The Springbank Family of Whiskies
Springbank & Co: Scotland's Finest
Springbank is unique for one very important reason: there are few distilleries in Scotland that do their own malting, of those there is only one that malts 100% of their barley - Springbank. If it were a wine, it would be a Chateau Bottled Claret of finest quality.
Springbank is Scotland's oldest legal distillery having had its license granted in 1828. Quite remarkably, it is still under ownership of the founding family, and is only one of two distilleries in Cambeltown which survived the ravages of prohibition in the States, which killed off 30 or so others in the town.
As a young lad I spent my summers in Cambeltown having grandparents who lived in the town, and have always grown up with the knowledge that Springbank is the best distillery in Scotland (therefore, the world). Now, middle-aged and old enough to appreciate these things, I totally concur.
Each bottling of Springbank is a unique product. The classic, of course, is their 10 Year Old which has pretty much year-round availability. Everything else, however, is a little less readily available. The 15YO comes and goes, the 12YO Cask Strength has to be grabbed when you see it. The 21YO is as rare as hen's teeth: and highly sought after. There is commonality between all of these and that's their unique-to-Springbank distillation method - 2 and half times as they call it, and all are gently peated.
Then there are the others versions. Longrow is fully peated and distilled, more conventionally, twice. Normally available as a no-age designated version with the occasional rarity such as the very limited 18 year old, which is now in stock
The final product from Springbank is Hazelburn which is the non-peated, three times distilled version. Try to imagine Campbeltown Whisky married to Irish Whiskey, and that will bring you close to the style of this. Also one of Springbank's rarities which comes and goes, so grab it when you see it.
Then, there is Kilkerrran. This is a separate distillery which the Springbank owners re-opened in the early 2000s, previously known as Glengyle. Kilkerran is made with the same attention to detail as Springbank - no chill-filtering, bottled at 46%, like all the others, and a supreme example of finest Scotch.
Richard Ballantyne MW