Campbeltown Malts Festival 2019: Springbank Society – Old & Bold

It’s 11:30am on a Wednesday and spirits are high. We are in for a treat.Springbank Society Flight.jpeg

[In total] “,…. there could be nearly 3000 Springbank Society members”, Mark Watt tells us. “Some may have died off”,…. “or killed off” comes the riposte.

I’m sat next to Drywall Jim. Now he’s actually a dry stone waller but that on-the-spot name sticks! Forgive me Jim. Jim is sat next to Karen from Drambusters.

Today’s session consists of three pairs of ‘Old & Bold’ cask samples from Hazelburn, Springbank & Longrow respectively. Whisky from these casks probably can’t/won’t be bottled as Society bottlings. So with that in mind, here we go!


Hazelburn 1997/2019 21yo Un-Ob. fresh sherry HHD cask sample 51.4%

Like last year, here’s another example of [one of] the oldest Hazelburn’s in the warehouse [link]. How much of that first 1997 vintage juice do they have?

Hazelburn 1997 21yo Un-Ob. fresh sherry HHD cask sample 51.4%.jpeg

  • N: Boy is this sherried. The colour alone will tell you that. With dark cherries featuring, it’s more dry-tannic than woody. Water doesn’t touch it, and then all of a sudden it drowns!
  • T: A bitter dark dry sherried travel,….
  • F: ,… yet never too dry, dependant to your preference.
  • C: Tastes just like it looks. If you want/love this all-sherry style you’ll be appeased. To the Dark Side for you! [link]

Scores 84 points


Hazelburn 2000/2019 18yo Un-Ob. Fresh Demerara rum barrel sample 50.3%

Drywall Jim pours me a dram from his 9yo Bladnoch private cask sample. It’s lovely stuff.

Hazelburn 2000 18yo Un-Ob. Fresh Demerara rum barrel sample 50.3%.jpeg

  • N: T: Back to the Hazelburn! I’m not getting much. It also clashes with the Bladnoch and the previous Hazelburn. Things improve considerably once my palate is clearer. We’ve then a well aged yet controlled whisky with no woodiness to speak of.
  • F: Putty mash all the way.
  • C: Rum casks? – the jury’s out. Got to be careful with Springbank’s lighter, more delicate spirit.

Scores 84 points


Springbank 1994/2019 24yo Un-Ob. refill sherry HHD cask sample #56 48.1%

Colour: the epitome of dark gold.

Springbank 1994 Un-Ob. refill sherry HHD cask sample 24yo #56 48.1%.jpeg

  • N: Now we’re talking! We are talking of a farmy linseed/putty barley character in the main, well tempered and welcoming. The sherry is so understated you’d be forgiven for thinking bourbon maturation.
  • T: That’s the ticket. More farmy barley action with a sublime mouthfeel and good form.
  • F: Honest and true. A little quiet to finish. 
  • C: Gotta love those refills. I can’t detect any sherry. The likeness to Port Ellen isn’t lost on me either.

Scores 88 points


Springbank 1991/2019 27yo Un-Ob. Refill sherry HHD cask sample #423 48.5%

Springbank 1991 Un-Ob. Refill sherry HHD cask sample 27yo #423 48.5%.jpeg

  • N: Regarding the sherry cask influence, this has a little and just enough – perfect for Springbank in my book. I pick out a desirable membrillo [quince jelly cube] note derived from the cask.
  • T: More membrillo and strawberry jams, subtle cinnamon bubblegum and a hint of sherbet & washing powder. 
  • F: A light finish that becomes a little sour.
  • C: Very good top half.

Scores 86 points


Longrow 1994/2019 24yo Un-Ob. refill bourbon HHD cask sample #16/509-16 51.8%

Longrow 1994 24yo Un-Ob. refill bourbon HHD cask sample #16:509-16 51.8%.jpeg

  • N: It took me a while, but I eventually start tapping into this one’s faint complexity.
  • T: Soot, ash and dried candy fruits, green vegetal candy string and a drop of chemical-y-yet-natural cleaning product.
  • F: Vegetal barley sugar with a touch of aniseed.
  • C: I so wanted to like this more and willed it on.

Scores 84 points


Longrow 1998 20yo Un-Ob. refill sherry butt sample  #1998-326 55.2%.jpeg

Longrow 1998/2019 20yo Un-Ob. refill sherry butt sample  #1998-326 55.2%

I was way too busy nattering to Jim & Karen to take decent notes.

  • C: With plenty on offer, I found this super tasty from start to finish. For the form, info and mouthfeel:

Scores 88 points


With thanks to everyone involved. A treat indeed!


After popping into the Springbank shop, we wander naturally into the still house, unannounced. The distiller sees us and beckons us in further. He reassures us that Springbank’s unique ethos won’t be lost when Hedley G. Wright [the current Chairman of Springbank and great-great grandson of Archibald Mitchell], hangs up his boots. “It’s all protected, tied up in a trust”, he says.

Springbank still house.jpeg

It’s a very different story at Glen Scotia who [typically] employ just four people. Springbank by comparison employ 90 locals! Bizarrely, Glen Scotia would appear more popular with local residents on the respective Open Day’s. That’s where we are headed to next.

Kudos to Springbank.


Further reading:








Springbank casks.jpeg

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