...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Single Malt Report: Springbank Spring Break (Part 1)

It's impressive how much energy one gets from a combination of near psychotic rage and a lack of sleep.  (And if you tittered when you read "near psychotic rage" then you clearly don't know my family.)  This morning, I cranked up my workout to a new high and finished it easily.  In fact, I could go back for a second round.  I could workout and eat all damn day.  And not a drop of caffeine.

That was totally irrelevant to this:

Maybe you need a close up?

This can only mean one thing.  SPRINGBANK SPRING BREAK with the LA SCOTCH CLUB!

This was the second Scotch Club event I've attended.  I'd been looking forward to this one for some time because I loves me some Campbeltown Malt Whisky.

On Saturday, we all met at one of the members' snazzy houses in Sherman Oaks.  There was swimmin' and eatin' and talkin' and drinkin'.  For me there was also a lot of hydratin' since I had an hour long freeway drive back home at the end of the night.

There were six malts on hand:
Longrow 10yr 1996
Longrow CV
Springbank 17yr 1994, Berry's Own
Springbank 10yr 2001, Rundlets & Kilderkins
Hazelburn 8yr 2002 Sauternes Finish
Glen Scotia 17yr 1991, Murray McDavid - Port Finished

I'll report on these per my sampling order.

Firstly, Springbank 10yr 2001, Rundlets & Kilderkins
I've been salivating like a dopey dog over this since I'd first heard about it.  It was a somewhat experimental Springbank release that they'd bottled this year.  It wasn't released in The States, so I'd been trying to Force Power it from my browser window onto my kitchen table for months.  Without luck.  Then I attempted to figure out the math for getting it shipped here and how I'd pay for it.

But Andy, Prez of the Club, came to the rescue when he brought this to the event.  I went directly to it, ignoring all other bottles.

So what makes this one different?  The Rundlets and Kilderkins.  And what are those cute sounding things?  They're tiny casks.

Approximate Cask sizes:
Tun - 955 litres
Port pipe - 528 litres
Sherry Butt - 491 litres
Hogshead - 250 litres
Bourbon barrel - 200 litres
Quarter Cask - 125 litres
Kilderkin - 80 litres
Rundlet - 60 litres

Smaller casks mean more spirit-to-wood contact which can effect (usually speed up) the whisky aging process.  Plus it brings all sorts of intensified flavors.  I've LOVED the two Quarter Cask whiskies that I've tried in the past.  Y me gusta Springbank también.

Distillery: Springbank
Age: minimum 10 years (9/2001 to 1/2012)
Maturation: Rundlets and Kilderkins!
Region: Campbeltown
Alcohol by Volume: 49.4%
Limited Release: 9000 bottles

Its color is a lovely dark clover honey shade.  The nose doesn't betray too much of the oak contact, that comes later.  It smells of creamy coconut (coconut cream?), vanilla, brash fruity malt, and is very floral. Its thick texture provides a rich sticky sweet palate full of almost rye-ish spices, honey, cherry sauce, and cough syrup (in a good way).  It finishes BIG with cinnamon, vanilla custard, toffee, and vegetal peat at the very end.

This grown man says, Yummy.  That has to be the dessertiest Springbank in history.  It's certainly the most rye-like Springer I've ever had.  To be more exacting, it's like Rye + Honey + Whisky.

Availability - Online UK specialists
Pricing - OK at 65-70GBP with shipping
Rating - 90

Next up was the Longrow 10yr 1996

Longrow (Springbank's heavily peated brand) put out a 10 year bottling each year from 2001 to 2006 with a birthdate listed (1991-1996).  Since then their 10 years have been bottled without the vintage listed.  This likely gives them the ability to provide the 10 year as needed (perhaps combining vintages) which is important since they're a tiny operation compared to Big Whisky.

I adore Longrow and the 10 year was on my Dram Quest, so here it goes:

Distillery: Longrow (Springbank)
Age: 10 years (1996 - 2006)
Maturation: ex-bourbon and ex-sherry (probably more ex-bourbon)
Region: Campbeltown
Alcohol by Volume: 46%

Its color sits somewhere between light honey and amber.  The nose starts with a quenched peat fire, then oaky coconut, mint, lots of citrus, salt, and maple syrup.  The palate is full of toffee, caramel sauce, wood smoke, vanilla, earthy peat, fruit cocktail juice, and brown sugar.  It finishes strong with that fruit cocktail juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and light peat.

It starts with the juicy, peaty characteristics; then, if you wait a bit, the maple syrup and brown sugar.  For all that though, it's not as much of a sweetie as the Rundlets.  Instead, the mint, smoke, and peat add dimensions to the fruit and sugar notes.  Another great one from the Longrow brand.

Availability - Some US specialists
Pricing - OK at $75-80 (don't pay $100, you can get it shipped from UK for less)
Rating - 91

I did not sample the Longrow CV because I have a bottle of my own!  And also I had that drive ahead of me.  But I do recommend the Longrow CV.  It was my favorite officially-bottled single malt I tried last year.

I DID drink a couple more of these Campbeltowners.  Stay tuned tomorrow for more......