Few distilleries, actually make that no other distillery, sticks to its traditions and ethics such as Springbank. Whether its the harsh reality of its geographical location within Scotland that forces such a soloist role, or a sheer stubborness and reluctance to adopt modern practises is open to debate. I feel that it is ultimately a combination of both and a dedication to that unique Springbank formula.
Campbeltown is a remote town in Argyll-shire for those that haven’t made the long journey. Departing from Glasgow and following the shoreline around Loch Fyne, you’ll reach a crossroads before following the B842 towards Campbeltown. It’s an enjoyable and scenic route with a whisky highlight at the end of your tour. It’s in this town that Springbank was established in 1828 on the southern end of the Kintyre peninsula. Here they malt, mill, mash and everything else involved in the production process right through to the maturation and bottling. So when you pick up a Springbank you know it hasn’t left this distinctive region of Scotland until it was shipped off across the world for sale.
Historians and enthusiasts will know that at one time Campbeltown was the whisky capital of the world; overshadowing anything that Islay or Speyside could muster. Once home to around 30 distilleries, the whole town revolved around whisky and it’s port was the ideal departure point for shipping its wares to blenders and foreign markets. All good things come to an end and with too much whisky being produced along with some dubious levels of quality, many Campbeltown distilleries ceased to exist.
Today we have just Springbank, Glen Scotia and the revived Glengyle that will be bottling its first 12 year old very soon; next month in fact. It’s a glorious whisky full of character and flavour that can be seen from 2015’s Work In Progress Cask Strength Bourbon release. Glengyle will be known as Kilkerran and should go onto world domination from what I’ve tasted so far. The world has moved on and whilst the number of distilleries shrank, the town’s population today only numbers around 5000, while in 1841 it was almost double that.
Back to its Campbeltown neighbour and this Springbank 12 year old matured in fresh Burgundy wine casks. A worldwide release limited to just over ten thousand bottles and at a strength of 53.5%. If you can locate an example expect it to set you back around £60. Fortunately I did managed to grab a bottle before it sold out locally, so here goes…
Springbank Burgundy 12 year old – review
Colour: Quercus rubra
On the nose: lots of red berries with raspberries and strawberry jam. Verging almost on cherries in syrup. A little chocolate, a twist of lemon as well. More honey and sherbet with some orange peel. A slight fizz, or a Champagne sparkle and at the back a good twist of black pepper and all spice.
In the mouth: surprisingly not a punchy in-your-face Springbank. It’s more mellow and a pleasing oily texture. Refined, with a light sprinkling of those red berry characteristics now. Honey, pepper and oats with more of the chocolate presence.
A gorgeous nose and a solid palate at a very attractive price. What’s not to like here? A real crowd-pleaser and one that may prove enjoyable to those who normally don’t like the full blown diesel locomotive of a cask strength Springbank such as the Batch 12 release and prefer more fruity subtle flavours.