Whisky Advocate Award: Lowland – Campbeltown Single Malt of the YearFebruary 11th, 2012
Springbank 18 year old (2nd Edition), 46%, $150
Some distillers consciously set out to create trends and develop profiles, while others follow. A few more, however, really don’t give a damn about such things, and no one gives less of a damn than Springbank. Working on the ‘build it and they will come’ principle (as in God to Noah and the movie Field of Dreams), Springbank has developed a reputation for studiously avoiding trends and simply making excellent single malt whisky just the way it wants to.
The adjective ‘iconic’ is all too often lazily used as shorthand for something the writer cannot be bothered to pin down more specifically, but Springbank really does deserve the sobriquet, having almost single-handedly carried the torch for Campbeltown single malts and the whisky-producing region’s rich heritage through good times and lean; mostly lean.
Springbank remains one of the last family-owned distilleries in Scotland, and the distillery itself is superbly idiosyncratic, continuing to malt its own barley on traditional malting floors and to bottle on site. Three distinct types of spirit are produced, namely Springbank (distilled two and a half times), Longrow (heavily-peated and distilled twice), and Hazelburn (unpeated and triple distilled). The wash still is unique in being heated both by internal steam coils and direct-fired by oil.
It is an open secret that Springbank does not possess significant amounts of old stock, but 2012 is expected to see a very limited release of 21 year old, feted as a classic when previously bottled. For now, however, we have the second edition of the 18 year old version to savor. First released in 2009, with an additional bottling the following year, this expression has a high percentage of sherry wood-matured spirit in the mix, and it epitomizes the quirky, individualistic, robust, traditional Campbeltown single malt at its very finest. —Gavin Smith (Photo by Jeff Harris)
Join us tomorrow when we reveal Whisky Advocate’s Distillery of the Year award recipient.