When in Campbeltown you have to visit Cadenhead’s. Especially since Mark Watt took over they’ve quickly become one of the, if not the, best bottler I know. However, when at Cadenhead’s, you’re technically also at Springbank. And, maybe coincidentally, that happens to be one of my very favorite distilleries.
Apart from their older expressions quickly reaching a price point at which I can no longer afford them, I more or less love all their expressions to some degree.
So, when I was at Cadenhead’s and had just emptied my body of all spare organs I needed to sell to afford everything I wanted, I remembered ‘the cage’. The cage in which they sell some 1-of-1 bottlings of Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn. Maybe there’s Kilkerran too, but I’ve not seen it.
I picked these two, based on age and cask types used. A port cask and a sherry cask. Both types of cask that work well with Springbank’s products, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, they didn’t last long after selling some samples (at some point you do need a kidney, so I held on to the second one). The last bits I reviewed last week.
Springbank 12, Fresh Sherry Hogshead, Rotation 265, 59.2%
Lots of oak, sherry, leather and shoe polish. Dark chocolate, dried plums and sour cherries. Toasted rye bread. Very dark, roasty and gorgeous.
Not as strong as I’d expect. Lots of sherry and fruit. Oak, some almonds and walnuts. Plums, cherries, chocolate and espresso.
Long on the finish, and more mellow suddenly. Fruity, with lots of leather and fruit.
Springbank 14, Fresh Port Hogshead, Rotation 392, 58.2%
Pretty heavy on the Port, but also with the known and loved Springbank funkiness. A whiff of diesel and engine grease, but with some old oak and stewed red fruits.
Pretty sharp, but rich too. Port, and port casks. Earthy, dark and big in flavor. Slightly smoky and funky. Mushrooms, wet cellars and mold.
The finish quickly mellows, but stays on track with the same flavors as before. A bit more earthy, maybe, and some notes of flint.
As you might have concluded, correctly, these are tremendous whiskies. I absolutely loved them to bits. They are both intense and funky, just like you love Springbank in its teens.
I hope to go back there in February when I’m doing a tiny Scotland trip with my mate JP, and must remember to not blow my dough before I get there. In this case that might be a bit easier since it’s only Arran before Campbeltown, and not the entirety of Islay.