...where distraction is the main attraction.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Single Malt Report: Springbank Distillery (part 1 of 4!)

A bit of an intro first.  As I'd referenced in some early Single Malt Reports, Scotland's whisky production is often divided up into six regions:

The Lowlands (ex: Glenkinchie & Auchentoshan)
The Highlands (ex: Oban & Glenmorangie)
The Islands (ex: Jura & Talisker)
Speyside (ex: Macallan & Glenfiddich)
Islay (ex: Bowmore & Laphroaig)

Let's zero in on Campbeltown.  Here's a pic of the famous phallus, the Kintyre peninsula:

The town of Campbeltown is nestled down southeast, right near the, um, head.

Packing thirty-four distilleries into its tiny town on a little Scottish peninsula, Campbeltown proclaimed that it was "the capital of the whisky world".  With the coastal air, bounties of water and peat, tonnes of barley, and an excellent shipping location it was the perfect region for whisky production in the 1800s.

But the 1900s weren't so kind.

Thirty-four distilleries packed into a small town wasn't sustainable.  First there was overproduction.  Then the railroads made Speyside more easily accessible.  Then The Depression hit.  But the nail in the coffin was the American Prohibition.  By the 1950s, only two distilleries remained.  And those two are still up and running today:  Springbank and Glen Scotia.

The larger of the two, Springbank, is quite impressive.  Still independently owned, they are one of the only distilleries to use their own barley in their maltings.  They've reinvested their profits by buying up and incorporating some of the silent stills from the defunct distilleries.  They've had the funding and resources to help out Glen Scotia with its own production.  They don't chillfilter and they don't add colouring.  And they produce four entirely different whiskies with completely different production methods, each with their own set of bottlings:  Springbank, Longrow, Hazelburn, and Kilkerran.

Kilkerran is still a baby, but they have released a malt that I will beg, borrow, and steal for before 2012 has finished.  But I have had a whisky from each of the other three.  In fact, I had all three during a single tasting:

And it was marvelous.  One of my favourite whisky afternoons, ever.  There's so much goodness here that I'm going to split these single malt reports up over the next three days.

[Tuesday] Lowland style - Hazelburn 8 year old
[Wednesday] Campbeltown style - Springbank 10 year old 100 proof (actually 57.15% ABV!)
[Thursday] Islay style - Longrow CV (a mix of malts from 6-14 years)

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