Nearly two centuries ago, the town of Campbeltown, located on a narrow peninsula in southwest Scotland, was considered the whisky capital of the world. Passengers arriving by sea at Campbeltown Loch — nestled between Macringan's Point and the rocky island of Davaar — were greeted with the sails and masts of the herring fishing fleet and the smoking chimneys of nearly thirty different distilleries that called Campbeltown home. Two hundred years later, Campbeltown Loch is considerably quieter and only three chimneys continue to billow smoke — each acting as a beacon for an industry that, at one point, dominated the peninsula.
In 1828, Springbank Distillery was founded on the site of Archibald Mitchell's illicit still in Campbeltown. (Today, Mitchell's great-great-great-grandson owns the distillery.) Within ten years, its whisky was so well-regarded that a blender by the name of John Walker purchased 118 gallons of whisky from Springbank at 43 pence a gallon.
By the turn of the century — as worldwide demand for Scotch whisky seemed insatiable — distilleries throughout Scotland began cutting corners and outsourcing parts of the distillation process. Springbank Distillery, however, remained true to its Scottish heritage and today, remains one of only two distilleries in Scotland to perform every step of the whisky making process — from malting barley to bottling whisky — on the same premises.
After malting and lightly peating the barley (using locally cut peat), the distillers at Springbank mill and mash it in cast-iron mash tuns that are nearly a century old. The pure spring water used during the mashing process is sourced from Crosshill Loch, which in turn is fed by springs seeping from the northern slopes of 1,100-foot tall Beinn Ghuilean. After mashing the grains, the wash is slowly fermented over the course of 70 hours — one of the longest fermentation processes in Scotland — before being distilled. Because some of the wash is distilled twice and some is distilled three times, Springbank Whisky is said to be distilled two and a half times.
Following distillation, Springbank 15 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky was matured for 15 years in European oak casks that were previously used to mature sherry. The whisky has an aroma of dark chocolate, Christmas cake, almonds, toffee and oak. Notes of figs, marzipan, brazil nuts, raisins and nutmeg dominate the palate, and give way to a finish accented by touches of chewy leather, tobacco and oak.
Springbank 15 Year Old earned a score of 95 points from the Beverage Testing Institute, and a perfect score from Wine Enthusiast.
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92 (46% ABV)
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Aroma of dark chocolate, Christmas cake, almonds, toffee and oak. Notes of figs, marzipan, brazil nuts, raisins and nutmeg dominate the palate, and give way to a finish accented by touches of chewy leather, tobacco and oak.