See this post for more detailed history on Springbank. A hundred years ago Campbeltown was the whisky capital of the world with over 30 distilleries operating in the little town. With just 1,969 residents, Campbeltown was reputed to be the richest town per capita in Britain thanks to the success of the whisky industry at that time. The town was known for producing the highest quality whisky which were in heavy demand by blenders. However in the 1920s distillers in the town began cutting corners in order to meet demand. In other words they began to stress quantity over quality. This shortsightedness led to their eventual downfall and blenders soon turned their backs from Campbeltown due to the decline in quality. Currently only three distilleries remain in the area: Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia. Springbank in particular was able to maintain their quality and keep their accounts open as distillery after distillery closed their doors in Campbeltown. The Mitchell family has maintained ownership and operation of Springbank for it’s entire history which is a testament to their consistency
The whisky I’m reviewing today was distilled July 8,1991 and bottled by Lombard Jewels of Scotland on June 20 2013. Lombard purchases whisky directly from distilleries then matures, holds and bottles it’s own stock. Maturation took place in a Bourbon Hogshead yielding only 263 bottles. The whisky is not diluted and bottled at a natural cask strength of 49.7%. According to some this whisky reminds them of great Springbank whiskies distilled in the 1960s and 1970s, though I personally can’t vouch.
Nose: green apples, guava, pineapple, oranges, orange rinds, fresh sea breeze, sandalwood, bananas
Mouth: briny, delicate, vanilla, pineapple, mangoes, hint of smoke
Finish: smoky, peppery, roasted anchovies, toasted nuts, fading campfire
Verdict: This whisky starts out with tropical fruits on nose. Specifically there are loads of pineapples, guava, bananas, oranges and green apples. There’s also a hint of fresh sea breeze which I can only describe as briny in nature. During maturation this oak cask must have soaked in the characteristics of the nearby Kidalloig bay which Springbank is nestled in. The nose is quite strong but the whisky is actually very delicate on the mouth. There’s brine again accompanied by vanilla, mangoes, pineapple and a hint of smoke. The finish is equally lovely and subtle with toasted nuts, roasted anchovies and light smoke. The finish smells like a campfire that burnt itself to ashes. This whisky is absolutely unique and delicious. The sea breeze/briny flavors are very evident from start to finish. This is certainly a special whisky that would best be reserved for special occasions or collectors. This is a whole other side of Springbank that I haven’t tasted before and if it reminiscent of their whisky from the 1960s/1970s as some assert, then that truly must have been a golden era. Kudos to Lombard Jewels of Scotland for bottling this gem.
Special thanks to Impex Beverages and D&M Liquors for generously providing a sample