Sunday, 15 July 2018

Campbeltown Festival 2018




Day 1, 23rd May

Springbank Society Tasting, 23.05.2018 11:00

Blind tasting, pick the best one to be bottled. Although at the end they admitted the chosen cask would be blended with two other casks!  So not sure what we really picked here.


1. n- Fresh, chalky wax, light mint. Slightly herbal, beautiful fresh vanilla. b- Clean, crushed barley and mineral. Ozone and slightly burnt sugar. f- Medium with royal icing and caraway. Clean and delicious drinker.

Guess 8yo Hazelburn, FB - A

2. n-Sweet and mineral, a little roast pork, some ghostly peat. Buttercream icing. b- Singed splints and a touch of gunpowder, fizzing refreshers. Quite light and slightly plastic. f- Long and hot with charred oak and pepper, very drying. Quite an austere whisky, a little hard going.

Guess 8yo Hazelburn, RB - B+

3. n- Fresh and complex, beautifully fruited and quite ancient peat. b- Clean fruit, a bit of dirty malt, quite cheesy, oddly rotten. Very hot with sulphur although not cabbagey. f- Long, fizzing and drying, quite a sulphur burnt note to it at the end. Challenging and quite hot but lots of fruit.

Guess 18yo Springbank, RS A⊖

4. n- Sweet, dirty like hot dogs and mustard, quite nutty like a wine cask with old library. Beautifully dusty. b- Nutty and dirty, definitely a refill wine cask. A touch of balsamic vinegar. Good menthol and a little clove. Old varnish. f- Very long, quite medicinal, flakes of coconut. Wonderfully weird and delicious, a particularly good nose.

Guess Springbank 12yo red wine cask - A⊕

5. n- Light, ethereal, good cask with melon, new inner tube and hints of germolene. b- Deliciously light and creamy with cloves, white gloss paint. f- Refreshers, cloves, lots of oils. Really complete, beautifully balanced.

Guess Longrow 18yo, FB - A⊕

6. n- Clean, bright, lemon fairy liquid - but no lack of depth. Lovely citrus woods, wood glue and lemon drizzle cake. b- Beautifully charred sugars and burnt hay, lemon shells. Very gentle and considered. f- Long and fresh, peppery with malt peat and sliced oranges. Delicious old Campbeltown

Guess Longrow 14yo, refill rum

I voted for #6.


IMG_5175Winner was number 4, my second choice.

  1. HB, Rum 12yo
  2. HB, Re-charred bourbon 10yo
  3. SB, Demerara rum, 14yo
  4. SB, Fresh port, 14yo
  5. LR, Fresh bourbon, 17yo
  6. LR, Re-charred sherry, 10yo

Springbank dinner, 19:00

As always three casks are rolled out, we taste them all and the winner is bottled for the attendees.  This year the focus was Longrow.


1. Longrow 2007 Sauternes, 57.8% A-

n- Balanced sugars and baked plums, brown sugar. Nose improves with time. b- Rich and very ripe, black grape skin, quite charred. f- Burnt caramel, charred oak, black pepper. Good but very sweet and tiring in the end.



2. Longrow 2004 rum, 54.7% A⊕

n- Clean but rummy, stewed apples, cigar tobacco and candy cigarettes. b- Beautifully fresh with green apple, cough candy and liquorice. f- Long and astringent, cloves and menthol again. Delicious and bracingly fresh, loads of character.

3. Longrow 2000, Oloroso, 47.5% A+

n- dark and brooding, dusty with crushed mineral, cask car, birthday candles and ripe red apples. b- Clean and lightly medicinal, almost refreshing with Swiss throat lozenges, blackberries and cut flower stalks. f- Bracingly bitter but peppery. A robust but charming component of standard LR18. Very good.

I voted for 2, the crowd, of course, picked 3.

Day 2, 24th May

Springbank Warehouse Tasting


Hazelburn 20 years old, 18th July 1997, 55.8% A⊕+

IMG_5203Oldest cask of HB, tasted the last two years

n- Deep, fruity cake, strawberries and cream, stewed raisins and apples. Incredibly fruity. b- perfectly balanced, light, fresh and fruity. Quite a lot of cereal and gunpowder too. f- Great structure, perfect woods, kola kubes and toast and honey.

Kilkerran 10 years fresh port, 4 years in bourbon, 14 years old, 53.4% A⊕

Originally part of the set of different casks, the remnants of which we've tasted the last two years at the festival also.

n- Fruit and nut chocolate bar, cut hedge, dusty woods and liquorice imps. b- toasty but very complex, more herbal with custard tarts and dandelion stalks. f- long and bracingly bitter, melon and dried fruit at the end.

Kilkerran 10 years rum cask, 4 years in bourbon. A⊕

IMG_5204Filled immediately after the port cask and part of that same set originally.

n- light but lots of wax, the same herbal freshness, dunnage. b- Deliciously creamy, vanilla icing and sweet pastry case. b- Rum tannins, cracked black pepper.

Springbank 23 years old, 50% A⊕+'

3 years in fresh sherry. Vatted for the cask strength but headed now for the 25 year old.

n- Deep and dirty, fresh oils and liquorice torpedoes. Dried orange and sangria. b- Dirty and sour, but extremely fresh with apple puree and oranges. Caramelised orange peel. f- delicious and complete, but really drying with loads of oranges at the end. A stunningly citrus, very dirty take on a big Springbank. Epic.

Longrow red 10 years old, 7 years in refill bourbon then in refill port. 59% A+

IMG_5205n- dry but creamy, fence panels, burnt toast with apricot jam. b- Sweet, blackcurrant, gunpowder. f- vanilla buttercream, loads of black pepper.

Springbank 25 years old, <50% A⊕+

Coming October.

n- Deep and dark with subdued blackcurrants, blackberry compote, rhubarb fool. b- perfect balance of dusty peat, orchard fruit, peppery wood and milk bottle sweets. f- perfectly poised. Perfect drinking whisky.

The Directors Cut tasting.

"The good the bad and the ugly" - Ranald Watson, Mark Watts, Findlay Ross.


Findlay Ross - top right. Hazelburn from the warehouse tasting, notes above.

Mark Watt - top middle.

Macallan 1989, 29 years old, 43% A⊕

n- Sweet, sugary with extreme fruit and dusty mangoes, warm cereal. Very old and very bourbon Mac. b- Creamy, waxy but very rich with orange oils and orange curd. Chalky. f- Long and drying with dried apricot and charred plum skins.

Just like that last SMWS Macallan - chalky, fruity and cereal, very delicious.

Ranald - top left.

Springbank refill Oloroso, 1990 Dec 20th, 27 years old, 45.7%

Oldest cask owned by the distillery although not the oldest stored there, there are a couple of 1989 casks.

n- Light and mineral, but creamy and ripe with baked apple and light engine oil. Musky and muscular, life affirming and delicious. b- Gentle gun oil and cracked black pepper, grilled pineapple and rosemary. f- Dry and oaked but fresh and tannic. Extremely long with wood and fruit.

A completely delicious, dry and elegant whisky. The nose has the sugar from the sherry cask, the delivery all dry and nutty. Very special. It is earmarked for a planned launch of a 30 year old Springbank in a couple of years.


Ranald 2, bottom left

Springbank 22nd July 1991, refill oloroso cask 232, 26 years old, 48.7% A⊕+'

n- Immense. Beautifully lacquered with acrylic paint, sealing wax and almonds. Old oak beams and leather jacket. Just a touch of stables/horse blanket. b- crisp and fruity but biscuity and floral. Liquorice roots and all-sorts. f- extremely long, with toffee and light engine oil.

Even more beautiful than the 27 year old, utterly delicious.

Mark Watt 2, bottom middle.

Cadenhead's Kilkerran 11 years old, full sherry butt, 26th April 2007 A+

First ever indie Kilkerran (except the warehouse casks we had last year). Just announced for "Summer batch 2"

n- Dark and nutty, earth and olives. b- oil paints and charcoal , blackberries. f- long with dark fruits.

Findlay bottom right

Longrow 1994, refill bourbon. Oldest Longrow owned by the distillery. A⊕+

n- Dry, dusty lavender, salty and highly medical. Refreshers and bidis. Hot salt. b- Bandages, cloves and aniseed. Ripe with lots of toffee. Complete. f- tabasco, cardamom and cloves,

Magical and extremely odd.

Springbank New and Forthcoming releases

Ronan Currie


1. Hazelburn open day 2018, 10 years old, Marsala cask 59.6% A+

n- Sweet black fruit, Vimto and newly planed oak. 'Fizzing'. b- Dark; sweet and fizzy, clean but hot. f- Blackcurrant jam, black tea, robustly fruited. Really drinkable.

2. Hazelburn oloroso - already tasted.

3. Springbank 21yo May 2018 - already tasted.

4. Springbank 12yo CS, 57.5% A+

This is a cask from the upcoming batch in August (following one will be in February 2019)

n- dirty and sulphurous, puddle water. Stewed fruits and brown sugar. b- Balanced but nutty and dirty. Sweet pudding. f- Medium with cherry compote. Very sweet, almost cloying.

The final vatting is 70% sherry 30% bourbon

5. Longrow 16 years old A⊕

Just released, but not at the time of tasting.

n-Sweet white wine and leatherette, crushed Alka-Seltzer and fizzers. b- alien, rotting apples, Haribo. f- More Alka, parma violets, mango. Meaty burps.

Delicious and weird.

6. Longrow open day, 15 years old refill port, 58.7% A+'

n- dirty red wine, bandages, blackberry tea. Fresh marijuana, blackcurrant fool. b- Dirty wine cask, really intensely fruited with cigar tobacco. Touch of sulphur. f- Medium, cake, chocolate frosting, petrol.


Day 3, 25th May

Friday 10:00am - Cadenhead's Warehouse Tour


Aultmore 21 years old, 53.2% A+

n- Bright lacquered fruits, sawdust, royal icing. b- Dirty and hot (but it is 10am), robust structure but lovely orange zest. f- Grapefruit peel and fizzing vitamin C tablets,

Really delicious citrus drinker.

Strathclyde 1989, 57.2% A+

n- Almond biscuit, beautifully warm woods, really balanced and very full. b- Fresh apple, toffee and cut oak planks. Hazelnuts. f- Short, fresh with numbing wood oils. A touch butyric (although, the hour). Peppery.

A delicious, robust but wonderfully fruited grain. I don't buy many grains but I did go for this one.


Highland Park 25yo, A⊕

n- Big, tropical and creamy. Very sweet but balanced and appealing. b- Quite hot just behind sweetshop fruits, bitter peat and robust woods. f- Oily, very drying, quite long and bitter.

Deliciously fruity but very robust. Tropical burps but who knows where they're from.

Paul John, 5 years in Goa, 1 in Campbeltown, 56.7% A+'

n- dried fruit cake with rum, sweet with sour wine and burning fence panel. b- Very sweet, sour and overripe. Gloss paint, a touch of horse manure. f- Very long and cakey. Surprisingly ripe and delicious drinking.

Springbank 14 years old, rum barrel, 57% A⊕

n- Musky, sweet, restrained, soft wax. TCP and earth. Better with water, deeper. b- Delicious Springbank oils, really dusty and bright. f- Long and utterly delicious, dusty, oily and drying at the end.

Caroni rum 19 years old, 66.5%

n- Glace cherry, dry but massively fruited. Petrol and sealing wax. b- Bright and really challenging with Swarfega, caraway and aniseed. f- Fruity, tropical, very bitter, very dirty.

Cadenhead's Masterclass, 13:15


Macduff 29 years old, refill sherry butt, 55.1% A⊕

This is from the June SB outturn

n- soft fruit, stewed strawberry, whipped cream. b- Orange slices, black pepper, iron filings. Grapefruit juice and stewed tea with water. f- Medium with hard oak and liquorice imps. Delicious but robust citrus pith.

North British 32 years old, refill sherry butt, 55.2% A

n- Warm with vanilla sponge, buttercream icing and a bright, green, confident wood. b- restrained sherry, a little raisin. Very sweet though and slightly rummy. f- Dry, quite bitter with lemon sherbets and liquorice imps.

Bright but warm easy drinking grain - a Summer crusher.


Glenturret 31 years old, 44.5% (yes this is cask strength) A⊕

This is from the June SB outturn, which I have just written up and I didn't like this whisky half as much!

n- Brightly sweet, lovely old cask with pink wafer biscuits, toffee apples, flat cola and old wood varnish. Pretty epic. b- reduced red wine, rum and raisin ice cream, floor polish. Great fruit structure balance. f- Milk chocolate and instant coffee. Really soft and gentle though, certainly not a sherry bomb. Really drinkable old Scotch.

English Whisky company, 8 years old, 61.9% A+

Also just announced for Summer batch 2. Peated.

n- Bright and young, like a young Caol Ila. Biscuity malt, quite hard oak, dirty cereal and black pepper. b- beautifully balanced orchard fruit and a quite intense peat. Royal icing and musky honey. f- Long, quite hot and heavily peated.

Another really excellent English Whisky, as HQ as a young CI but a more biscuity, phenolic character. The honey is really pronounced here.

Aberfeldy 22 years old, 55.2% A⊕

This one was Jenna's choice and available to buy by the bottle along with Cameron's choice below. Mark said good luck trying to flip an Aberfeldy but I've always liked them, I bought a couple.

n- Bright and deep lacquered fruit, coffee and very HQ cask. This is proper visitor's centre whisky. b- Perfectly creamy with Nice biscuits and Portuguese custard tarts. f- Long and perfectly balanced, fruity to the end.

Just a delicious drinking whisky, a cork chucker.

Bowmore 17 years old, 54.2% A⊕

Cameron's choice.

n- Much bigger, a dirty complexity in the nose, with cut flower stalks, pot pourri, pop tarts. Wonderful. b- Dusty, creamy and sweet, with carrot cake and blackcurrant jam. f- Long and brightly peated, charred lemon shells.

A really perfect nose and a little ordinary in the delivery.


  1. "Macduff 29 years old, refill sherry butt, 55.1% A⊕

    This is from the June SB outturn"

    It was actually from the May Authentic release.

    What the deuce is Swarfega?

    1. It is a dark green, gelatinous, thixotropic substance used to clean grease, oil, printer's ink, or general persistent, hydrophobic dirt from the skin.