If it says Cadenhead, Campbeltown, Springbank, or in any way references the goings-on around the Kintyre peninsula, you know it’s bound to be stirring the masses a bit. The zombie-like singular focus on all things Springbank has hit fever pitch in the whisky community and, if I didn’t love the stuff so much myself, I’d have been at the jumping-off point about two years ago. But, of course, that’s like quitting after you’ve been fired, if you get my drift.
Truth-telling: when I was last in the Cadenhead warehouses for a cask tasting, I can’t lie, it was a pretty underwhelming experience with some pretty mediocre whiskies.* So, the question is, was there enough solid stock in those dusty ol’ halls to put together a rock star blend? Only one way to find out. Let’s see what Hedley and co. are offering up this time ’round…
You can expect a dirty old-school-styled blend in some ways, but with a slightly modern dressing. It seems to be pretty heavy on malt and has a rather lumbering sherry influence. Makes sense as, after blending, this was finished in Oloroso. And I think we can acknowledge that the Springbank family has a pretty identifiable style of sherry casking. If Gordon & MacPhail has the coursers in sherry casks, then the J&A Mitchell & Company certainly have the Clydesdales.
*But trust me, the whiskies we had in the Springbank warehouses (or on the Springbank tour, anyway) more than made up for it.
Nose: Funky, waxy, deep and dirty, Cold coffee grounds in an old filter. Definitely a bit of that dunnage-y, earthy Campbeltown character. Slightly smoky (oh, so faint). Figs and candied nuts (sounds almost Dickensian, doesn’t it?). Almonds. Biscuits. Baked, spiced apple. Mulling spices and boiling raisins. Wet lumber. Noses like a malt, to be honest.
Palate: A lot of dried fruits. Some overripe cherry and that rather new-ish style of dumpy, heavy (and oh, so cocoa-powder-dry), nutty sherry (anyone else miss the tropical old jammy sherry of old?) So this is a blend, is it? Really? First sips don’t really suggest that. Notes of gingerbread and boozy tiramisu, doused in over-oxidized Oloroso. Some more raisins. Ok…a bit of grainy silkiness peeking through now. Neat, but heavy.
Finish: Long and deep. Expected nothing less. Apple peelings. Slight touch of maraschino. A bit grippy.
Thoughts: I’m rather keen on this one. And the packaging too. Smartly, wickedly retro.