Sunday, 26 January 2014

Robert Burns night 2014

Robert Burns' night, January 25, 2014.
Although about everywhere we looked there were a lot of very interesting nosings and tastings, we were housebound and decided to have our own nosing & tasting. Just the two of us, some whiskies, without the haggis, neeps and tatties.

Our choice fell on the Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn CV series - all three distilled at the Springbank distillery - one of only three remaining distilleries in Campbeltown, located on the peninsula roughly in between the islands of Arran and Islay in the Southwest of Scotland.

During our fist trip to Scotland in 2012, the very first distillery we visited was the Springbank distillery, one of the few true artisan / craft distilleries remaining, and possibly the last distillery that does everything - from malting and kilning all of their barley, to bottling and labeling - on-site.

On this site, they produce three types of whisky:
Springbank - two and a half times distilled using an intermediate still with a lightly peated barley.
Longrow - double distilled only using a heavily peated malt, aiming to create an Islay style malt. First distilled in the Springbank distillery in 1973, regularly created since 1992.
Hazelburn - triple distilled without the use of peat-dried barley and produced at the distillery since 1997.

Three distinctly different types of whisky, all using the same equipment but different ingredients, recipes and techniques.

The CV series is a special release of all three whiskies from the Springbank distillery. They have been comprised of cask types, including ex-Bourbon, ex-Sherry, ex-Rum and ex-Port casks - and different vintages and making them all None Age Statement whiskies.

Some say the abbreviation C.V. stands for Chairman's Vat, while others say it would be more logical to use Curriculum Vitae or Cuvee of Vintages. Personally I like to pitch in Campbeltown Vattings, just to make things more complex. Having asked at the distillery, their answer was inconclusive.

Springbank CV - Ansgar's tasting note: 
On the nose there is a combination of vinegar and caramel at first, almost a bit sulphurous. Sweet, vanilla, toffee and dried fruits come close after that. Lemon and bit coastal notes are lying underneath it all.
The palate brings smoke dryness but also sweetness are the first things that I notice here. It is sweet and has many fruity, some nuts, and dried fruits notes in it, but overall a bit dry mouthfeel. Maybe a bit cinnamon almost.
Middle length finish. This one has a high amount of notes of dark sugar, bit dark chocolate and liquorish, and sweet most of all in the finish.

Longrow CV - Ansgar's tasting note:
on the nose, there is smoke, grass, hay, salt, fennel, mineral, golden delicious apple (very ripe one), lemon notes, eucalyptus, fresh and sweet notes.
On the palate are pepper, sweet, dried apricots, dry smoke, honey, lemon, red chili pepper, sultana, vanilla, fresh, sweet, eucalyptus, and forest fruits.
a middle length finish, fresh and sweet. Full of dark forest fruit notes and vanilla. Leaves a dry bit smoky mouthfeel in the end. It is almost going to biting on a piece of wood after a bit...

Hazelburn CV - Thomas' tasting note:
The nose is rather sweet with lots of vanilla, fresh malted barley, a bit young and a hint of mushrooms.
Sweet, vanilla, a fat mouthfeel, fresh, medium dry, spicy white pepper, and a slight note of red or fortified wine on the palate.
The finish is overly sweet, from vanilla and is medium long

All in all we found the series a little disappointing. That is to say: we had expected more from it. In our eyes, the series would be a representation of what to expect from the whiskies produced at the Springbank distillery, but compared to some of the other (read: better) products we have come to taste over the years, this would not be the trigger to get us to try their products.

Since our visit of the distillery was our first distillery ever, we certainly will re-route our trip through Scotland once more towards Campbeltown and the Springbank distillery again, perhaps during Springbank Day, an event that conveniently takes place on the Thursday before Feis Ile, the malt and music event on the isle of Islay. Not forgetting to stay the night in the Ardshiel hotel, with their award winning whisky bar.

Cheers, Ansgar & Thomas.

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