Tag Archive: Campbeltown


Hazleburn CV

Hazelburn CV (Scottish Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky: No age statement: 46%)

Visual: Banana gold.

Viscosity: Very slow puckering.

Nose: Stewed banana. Grain fields. Honey. Some alcohol prickle. Water emphasizes grain fields and brings out lime.

Body: Banana. Honey. Lime. Very smooth texture. Some alcohol feel. Moderate oak and charring. Custard. Much more honeyed with water. Light grassy character. Beef slices at back.

Finish: Lime. Digestives. Alcohol feel. Custard. Honey comes out with water along with some milky chocolate Light beef crisps and beef slices. Grassy. Toffee. Paprika.

Conclusion: So, Springbank without the peat? How does that work? Very smoothly as it turns out. The texture is light and slick, there is some alcohol presence but it is easy dimmed with but a little water. The flavours are very smooth and sweet with lots of honey and a touch of custard. Simply relaxing.

What is interesting is that it turns out that not all of that Springbank character comes from the peat, with water there is a similar grassiness and dried beef notes here as in Springbank. The beef especially is a note I would normally associate with the peat, yet they are here, lightly but present. They are welcome small backing notes to the soothing spirit.

The aroma does suffer a bit on this one, very light and doesn’t give you much to draw you in. However the body does give plenty to compensate for that. Finally the finish smoothes out into milky chocolate and honey, still keeping that grassy touch which makes for a good capstone.

It isn’t the most complex spirit, but is far from dull. For my money I prefer the extra weight the Springbank expression brings over this ones easy sipping character, but it is a matter of taste and this one does do what it does well.

An easygoing introduction to Campbeltown.

Background: I’ve finally reviewed the holy triumvate of Springbank. Longrow – their heavily peated whisky, Springbank – their standard expression, and this, the unpeated triple distilled edition. Since there are only three meaning distilleries within Campbeltown it is a triumvate within a triumvate. Which probably has some weird mystical importance. Anyway, I am a big fan of the distillery, so was good to grab a measure of this. Again I seem to have blurred the photo for this. I have less than leet skills here.

Glen Scotia 21 Year

Duncan Taylor: Glen Scotia 21 Year: Dimensions (Scottish Campbeltown Single Malt Single Cask Whisky: 21 Year: 52.8% ABV)

Visual: Dark bronzed colour.

Viscosity: Very slow, very thin streaks.

Nose: Butterscotch. Very light peppermint. Madeira cake. Plums. Toffee. Water adds sulphur and earthy touch. Orange liquore.

Body: Waxy. Very strong alcohol with a burning feel. Raisins. Spice. Red wine. Water soothes to Madeira, touch of gingerbread. Rich raisins and orange.

Finish: Mint leaves. Alcohol burn and burnt brown sugar. Treacle toffee. Warming. Tarry and sulphur touched when water is added. Sweet orange comes out.

Conclusion: Glen Scotia has always had a distinct feel to it, texture wise. Well, by always I mean the one other expression of it I have encountered, it still counts. This one pushes it even further with a very waxy, very thick and slightly oily mouth feel. The alcohol is very strong, even with water, and without it can easily numb the tongue. Furthermore it throws a sulphur and slightly earthy touch into the mix, making it distinct before you even get onto the main flavour elements.

You need to give this one some time to get the best out of it, let it stand still for a while, let a few drops of water help. Once you have given it time to rest the thick texture starts becoming useful, bringing out dark fruits, orange liquore and sweet wine. The time lets it seem smooth rather than burning, but without losing that oiliness.

The texture actually reminds me of Ben Nevis in texture, the only other whisky that has seemed so waxy. This however plays a very different flavour range, the sweetness is thick and slightly treacle like, there’s spice and gingerbread behind making it feel like the dark fruits have been soaked in strong spirits.

Of the five rare whisky’s had tonight this probably is the least distinctive for flavour, it seems like a polished whisky while the others feel quite unique, however it does have that texture I keep mentioning to make it stand out. I would say it is very competent, but not special, despite its immense rarity, and that I still don’t quite get along with the Glen Scotia style, though that may change with an expression in the future.

Overall it is enjoyable, complex and very thick. I am glad to have tried it, if for the opportunity to say I have if nothing else, but for the price it is merely very competent rather than a true gem.

Background: This was drunk at the amazing Independent Spirit Rare Whisky event at Circo. When they say rare they mean rare. This is one of only 66 casks in the world. (From cask 710394 – a quarter cask). We had five whiskys that night, with other guests, my friend Matt, and Chris from Independent spirits all giving their thoughts. Since I know how easy it is to get psychosomatic flavours after someone else mentions them consider the above a view of the general opinion on the whisky so I can call it a feature rather than a bug. Due to the nature of the event my notes were somewhat haphazard, but hopefully I’ve managed to put them together into something readable.

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.

Springbank 15

Springbank 15 Year (Campbeltown Scottish Single Malt Whisky:15 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Dark bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Quite a few thick streaks, moderate speed.

Nose: Madeira. Raisins. Grassy. Caramel. Light smoke and a touch of salt. Brown sugar. Peat. Stewed fruit. Water adds vanilla notes.

Body: Smooth. Stewed apricot. Vanilla. Madeira soaked raisins. Grassy. Light oak. Water adds toffee and more vanilla. Light spice. Light cherries and treacle.

Finish: Light oak. Grassy. Smoke. Water adds raisins, Madeira and brandy cream.

Conclusion: Why, hello again Springbank 15, a full measure this time you say? A full double in fact for delectation? Oh my.

With more time to examine this whisky, I find it to be a real full bodied feast, yet you still have that native grassy Springbank character. What comes out more, however, is deep stewed fruit and Madeira notes – you get a huge chunk of dark fruit complexity, and slow subtle layers of spirit and wine influence. It all combines to crate an appropriately timed Christmas feeling delight of a whisky. Everything that was hinted at in the tiny sample I had before is now magnified at least tenfold.

You have but to breath open mouthed over the glass to get vanilla toffee and brandy cream rising up. You have but to sip to add peat and grass to that, a lovely mix of slid base and sweet ageing.

This the slightly salted and smoked whisky that manages simultaneously to be a Christmas pudding accompaniment to said whisky. An absolutely lovely, rich, layered and complex whisky. A brilliant dram to let slip back and warm you with strength and flavour.

Background: I have previously reviewed this at a whisky show (Original review left below) – however as a Christmas gift my parents gave me a miniature which gave me a chance to give it a proper going over, so I decided to do a full review. Hope you enjoy.

Springbank 15 Year (Campbeltown Scottish Single Malt Whisky:15 Years: 46% ABV)

(Note: Due to being tried at the whisky show, these were smaller measures done in a packed and friendly social environment, so are not as full notes as normal, however the chance to tasting note such a range of high quality whiskies was not to be missed)

Visual: Light clear gold.
Viscosity: A few thick slow trails.

Nose: Light peat and smoke with grass blended in. Quite meaty and almost chewable. Field and hay touches, rounded off with full oak and a touch of old books.

Body: Surprisingly sweet with a touch of honey mixing with the lightly done peat. Then smoke and syrup intertwined. Roast beef again and a slight salt touch.

Finish: Grassy, with a touch of charring. Light grain into growing peat and then smoke mixes in alongside bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: A smooth extension of the already complex Springbank style. The main body is similar done to its younger cousin, but smoothes out remarkably.  This is most notable in the delicious chocolate finish that adds a remarkable bitter touch which complements the smoother main body.  I always liked the grassy, yet balanced peat and salt from the Springbanks and this places a decent richness on top. I have the feeling I’m going to have to get a full bottle at some point to give it a proper range of experimenting.

Glen Scotia 12 (Scottish Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky: 12 years: 40% ABV)

Visual: Moderate burnished orange.

Viscosity: A mix of fast and medium trails of moderate thickness.

Nose: Light grassy, syrup and planed wood. The lightest touch of smoke. Quite easy going. Airy grain stores and fresh glazed pastries. Smoothes to a more floral bouquets with water. – Crushed petals.

Body: Sweet, grassy. Much sweeter with water when vanilla and toffee comes out. Even more water replaces that with custard sweetness.

Finish: Light charred oak, crushed leaves and slight menthol. Grain. Water brings out tree bark, malt drink and fudge.

Conclusion: Aha, finally, the last Campbeltown distillery I had yet to try, and a surprisingly simple bodied one. A light grassy sweet thing without a huge range to its name.

Not the best Campbeltown then, initially too simple but water does give it some legs.

With water the whisky expands in the nose and finish, with the finish especially benefiting with contrasting bark and fudge elements.

The body also expands its sweet range, just not to the same extent. Though the contrast with the grassiness becomes more obvious and brings interest to the sipping. One to two teaspoons really does the trick and brings the whisky to where it should be.

Oddly then a whisky you wish for the end of, well the end of each sip so to enjoy the floating flavours, not the end of the dram.

J & A Mitchells: Longrow: Gaja Barolo Cask (Scottish Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky: 7 Years Old: 55.8%ABV)

Visual: Thick gold.

Viscosity: A smattering of middling streaks form after a few moments.

Nose: Vanilla and spice, light pencil shavings. Rounded oak and a hint of peat. The peat becomes more distinct with water and adds slight grassiness and honeycomb.

Body: Smooth, rich blackcherry and peat. Sweet syrup, a tender meat texture like aged beef. Raspberry. Water ands toffee and raisins.

Finish: More peat, sherried raisins. Steak. Alcohol burn becomes noticeable here. Water adds a malts element to the air and light chocolate.

Conclusion: Possibly one of the greatest whiskys I’ve tasted, and intense yet balanced mix of peat, spice and fruit. It is wonderful neat, and can open up magnificently with water.

This whisky perfectly marries many distinct elements, and despite its youth it gives amazing quality to each element. A true treat like a high class dessert, a steak dinner and fine wine all rolled into one.

So yeah, give it a try.

Kilkerran Work In Progress (Scottish Whisky: Campbeltown: No age statement: Single Malt: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light pale straw.

Viscosity: Slow to form, thick but not too slow trails.

Nose: Grassy and salty; rockiness. Just a hint of peat, airy attics. Tiny amount of fruit cake and floral touches.

Becomes much lighter with just a little water and some vanilla comes out.

Body: Surprisingly sweet, languid salt moments. Thick syrupy feel on the tongue. Bitter harsh wood core and a touch of golden syrup.

A grassiness becomes obvious when water is added as the harsh elements are reduced.

Finish: Sweet and grassy at first, then harsh wood, salt and nettles.

Conclusion: A powerful young whisky with grassy and floral elements matched by salt and peat.

Campbeltown always seems to touch on the full range of Scottish whisky in each glass and this whisky is no different.

Whilst it shows its youth and expands little with water this is still a tasty dram.

Not the best of the area you will get for its price but if you are interested in seeing an early interpretation of the newest Campbeltown distillery then that will make it worthwhile.

If not then the Springbank 10 is a better bet for pure quality Campbeltown whisky.

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