Some distilleries have quite a cult following and people buy up the releases without even thinking about it. If you don’t get the same experience from the whisky you are “meant” to get you can feel like quite the outsider.
Springbank has always been that kind of distillery to me. In my only other Springbank review I mentioned how it was pretty good but people who buy Springbank regularly turned up their noses. To go back and look it can be found at Springbank 12 Year Old Green
The Springbank distillery is owned by J&A Mitchell which has been owned by the same family since 1828.
The campbeltown region on the Kintyre peninsula was historically a very popular area for whisky production. The location of the region close to Ireland and easily accessible to ships was key to the quantity of distilleries which sprang up the area. Additional benefits for production in the area include a local coal mine, local peat and local barley. At its peak over two centuries ago their were around thirty active distilleries supplying blenders in Scotland.
Today the region might only have three working distilleries in the form of Springbank, Glenglye and Glen Scotia but there is a renewed activity in the area. Springbank has been invested in heavily in the last seven years with a 50 strong workforce, renewed visitor experience and the independent bottle shop Cadenhead’s, which they own, has been moved to a more prominent place in the town. Glengyle has recently released its first core 12 year old bottle to critical acclaim and finally Glen Scotia has been bought over by an investment company and expanded with a new branding available globally.
Since 2014 Campbeltown has run its own whisky festival. All three distilleries get involved in special visitor events as well as other non whisky related local enterprises. The timing of the festival is always set to be the week before the Islay festival so whisky tourists from all over the world can be involved before catching the ferry to Islay.
The Springbank 22 year old was distilled on 10th May 1996 and bottled in 2018 producing 249 bottles at 55% ABV. The colour is natural and the strength is as it came out the cask. The usual routine in other words.
The price is the part which seems to be surprising people is the price. The RRP for this is £350 which I don’t think is outrageous pricing in the current market. Would I spent that kind of cash on whim on whisky? No of course not but why would someone sell a cask and/or bottle a cask of this age for £150 ish so that the secondary market can recoup the actual market value of the bottle. It’s a sad state of affairs perhaps but that is the reality.
Colour – Golden
Nose – Another nutty and caramel nose but this time with brine and seaweed added. There is just a hint of some exotic fruits before a dusty smouldering wood note develops.
Palate – Wow the palate is even better than the nose! This is sooty and filled with tobacco smoke that has gone stale. The texture as well is just marvellous and holds layers of flavours between sweet, salty and smoky.
Finish – The brine and old smoking rooms continues on the finish which is long and lingering. Lemon kippers and some heat from chilli peppers completes the Springbank 22 year old.
This is an amazing whisky which I thought was the standout performance of the five samples. At £350 its not a whisky you should buy on a whim but compared to some older Springbank’s bottled at cask strength this is actually on the lower end of the spectrum. I know a lot of people have commented that this is more expensive the official 21 year old release but that was 46% and had a bunch of rum casks in the mix. This one is a single cask which is raw, expressive and vibrant as a result.
Regardless of the price I would definitely be putting this on my list to Santa. The only question that remains is have you been good enough this year?