SWAG: A Campbeltown Carouse

Catching up on my note-taking backlog [as per usual], this was SWAG’s last tasting of 2021, a fortuitous postage-only event that came on the back of a fruitful Dingle tasting [one I’m still to visit]. This, our club’s end-of-year carouse, proved a great end to a troubled year [WLP].

  • Carouse [meaning]: drink alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.
  • In usage: “They danced and caroused until the drink ran out“.

Our flight is an all-bourbon-matured bonanza, so perhaps tonight, we shall see the more naked side of Campbeltown.

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Springbank Hand-Filled [11/10/2021] Ob. Distillery Exclusive [for Artisan Restaurant] 58.6%

A bottle filled from one of the glass demi-johns that typically sat on the shop’s countertop in Campbeltown. Essentially an infinity bottle, age-wise, this is believed to be anything from 6 to 17 years old.

  • N: A ‘classic’ refill-bourbon barley-faithful/honey straw, lightly toasted/charred Springbank with a fragrant dirtiness of flour, lavender, Vicks,… and spud guns?
  • T: Same again on the palate, a not too funky/cleaner, archetypal Springbank that prompts me to proclaim “If you don’t like this, you don’t like Springbank”. In 2020, I’d gone even further and declared “If you don’t like this Springbank, you don’t like whisky” [WLP]. Back to the dram in hand, this one works just fine, neat. Diluted a touch, it gets a little grainy/sandy and a tad hot.
  • F: With a strong heart, its faithfulness to the grain’s mash base is maintained,… flour-dry with a decent-length waxy chew and a pinch of oily peatiness to the last.
  • C: Quintessential ‘bog standard’ Springbank. What other distillery comes close to this homemade farmhouse solera whisky style? £55-60 with your name on it = bargain,… now triple that on the ‘secondary’.

Scores 88 points.

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A strong start indeed. For our second dram, we are popping up the road.

Glen Scotia 2010 10yo SMWS 93.157 ‘Cherry Blossom in Campbeltown’ [225 bts] 59.6% WB86.75[7]

  • N: Rich, creamy, and extremely grain-like & vanilla-e y at first, seemingly presiding from an ex-bourbon cask freshness. Developing descriptors include hessian, chunky stale tea leaves, a confectionary baker’s floral fruitiness, Kipling’s French Fancies – the yellow/lemon one’s – ginger & burdock,… Being salty overall, later, I pick up on the more savoury aspects such as olive oil-drizzled green tomatoes [somewhat in-line with SMWS notes of ‘,.. Caprese salad made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, sweet basil and seasoned with olive oil and salt‘], as well as rose water,…. Lynx? Then there’s the deep yet distant almost medicinal two-day-old fabric plaster, and certainly, a dirty oily peatiness. Cracking nose with numerous murky all-sorts to peel over.
  • T: Concentrated arrival in the centre of the palate. Whilst the strange/complex perfume theme towards herbal dry liqueurs continues, we’ve a spiciness too. We see several gear changes at the middle stages from this slightly sporadic/excitable, even frenetic malt.
  • F: Vibrant cask activity just about holds it all together. Remains salty and spicy, and with sun-dried tomatoes, we’ve that fresh salad character to the last,… vanilla wafer too.
  • C: As good a whisky as the SMWS notes describe, bravo to both. Though many people’s favourite dram of the night, for me, it’s a tad overly bourbon-ized to trump the hand-filled Springbank though the overall result from a fresh cask is commendable.

Scores 87 points

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Springbank 12yo [2021] Ob. CS Batch #23 55.9% WB89.21[263]

  • N: Matured in 100% bourbon casks [once again], we’ve Springbank’s immutable funk in the form of chicken mushroom pie,… Cuppa Soup, rubber bouncy balls, something unusually perfumed such as fruity satsumas wrapped in suede, a touch of plasticine, icing sugar, calendula oil, beeswax, a drop of parma violets,… what’s not to like? A cracking nose, a good read.
  • T: We pick up right from where we left off from the nose towards a savoury trajectory. With a lighter body than the hand-filled number, it’s nevertheless salty and prickly [in a good way],… and rather dry if not drying. Descriptors-wise, we’ve notes of vanilla linseed, something around charred seaweed,…
  • F: Grainy, still salty > spicy /< vibrant,…. sustaining, more greasy with water,… Indeed, it’s not the most accomplished swimmer though essence of barley it remains at heart.
  • C: Decent malt even if it doesn’t quite match previous CS releases [2020: WLP89]. Regardless, it hasn’t stopped these bottles fetching three times last year’s rrp, at auction.

Scores 86 points

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Springbank 2013/2021 6yo [2021] Ob. Cage Bottling Warehouse #5 Rotation #87 56.7%

  • N: Another good read, I pick up on sweet lemon barley sugar, aspartame-sweetened pickled ginger, something earthy – a root veg sweetness such as grated miso carrots, leeks, soiled potatoes,… quince jelly, a suggestion of parma violet [again], something of Hornby railways,… Great!
  • T: A straight-ahead/clean if sharp & gacky powerhouse of a delivery, turning dry-lemon sour~dry-ish if sustained, even salivating barley juice on the turn [neat] though with plenty of cinnamon on roof of mouth – this all sealed with Springbank’s inimitable charm.
  • F: Remains gacky and waxy whilst displaying an incredible bone-dry maturity at just 6 years. A tad sour to bitter at the tail.
  • C: Rather a curiously for its age, I was thinking it more a flavour-fading 16yo at times. Best not to over-think this excellent no funny business young malt. Get it drunk, get it enjoyed.

Scores 87 points

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Not forgetting Glengyle, we finish with a funky one.

[Glengyle] Kilkerran The Tasting Room [2021] Ob. Living Cask 58.1% WB0

Bottled on 23/02/21, this particular bottle was bought by a punter in Germany who declined it due to the additional Brexit taxes/fees. As a result, it remained in the shop for SWAG’s very own ‘Obadiah’ to procure it. This occurred after all the Tasting Room bottles had since been removed from Cadenhead’s and moved to Springbank, making this [perhaps] the last Tasting Room bottling [of this current era].

  • N: Creamy, agricole,… mezcal, pickled onions & blue cheese, kippers,… what on earth?,… heavily minerallic – gun metals – cotton thread,… and mostly notes I lack the experience to conjure. Becoming more ‘regular’ in time, further observations include [Mackey’s] balsamic salt n vinegar crisps, ginger cake, vino-soaked ripe apricots & sultanas, peach schnapps, liquid-peat pancakes? Overall then, weird in a good way,… eventually.
  • T: Being a big hitter, it’s also a little strange on the palate to say the least, with more of that kipper mezcal, malty-metal-y, sultana-ey, apricot frangipan-y action.
  • F: A direct flame-like heat sustains before, texturally, concluding towards a thick, even clogging waxy/beeswax-iness.
  • C: Remarkable and a little strange in equal measure. Now, how does one score this remarkably strange style?

Scores 86 well-earned points

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Two rounds of votes are in and we’ve a tie for first:

Remarkably, Springbank 12 CS didn’t even get out of the blocks tonight.

With huge thanks to Kenny & Wayne.

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END

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