Up until recently I was not very impressed by Springbank whisky. Although i have not tried many expressions , those i did try did not leave a great impression on me. Some of my fellow bloggers and friends (Yossi , Jason) are keen Springbank followers and i really tried to give SB a chance and to like it. Springbank does have a cult following , similar to that of Ardbeg and other Iconic distilleries and those who seem to like it , Love pretty much everything that comes out of Campbeltown.
Essentially SpringBank produces 3 lines of single malts : Springbank which is lightly peated (around 15 ppm), Longrow which is strongly peated (around 55 ppm) and Hazelburn which is not peated at all. All three lines are produced at the same stills. Most of the year Springbank is being produced where Longrow and HazelBurn are produced only about 2 months a year each. In addition the number of distillations varies from line to line : Springbank is distilled 2.5 times (yes, i know. the 2.5 times issues is indeed a mystery to many, but essentially it means some of the spirit is distilled 2 times and some is allowed back to be distilled 3 times…) . Longrow is distilled twice, and Hazelburn is distilled three times.
Longrow which i will be reviewing is named after a former Campbeltown distillery that is no more, which stood next to Springbank and some if it is nowadays used by the SB distillery.
I’ve attached a wee drawing (from the SB site) to explain how Longrow distillation works:
The Longrow line has been first introduced in 1973, and is matured in both Bourbon and Sherry casks, which give it a very nice and interesting profile.
Longrow 14 , 46% ABV
Nose: subtle oak, malt, traces of peat and smoke which are light for a ‘heavily peated’ Campbeltown. i might be accustomed to Islay peated beasts but i like this one too even though it’s doesn’t feel like 55 ppm to me. rather fresh nose, with some milk chocolate… interesting. mix of the chocolate smoke and the oak, and then some melted butter. peat too. but not coastal briny stuff, it’s different. ermmmm. nice.
Palate: Big , viscous feeling to it. sweetness and those distant embers of peat burning in the distance hit the tongue and palate.wet damp soil. Lovely stuff. Peat, here we come, but it’s not Islay here. Should it strive to be Islay? No, it’s right on the spot.
Finish : Definitely peat, some briny notes remain, no medicinal notes whatsoever, but very interesting feel to the peat. smoke stays with you quite a bit! Oak comes back at you after a few seconds, and also sort of chewed cold cigar which is not burning for quite some time. cigar embers… that’s it! Lovely stuff .
The bottom line:
This is indeed an interesting and lovely dram. Maybe i needed that extra peat and sherry maturation in order to enjoy those Campbeltown malts. I am now looking forward to tasting the 10-year-old Longrow. From what i heard, it’s supposed to be a bit different and not as good, but i am keeping an open mind about this.