Springbank: 10 Year (Scotland Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky:10 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain gold.

Viscosity: Quite fast mixed thick streaks.

Nose: Mud, grass and slightly oily. Peat. Dried beef, or maybe cured ham actually. Sulphur – egg. Lightens with water.

Body: Oak. Syrup. Malt loaf. Light custard. Dried beef jerky. Peat. Tiny touch of salt.  Milk chocolate. Very potent. Oily. Grassy. Water makes grassier and more open. Adds slight raisins but apart from that doesn’t alter the flavours much.

Finish: Smoke. Dry. Touch of salted beef.  Touch of bitter chocolate. Lightly grassy. Black cherry hints. Water makes more chocolate and grass but doesn’t hide the smoke. Slight plum and spice comes out here.

Conclusion:  My old friend. Springbank 10. How has it taken so long for me to get around to doing a review of it? Ok, yes that pretty much gives away that this is going to be a positive review doesn’t it?

Well frankly that fits the whisky. From the first you can tell it is going to be good. A grassy dry character with peat and sulphur. Lots of hints of what would usually be Island or Islay characteristics balanced with nuance and care. These normally challenging characteristic show themselves in a restrained yet highly aromatic front that give a hint of what is to come.

The body comes in forcefully. Dried beef and lets loose with all the elements the nose promised. Sweet syrup and chocolate touches mesh with the massive front of those aroma promised characteristics and lead into a smoke finish.  There is a distinct grassy style that I would normally associate with lighter whiskys rather than this booming beast.

Sweet and smoky, grassy and peaty. Oily into a dry finish. It is a juggling act of flavours. In fact it is odd that adding water does so little to expand it. Possibly it’s because it managed to present so much already up front. Water adds  a touch of spice and dark fruit while quelling the fire somewhat, but generally the water just allows the main characteristics to roam better.

It is a challenging whisky, and thus not for all. It is not challenging like the heavier Islays where one or two elements are pushed to the extreme. It is however forthright, robust and thick textured and while restrained more than Islay it does not compromise on the depth of the peat and smoke flavour.

All in all an old favourite of great depth and intensity.

Background: Campbeltown. I first encountered the name when reading  Aeneas Macdonald’s book “Whisky” in which he described the Campbeltowns as “The double basses of the whisky orchestra”. So as soon as I could I hunted down a bottle of Campbeltown  whisky to try. I sometimes wondered what would have happened if I had found Glen Scotia first, but thankfully I did not, I found Springbank and thus a love of the region was born.  There are very few Distilleries in the area now. Glen Scotia, and Springbank who turn out Springbank Hazelburn and Longrow. Springbank also own the third distillery of the area who make the new Kilkerran whisky.  This particular bottle was a luck find, It was at a local supermarket for a ridiculously low price. When I asked why it turns out it was an end of line bottle that they had to get rid of, so despite being perfectly fine spirit, they sold for a knock down price. I of course bought it. While drinking this I listened to the album “The Silent Enigma” by Anathema. It seemed somehow appropriate.