The epitome of tradition is to be found in this expression, fully matured in sherry casks. As I mentioned in the post reviewing the 12 Year Old Cask Strength, my choice of the best Springbank expression is between these two – the 15 or the 12 Cask Strength.
The Springbank tasting I took part in the other week didn’t have the 15. Happily, my friend Shai Gilboa (@sgilboa) has a bottle and was most generous in sharing a sample with me. Thank you, Shai!
Springbank was established in 1828, at a time when Capmpbletown was the capital of whisky making, and would remain so for about 70 years. Through the turbulations of history, by the end of the 20th century, only three remain, one of whom – Glengyle – is a restoration of a mothballed distillery owned by Springbank and was operated until 2013 by the distillery staff. Of the 21 Campbeltown distilleries listed by Barnard in 1886, only two remained standing a half century later – Springbank and Glen Scotia. With the re-opening of the Glengyle Distillery in 2004, there are now three operating distilleries in this region.
One of the main reasons Springbank survived is the fact that it’s privately owned, and never left family hands since 1828 (first by the Reids, then by their in-laws the Mitchells, who own it to this day). Another reason is the company’s commitment to quality and consistency, which I think is most embodied in its recent decision to abandon the NAS wagon (for the Springbank brand, at least) and strengthen the aged core range and vintage expressions. This is the reason the Springbank CV, reviewed here in part one of the series, has been discontinued.
The spirit is distilled in a unique process, where parts of the low wines are distilled twice (thus making part of the spirit triple distilled) and part of them are saved as low wines, reaching only the last part of the distillation making the new make, in whole, “2.5 times distilled”. The malt used for Springbank is lightly peated to 15-20 ppm (on the pre distillation malt.
The Springbank 15 is the most traditional the core expressions, harking back to a time when oak barrels for aging whisky came almost exclusively from sherry casks. This expression, in my opinion, is tied for first place with the 12 Year Old Cask Strength (see my tasting notes here) in the core range.
Springbank 15 Years Old (46% ABV, NCF, NC)
Color: Amber, with a reddish tinge. Legs are medium quick.
Nose: Sweet spicy sangria wine, fresh summer fruit (peaches, apricots and plums), earthy notes, faint peat and sherry sweetness.
Palate: Thick and chewy, sweet with some bitter notes, light smokiness and apricot leather.
Linger: Bitter notes with a sweet overtone, warming the back of the throat and staying warm very long in the stomach.
Get a bottle, that’s if you’re lucky enough to live in a place where you can. Sadly, at this time, we have no importer bringing Springbank into Israel, so I’ll save what’s left of the sample I got from Shai 🙂