Campbeltown – Springbank 10 year 46%

This isn’t my first Campbeltown trio… Even more so, we are no stranger to Springbank distillery – I counted over a dozen different tasting experiences from the last few years! I’ve even tried this 10 year expression – back in 2015 and again 2019. Overall the experiences have been positive, so I was curious to see what we find this time around!

This whisky was sampled on two occasions – once by a mixed group from London to Paris to Nurnberg and Mumbai and the 2nd as a combination of Whisky Ladies connecting virtual and a very small group in real life, culminating in a comparison of our experiences.

Springbank 10 year 46%

  • Nose
    • Mixed group – Fruity, honey, fresh wood, tropical fruit – particularly pink guava, pineapple, toffee and vanilla cream, cake frosting and pastry…
    • Ladies virtual  – Started off as tropic spice, apricot, opening up to increasing sweetness, cream… over time some maple honey emerged with cereals
  • Palate
    • Mixed Group – Subtle peat, smoky, salty, a nice woodiness… after the 2nd sip, sweet spice of nutmeg, allspice, dry cherry
    • Ladies virtual – The first sip was a bit harsh – burning down the throat to the finish. After the initial spice kick, further sips were easier but still lots of black pepper and nutmeg
  • Finish
    • Mixed Group – Lighter touch, like a dry wine finish, bit bitter and peppery
    • Ladies virtual – Very peppery finish, quite dry
  • Water – Lots of overripe fruit, spicier, sour fruit (tried only by the mixed group)

Our mixed group was a bit more charitable in our overall assessment We found that while initially there was no hint of peat on the nose, it came through on the palate. While it wasn’t a crowd pleaser, we found it settled into a mellow sweet peat.

The Ladies were all pretty clear that this one did not impress. Several had otherwise good Springbank experiences – including a venerable Springbank 37 year! Those who joined iRL, found it bitter, oily with some cilantro. Especially when we revisited it after trying the others, it was flat to the nose and palate. Disappointing I’m afraid.

What about the Springbank official tasting notes?

Our 10-year-old offers whisky drinkers the perfect introduction to the Springbank range. Matured in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks, it is perfectly balanced from the first sip through to the full, rich finish.

  • Nose: Orchard fruit (pear) with a hint of peat, vanilla and malt.
  • Palate: Malt, oak, spice, nutmeg and cinnamon, vanilla essence.
  • Finish: Sweet, with a lingering salty tingle.

Would we agree? Not really…

What else did we explore in our Campbeltown evening?

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Original Club – Springbank 10 year 46%

Representing Campbeltown, our host selected this classic Springbank 10 year as part of our tasting trio.

We sampled it blind following and were completely taken aback – it wasn’t at all like what we have come to expect from Springbank. Read on and discover why…

Springbank 10 year 46%

  • Nose – Jackfruit, cream, old fruit, was there a hint of smoke or peat? Mandarin orange, marshmallow, then solvent? Huh? Which shifted into paan or betel leaf, vanilla, very sweet, grass
  • Palate – Surprisingly soft, orange marmalade, then peat, sweet and even more peat and sweet
  • Finish – There but not much, sweet lemon rind

This one didn’t quite sit right with us… there was a flat tone, one even called it insipid? We certainly thought it had a lower alcohol content than the one before… and we were stumped, we simply couldn’t place it.

The reveal was a shocker. Several of us – myself included – are quite fond of Campbeltown whiskies with this Springbank 10 year a standard.

How then did it not have any of the elements we normally expect? Where was the pear, yummy rich nutty oak, vanilla, pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, a sweet dry yet satisfying finish??

And that’s where we realised without a doubt the impact of the tasting order. Starting off with the powerful peaty Caol Ila, the more delicate Springbank wasn’t able to reveal its true character. Setting them all aside and then coming back after the Scapa made such a difference.

What else did we explore?

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Singapore Saturday Sipping… Crown Royal, Bruichladdich, Springbank + Kilchoman

It was one of those sociable Saturday evenings in Singapore…

It also happened to be the home of a fellow malt aficionado and ex Mumbai tasting group member. On my last trip we took on an eight dram marathon at The Auld Alliance. This trip we swapped such revelries for a family and friends affair with great company, delicious food and… yes… a whisky or two or three!

I will openly admit, it was a fully social setting so it wasn’t like I jotted down tasting notes until the last… when we decided to have a little impromptu ‘tasting’ experience to close the night.

Crown-Royal-Northern-Harvest-Rye

Official CrownRoyal website

However, formal tasting notes or not… we still covered four rather distinctive whiskies in one evening!

Shortly after I arrived, a mystery glass was brought out as a teaser. What did I find?

  • Nose – A sparkling quality like having a whiff of proseco or sparkling apple cider
  • Palate – Some spice yet overall smooth, vanilla – clearly not Scottish, not bourbon, not having the sophistication one associates with Japan…
  • Finish – Sweet spice wood then fades away

The ‘punch line’ was that this particular bottle just so happens to be from Gimli, Manitoba… my home province in Canada. And – you guessed it – was Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye which has literally flown off the shelves globally thanks to Jim Murray’s recent recognition of it as 2016 World’s Best Whisky.

The bottle was snagged in the US by a friend’s brother and brought to Singapore… part of the stash that will be coming into India soon. Gotta love globe-trotting whisky!

Overall what did I think? Honestly – it is not bad for a Rye and really quite excellent for $30 whisk(e)y but… come on… world’s best whisky? Seriously?

The Organic Scottish Barley (Whisky Lady)

The Organic Scottish Barley (Whisky Lady)

With this start to our evening, our host then pulled out the Bruichladdich The Organic 50%:

  • Nose – That overripe fruit to the point of being rotten
  • Palate – Young, a bit of spice, sourness
  • Finish – Still a bit ‘queer’

Just not aligning with my mood for the evening… I simply could not wrap my palate around the extra over-ripe quality.

So our host took pity on my pickiness and out came a reliable dram – Springbank 10 year 46%.

  • Nose – Pear, a hint of peat
  • Palate – Yum – cinnamon and nutmeg, rich oak, a bit nutty
  • Finish – Dry, sweet, salty

Khanna (food) then became the focus… was happily consumed and our evening was winding its way to a close. As the deserts and tea came out… so too did a bunch of glasses for a semi ‘proper’ tasting session. What did we sample?

Kilchoman (Whisky Lady)

Kilchoman (Whisky Lady)

Kilchoman Machir Bay 46%

  • Nose – Honey, cough syrup, leather, medicine and surgical wipes, fruity like peach and grape, very light not a hint of peat, vanilla, sweet, like an apple orchard, quite youthful
  • Palate – Peaty, sharp, black pepper, young, woody, bitter cinnamon bark, a little oily, star anise
  • Finish – Dry wine, a rawness
  • Overall – While not mature and still a bit raw it is also like a procosious youngster – lots of promise, worth checking out and quite remarkable for such a young whisky.

Our host shared tales of his visit to Kilchoman’s distillery and shared how it ‘transformed’ expectations of a young whisky. I was again reminded that for me at least, the Kilchoman Coull Point stands out.

What fun to revisit a few whiskies… and a perfect close to a most enjoyable trip to Singapore.

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