After the last two months of ‘New World’ whiskies from mere babes of distilleries (comparatively) – we head back to a distillery that is not only one of the oldest Scottish distilleries, but is still owned and run by the original family who built it. Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to feature a Scottish icon this month – the Springbank 15 year old. Aged completely in Oloroso sherry casks, this delicately smokey fruit cake of a whisky is the perfect after dinner whisky now the cooler weather has arrived.

The Springbank 15 year old is only very lightly peated. The smokiness of the peat is very subdued (but still there), giving just enough ‘oomph’ to take the edge off the sweetness of the malt.

The Springbank Distillery employ completely traditional methods in all aspects of the production. They floor malt 100% of their own barley, in their own traditional peat-burning malt house (one of only two distilleries left in Scotland who still do so). They still use the same local water source they always have.  They still distil ‘by feel’ – rather than computer control. In fact, the family oversees every stage of their whiskies production from malting the barley, right through to bottling.

Three brands come out of the Springbank Distillery – Springbank is the ‘flagship’ brand accounting for about 80% of the distilleries production. It is lightly peated (12-15ppm) and distilled 2.8 times. Yes, that’s right 2.8 times. Hold on and I’ll explain that one in a bit.

The Springbank 15 year old is a superb whisky from deep in the history of Scottish Single Malt Whisky! Enjoy!

Nose: Initial very brief and subdued flash of aniseed notes gives way to salty plumbs, nuts and is that just a suggestion of savoury salami in the background?

Palate: Fruity and sweet. Honey, coffee and dark chocolate with a beautiful viscous mouthfeel and a slight spicey-ness.

Finish: Sweet, long, fruity and Loooong!. Any peaty-ness is soon gone leaving a smooth warming and very satisfying chew! Did I say LOOOONG!

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THE 2.8 TIMES DISTILLATION PROCESS

Firstly – let’s talk about the 2.8 times distilled business.

That doesn’t really roll of the tongue does it. Why not just triple distil it? Well, that wouldn’t make it quite so interesting nor difficult to describe in writing, would it. The whole point of distilling fermented barley (beer without the hops), is to purify it. Normally, the first stage is the wash still, which increases the alcohol from about 5% up to about 20%. It is then sent to the low wine still, where it is taken up to about 72%, then diluted back to 63.5% before going into a cask.

Springbank does it a bit different (hmmm, I’m sensing a recurring theme here…). They use 3 stills – a wash still, then 2 low wines stills.
The reason the Springbank is 2.8 times distilled is that the top of the first low wines still is mixed with 20% of the condensate from the wash still, so only 80% goes through the third distillation, the other 20% by passes the middle still, to only receive double distillation. A diagram says it much better… so here’s a diagram to illustrate:

DISTILLERS NOTES

ABV: 46%
Bottle Size: 700ml
Region: Scotland – Campbeltown
Peated: Yes (lightly)
Chill Filtered : No

With a smooth and creamy palate, our 15yo is the perfect after dinner whisky.

Like a storm gathering off the Kintyre coast, our 15-year-old Springbank is dark and ominous, yet delicious. Best enjoyed after dinner or with your favourite cigar, this is a true classic.

Nose: Demerara sugar, dark chocolate, Christmas cake, almonds, toffee, oak.
Palate: Creamy, raisins, dark chocolate, figs, marzipan, brazil nuts and vanilla.
Finish: Oak and sherry notes sustain and mingle with hints of leather.

Springbank 15 year old

ABOUT THE DISTILLERY

The Springbank Distillery has operated since 1828 in the middle of Campbeltown. It is still owned by the Mitchell family who not only created the ‘legal’ distillery, but purportedly had much to do with the huge illicit whisky industry in the same town prior to the ‘legitimate’ distilleries construction. Their distillery remains the oldest independent family owned distillery in Scotland. That the Mitchell family are still running the same distillery their ancestors built gives solid evidence of the skill and credibility of the family, and the quality of the product. It also makes Springbank the oldest independent family-owned distillery in Scotland.

The Campbeltown region was once the most productive of all the Scottish whisky regions. Located in the south of the Mull of Kintyre (yes, the same one Paul McCartney made famous) – Campbeltown whiskies have long been regarded as having a style of their own – hence being recognized as a distinct ‘whisky region’ of Scotland.

The first record of commercial whisky production in Campbeltown dates back to 1636 – when the town was named Lochhead. The abundance of good water, peat and barley in the area made it perfect for distillers and whisky production (both legal and illicit) flourished. The fantastic natural harbour on which Campbeltown sits made distribution of the whisky easy as well as the import of supplies once the production outstripped the local produce.

Springbank 15 year old
Springbank 15 year old

One particular family of coppersmiths [with a penchant for meticulous record keeping] made over 50 distilling setups for illicit distillers between 1811 and 1817. Robert Armour’s (the coppersmith in question) stills book even records their locations! At the peak of its fame, in 1851, Campbeltown boasted no less than 29 legal distilleries.

Springbank stands apart from most modern distilleries in that it still uses traditional methods in many of the steps of the whisky-making process. Traditional floor malting of the barley is still a part of the process at Springbank. In fact, not only does Springbank supply the entirety of its own production, it also supplies the nearby Glengyle distillery it’s malt.

Hand-in-hand with this is the use of traditional under-floor peat fire to dry the malted barley. They also still use the local spring water to steep the barley and in the mashing process, whereas most distilleries now use commercially purified water rather than the local water source.

Three brands come out of the Springbank distillery – Springbank is the ‘flagship’ brand accounting for about 80% of the distilleries production. It is lightly peated (12-15ppm) and distilled 2.8 times. Yes that’s right 2.8 times. Hold on and I’ll explain that one in a bit.
Longrow is the distilleries ‘Heavily peated’ brand with peat levels of 50-55ppm. It is a plain double distillation. 10% of the distilleries production goes into the Longrow brand.

The remaining 10% of the distilleries output is their Hazelburn brand. Triple distilled and non-peated it completes the trilogy guaranteeing there is a Springbank product to suit all tastes.