...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Single Malt Report: Springbank Spring Break (Part 2)

To continue from yesterday's report on the revelries...

It was going to be difficult to one-up those first two whiskies (Springbank Rundlets & Kilderkins and Longrow 10yr 1996).  So I decided to shift gears to a distillery whose whisky I'd never tried.

Glen Scotia 17yr 1991, Murray McDavid - Port Finished
Glen Scotia often sits in Springbank's Campbeltown shadow which is a pity because independent bottlers have been releasing a lot of well regarded whisky from this distillery.

They have a history of ownership switches, closings and openings.  From the Yearbook:

1832 - Founded by the Galbraith family
1895 - Sold to Stewart Galbraith
1919 - Sold to West Highland Malt Distillers
1924 - Duncan MacCallum buys the distillery
1928 - Distillery closes.
1930 - Duncan MacCallum kills himself.  New Ownership.
1933 - Production restarts.
1954 - Hiram Walker buys the distillery
1970 - A. Gillies & Co. buys the distillery
1979 - Reconstruction begins
1982 - Reconstruction ends
1984 - Distillery closes
1989 - Gibson International becomes the new owners.  Production restarts.
1994 - Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Ltd becomes the new owners.  Distillery closed.
1999 - Springbank's management help restart the distillery.
2000 - Loch Lomond Distillers now run the place.

With all of these management switcheroos, it's probably difficult to maintain a consistent product or brand.  But with Loch Lomond Distillers running the shop, things are looking up as these newest owners are upgrading all of the production equipment.

Glen Scotia has outlived two dozen other Campbeltown whiskymakers, so proper respects on that.  Although their current production is about as small as Kilchoman's, but their potential capacity is just as large as Springbank's.  So I think we'll be seeing more good stuff from them soon.

Distillery: Glen Scotia
Owner: Loch Lomond Distillery Co.
Independent Bottler: Murray McDavid
Age: 17 years (1991 - 2009)
Maturation: ex-bourbon
Finished: Port casks
Region: Campbeltown
Alcohol by Volume: 54%
Limited Release: 693 bottles

Because this was a Murray McDavid release, part of me hesitated before pouring.  Murray McDavid is an independent bottler that loves playing with finishing their releases in all sorts of unusual wine casks.  They call it ACE'ing or Advanced Cask Enhancement.  I had a horrid run-in with one of their Bowmores ACE'd in a Casket not a Cask (ooh, that one's good, I'm going to use that again).  But this Glen Scotia was ACE'd in Port, so......I was willing to risk it.

The color was a bright but dark amber (I don't even understand that.)  The nose was lovely.  Fresh ocean air, caramel candies, cherry lollipops, and not a hint of that hefty ABV.  The palate was not as candied but kept some of the fruitiness: Cherry lollies, dark berries, cognac, and some hot hot heat.  It had the most epic finish of all the sampled whiskies, an extensive sensation of cognac and cherries.

Another success!  Usually my palate doesn't take to Port finishes, but here it worked well.  Nice crafting by Glen Scotia and Murray McDavid.  And at an excellent price too; a 17yr cask strength limited bottling cheaper than most watered-down official bottles at that age.

Availability - Online UK specialists
Pricing - Stellar at 60-65GBP with shipping
Rating - 86

I had a wee sip of the Hazelburn 8yr 2002 Sauternes Finish.  I didn't fully dram it for two reasons.  Firstly, I've never had a Sauternes-finished whisky that I actually enjoyed.  Hazelburn has a very light spirit due to its triple-distillation, so I didn't think it could stand up to the sweet wine.  Secondly, the bottle was almost empty.

The high ABV (over 54%) helped silence some of the sweetness.  Though it still felt like a dessert liqueur.  Its dark cherry wood coloring was my favorite feature overall.

So that leaves us with the Springbank 17yr 1994, Berry's Own.

From the folks who brought you Cutty Sark----

No, that's the wrong way to start.

Berry Bros & Rudd. DO own the Cutty Sark brand, but they also have their hands on Glenrothes.  Let not your opinions of those institutions affect your feelings towards their indie bottlings.  (Unless you like Glenrothes, that's cool.  But you do not like Cutty Sark.  Seriously.)

What I'm trying to get at is that Berry Bros. & Rudd releases great independent bottlings.

Distillery: Springbank
Independent Bottler: Berry Bros. & Rudd
Age: 17 years (1994 - 2011)
Maturation: ex-bourbon, maybe finished with ex-Sherry?
Region: Campbeltown
Alcohol by Volume: 55%
Cask Number: 51

Let's get right to it.

Its color is almost mahogany.  Though the palate seems like it's quite bourboned, methinks the color betrays some sherry finishing.  Or artificial coloring (oh no!).  The nose is full of sticky bourbon and swimming pool, with a little salt (if that can be smelled) and red meat.  The palate is all big fruity malt. Very sugary sweet at the start then progressing to salt in the middle.  It finishes fruity sweet, yet the wood tannins dry out the tongue.

I couldn't find any peat in this one.  Maybe the age and wood mellowed it into silence.  Maybe I'm a sh*tty taster.

This whisky was the least sexy of the four, which isn't a bad thing.  Straight up cask strength Springbank is grand.  And I prefer when the spirit isn't hiding behind fancy finishes.  But where yesterday's Longrow 1996 showed its spirit's muscle and complexity, this spirit seemed to be mostly taking a snooze.  Not bad, but a bit quiet for something at its price.

Availability - Online UK specialists
Pricing - A bit much at 100GBP with shipping
Rating - 82

So whatever happened to this?

I don't know.  I left before the hazing began.


We buried the drunken watermelon on the 405.


I'll keep it a mystery...