Whisky Advent Calendar 2015: Day 19

19 12 2015

The last weekend of 2015 whisky writing is upon me.  I can smell the end of this December blogging marathon; it smells like scotch.  This is the fifth time in the past two years that I’ve opened a calendar door to see a black cardboard box wedged inside, which can mean only one thing:  a trip back to Campbeltown and its dominant Springbank distillery.  This time it’s the main label whisky as opposed to its sister labels, the triple-distilled Hazelburn (as seen in Day 13 this year and weirdly also in Day 13 last year) and the heavily peated Longrow (as seen in Day 20 last year, and with five more days to make an appearance this time around).  Last year the KWM Whisky Advent Calendar completed the triumvirate with the Springbank 10 Year on Day 18; this year we graduate to the Springbank 15 Year, the staple of the distillery’s core lineup, which runs for $112 at KWM.  Springbank distillery was established in 1828 on the site of an illicit still run by an Archibald Mitchell, and four generations later it remains run by Mitchell’s great great grandson, remaining in the family for close to 200 years.  100% of the whisky-making process for each label’s lineup occurs on site at Springbank, an extreme rarity in the scotch world.  The distillery’s website describes its 15 Year Single Malt in a way that requires remedial English lessons:  “Like a storm gathering off the Kintyre coast, our 15 year-old Springbank is dark and ominous, yet delicious.”  Um.  OK.  How is a gathering storm delicious??  Simile police APB – calling all units.  This sentence was a train wreck from about the third word in.

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Grammatical terror aside, this is a beautiful dram that should please all comers, regardless of their flavour preferences and sensibilities.  It is a rich amber, almost orange in colour, and (especially without water added) smells strongly sherried at first, salt and seashells and yeast added on top of leather, raw pumpkin and Elastoplast aromas.  A few drops of water bring out softer, more welcoming baking spice notes like brown sugar, gingerbread and clove.  Like a storm gathering off the Kintyre coast, this Springbank is concentrated and fiery on the palate, yet delicious, with a viscous mouthfeel and a lingering set of flavours crossing multiple taste groupings.  There’s a sweet honeyed wheatiness to it, like breakfast cereal, a hint of peaty mossiness and smoke, a touch of sherry nuttiness and brine, and a dollop of caramel and fig maturity, all in roughly equal proportions.  This is the Goldilocks whisky, likely to come across as just right to a host of different palates.  Clearly a way better metaphor than the storm thing.  Into the 20s tomorrow!

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