Springbank 12 Cask strength, Batch 14, bottled in January 2017 at 54.2%
Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea,
My desire is always to be here,
Oh Mull of Kintyre
Ok, so Springbank of Campbeltown doesn’t exactly hail from the Mull of Kintyre, but it’s well south on the Kintyre Peninsula – and “as the crow flies” it’s only a mere 10 miles or so from the southernmost tip.
This bottle is a bunch of firsts for me: my first “cask strength” whisky, my first Springbank whisky, and, therefore, also my first Campbeltown whisky. Despite not having tried Springbank previously, I was certain, based on correlation with what I know I like in a whisky, that this would hit the mark. Boy did this hit the mark for me! Being relatively new to the big wide world of single malt whisky, and having really only sampled from the usual range of entry level OB’s – I haven’t had the opportunity to try any really old stuff. However, this bottle is just how I imagine Scotch whisky tasted in bygone days. I found this bottle very evocative of another place, another time – I love the journey it takes me on. I also love the philosophy behind Springbank. This is part of the reason that they are enjoying a lot of recognition currently. That and they apparently make fantastic whisky! There is no little booklet of tasting notes that comes with the bottle – you’re not told what tastes we are supposed to find within. You even have to do your own detective work to find out that this is batch 14 of the 12 year old cask strength bottlings.
Nose: Sherry at the forefront, dried fruits, raisins sultanas. Merging with gentle oak and peatiness. Malt sweetness.
Palate: Malt sweetness. Marmalade. Dark sugar, burnt toffee. Fusty (like I imagine a dunnage warehouse) – old books, wet wood and hessian. Salty, brackish. Vegetal peat, a little iodine. Some leather and tobacco leaf. Baking spices, especially ginger – the dried form. White pepper providing additional warmth.
Finish: Combination of salty, peaty, savoury notes fading to a mouth coating tobacco smoke finish.
Being cask strength, I was expecting the nose to have a bit more punch than it does, and even the palate isn’t overly assertive. I didn’t appreciate how peaty this is until I had a wee dram following on after some Bunnahabhain - the peat is so well integrated rather than being dominant. Now I’ve got a little insight into the Springbank funk that people speak of – it’s quite tricky to put into words but is completely appealing. Highly recommended!