A fine night hosted by Andy Dunn, of Gold Medal Marketing. Andy is a truly engaging speaker. His sharp wit and caustic humor helped set the tone for another great night at Willow Park. It is somehow liberating to throw out the pretention every now and then and listen to a great presenter who is casual enough to toss out the occasional insult…catch one in return…be a little naughty…and occasionally dip into the spicier side of our vocabularies.
The malty spread this eve consisted of bottlings from Tullibardine and Springbank. Tullibardine is a single malt Highland whisky, first distilled in 1949. The history of the region and the distillery is fascinating, and Andy’s brief aside detailing the history of Blackford was entertaining and enlightening (go…do your research). The distillery was mothballed in 1994, lying dormant until 2003 when it, and its entire stock of whisky, were purchased by the present consortium, and once again the uisge beatha flowed.
Andy trotted out a young Tullibardine Aged Oak first. Light and dusty…citrusy and herbal…dry and oaky. Meh. Not bad by any means, but a tad underwhelming.
Next up was a 14 y.o. Tullibardine Moscatel. More of a craft presentation than the first we tried. 46% and non-chill-filtered. Still fairly light. I picked up raw grains, freshly cut hay, fruit and chocolate. This had an interesting pink hue to it. Maybe just the lighting in there…maybe one too many whiskies…or maybe that actually was the color.
From here we moved onto the Springbank line. Though I enjoyed the Tullibardines, this was much more to my liking. Springbank is one of only three operational distilleries in Cambeltown. A shame really, as Cambeltown was once home to more than 30 legal distilleries. Springbank relies heavily on tradition and human involvement in all stages of production. The whiskies are distinct, colorful and craft-presented (no chill-filtration, no coloring, higher abv, etc), which of course is appreciated.
First up…Springbank CV. Lots of smoke and fire (almost kerosene-like), some peat and spice, a touch of sherry and a dash of salt. Decent marks for this one.
Next up…Springbank 18. Nice…very nice. Beautiful on the nose, with notes of cream and caramel, light fruits and hot spice. Even a few drops of water did not mellow this one too much. The price point is high, but the product is very good.
Springbank 12 Cask Strength. Now we’re talking. 54.6% abv. Well done, Springbank, for allowing us the opportunity to decide how strong we like our dram. This was a solid number full of salt, sherry, smoke and raisin, some pepper and a smoked meat quality to it. Rich and rewarding.
Finally Andy brought out the big guns. Springbank Claret Finish (12 year, I believe). Wow. Another beefcake bottled at 54.4%. This deep mahogany whisky was full of rich caramel toffee, vanilla, smoke, apple, spice and peppers, and had a wonderful oily viscosity to it. Simply amazing.
Look for some more detailed reviews in the days to come.
Thanks, David and Andy, for another great tasting.