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Thursday, October 15, 2015

NOT Single Malt Report: Campbeltown Loch 21 year old Blended Whisky (40%abv version)

How about a blend made up of, "as much as 60%", 21 year old Springbank?  And at $70?  Sounds amazing, right?  You may notice though, that no one ever really raved (okay, maybe Ralfy) about the 40%abv version of Campbeltown Loch 21yo.  No "must buys" or "gold medals" or "5 stars".  I found this silence over a well-aged Springbank product kind of odd, so I bought a sample of it to find out if we were all missing out on something special.  I mean, the single malts coming out of Campbeltown are often fantastic, shouldn't their blends be good as well?  Anyway, as soon as I bought this sample, J&A Mitchell updated the blend giving it more modern packaging and a 46%abv.  Oh well, here's the old stuff.

Brand: Campbeltown Loch
Ownership: J&A Mitchell & Co. Ltd.
Type: Scotch Blended Whisky
Age: minimum 21 years old
Distilleries: Springbank (malt) and probably Girvan (grain)
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
(Sample purchased from Master of Malt in 2013)

The color is amber with a slight pink tint.  The nose is very mild.  Takes a moment before it wakes up.  Then...limes and soil.  Light vanilla, light sugar.  Light mango, light fresh apricot.  After 20 minutes a nondescript citrus note takes over -- kinda lime, kinda lemon, kinda grapefruit, kinda clementine.  A tiny bit of sherry, maybe a tinier bit of sulphur.  The palate is pretty malty.  Some strong caramel.  Dried apricots and dried pineapple.  After 30 minutes there's definite oloroso action (toffee, almonds, and dried cherries).  Plus a whisper of peat.  Salt and chewy caramels in the finish.  Some of the dried pineapple.  Eventually it gets some tart grapefruit, dried cherries, and a small smoke note.

Had I not known what I was drinking I'd have had no idea this had Springbank in it because it's yet another blend drowned in water, handcuffed by its minimum level 40%abv.  It's not bad and it's not entirely boring.  Its second wind of oloroso lifted it up a little.  But aside from the sherry and the fruit, there's really not much going on here.  Like many blends, it likely aims for "smooth" but doesn't entirely deliver on that or on any real character.  It needs more of everything.  Luckily, the 46%abv version replaced it.  Though I haven't had that version, I'd go for that one over this one.  Or I'd just buy an actual Springbank single malt instead.

Availability - This version, I don't know. New version, at many European specialty retailers.
Pricing - This version was $55-$75, the new version is $90-$110
Rating - 79