentle hint of something sweeter to come.
In the mouth: quite unusual, must admit. Wasn’t expecting quite that difference to the nose. It’s much sweeter, and with fuller flavours. Sultanas, grape juice. Mead, though not as sweet as that. The kind of honey sweetness, rather than a sherry cask syrup. A touch of light red wine, with a note of oak starting to shine through on the back. A medium weight in the mouth, not too thick, not too thin. There’s a sort of predictable complexity to all of this – as in, there’s nothing startling to the flavour profile, yet it’s reliable and very good company. An old friend, on top form.
You can pick a bottle of the newer 2014 version up for under £50, which is good value if you ask me. Give it a go, and while you’re there pick up the Longrow CV.