Whisky Advocate

Whisky Advocate Award: Lowland – Campbeltown Single Malt of the Year

February 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.

No Responses to “Whisky Advocate Award: Lowland – Campbeltown Single Malt of the Year”

  1. Paul M. says:

    No comments, how unusual. Do you know if the 21 will be coming to the states?

  2. mongo says:

    i think ‘d have more to say about all the regional “malt of the year” awards if the write-ups had a little more detail on the whiskies themselves, and what qualities made them stand out over other contenders. in this case, for example, it seems like the 18 was picked because it’s the oldest springbank expression currently in general circulation. i’m sure that’s not the reason, but for an award like this i would expect a little more than the brief tasting notes, and far less of the discussion of the distillery per se and its distillation methodsn (none of which has any new information in it to comment on). why is this one more deserving, for instance, than the 15yo? or the various sherry/madeira single casks? or over anything from glen scotia for that matter–talk about a distillery that needs some encouragement to make more single malt expressions available.

    and given the reported price of the 21 in the u.k i’m petrified of what it would end up being in the u.s after going through the triple markup system.

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