31 May 2017

25/05/2017 Campbeltown Festival 2017 (Day 2 -- Part 3) Springbank Warehouse Tasting

Back from the Auchroisk tasting, MS and I take the Glengyle tour. It is a small group and a jolly time, even though the distillery is not operating, at the moment (only six weeks per year, when Springbank is silent).
Our guide explains that one of the washbacks was recently changed, following the previous one's rotting. It had been left wet for too long.
I am reminded that Kilkerran (the name Glengyle belongs to another company, and bottling the whisky under that name is not allowed) is distilled with the old Ben Wyvis stills, from the Invergordon plant. I am secretly looking forward to pairing Kilkerran with Ben Wyvis and see the difference.

The highlight of the visit, however, are the swallows, nesting in the loft. They are obviously a little distraught with our presence and fly in and out of the building, and chirp at us nervously. Nature at its finest.

After that, we meet the French contingent of the day and a couple of French-speaking Swiss (including pat gva).

We have a tasting to attend, however. A Springbank warehouse tasting, with Findlay Ross. The crowd is rather inebriated, at this stage. It does not detract from the fun, but makes it occasionally difficult to be served.

Hazelburn d.1998 (56.5%, Cask Sample, First-Fill Bourbon Barrel, C#214): nose: lots of caramel, vanilla -- the Bourbon cask speaks loudly, here. Toffee, butterscotch. Mouth: a bit shaky, with Bourbon influence, but also green chilli and a bit too much spice. Chocolate-milk tones save it. Finish: big, toffee-like, with butterscotch and boiling custard. Decent, if drying. 6/10

Springbank (unknown ABV, Cask Sample, First-Fill Rum Cask, re-racked into Refill Bourbon): we are told this is next year's Springbank 21yo. I fail to note the ABV, or the distillation date. Nose: dust, rancio, maybe ground peach stone and maybe a whiff of smoke. Mouth: grape juice, white wine, sweet white wine, to be accurate (sweet Riesling), white rum. Finish: ample and round, with nuts, berries and hazelnut shells. 7/10

Kilkerran (unknown ABV, Cask Sample, Port Cask, re-racked into Refill Bourbon Barrel, C#14/353): I fail to note the ABV and distillation date here too. Nose: meow. This is a mushroom cave, with nail varnish and lots of wood. I find it more interesting than the previous two. Mouth: syrupy, sweet, with maple syrup and a clear Port influence. Finish: long, sweet, syrupy, it has cough syrup and maple-syrup biscuits. Brilliant. 8/10

Kilkerran 13yo d.2004 (56.6%, Cask Sample, Fresh Rum Barrel, C#14/382-1): the inside of a greenhouse in the summer, as well as more mushrooms. Mouth: corn syrup, Dr. Pepper -- this is almost sickly sweet. Finish: slightly dryer, fortunately, very influenced by the rum -- sweet and syrupy with a bite 7/10

Longrow Red 13yo (unknown ABV, Cask Sample, ex-Cadus Valli Malbec Cask, C#15/379/226): nose: red grape dominates, loudly and clearly, then earth. This has a deadly French-terroir feel. Mouth: sweet and generous, wine-y, devoid of smoke, just like the Sauternes cask, earlier today. Finish: long, warming, with a rich red-wine influence again; dark Cabernet grapes. It is a bit drying, even without the smokiness. I need water. 7/10

Springbank (unknown ABV, Cask Sample, C#17/116/235): Ross tells us this one is to become next year's Springbank 25yo. Nose: very woody, with pencil shavings and wax. Mouth: viscous, powerful, with a smoky tone, an animal note, yet it stays sweet enough. Finish: a wonderful depth; this is rummy, wine-y, but also rich and ample, with hazelnut paste and cranberry sauce. 7/10

JS joins me in the warehouse, while I talk to Findlay. Then we meet up with the French and the Swiss (pat gva, RX21, islay whisky, Forrest, stf92, Bishlouk, who is neither French, nor Swiss, and a couple of others). I pour them my Auchroisk 27yo Cadenhead Club bottling, which seems to go down well. another glass makes its way to me: Springbank 35yo 1968/2003 (46%, BBr Berrys' Own Selection). It is... decent, shall we say. :-)

MS, JS and I must leave, though: we have an appointment with the Swissky Mafia for supper at the Royal Hotel.
CD giving his best EG impression
There, we are joined by EC's stag do (they are not at our table). CD candidly inquires why they finish their dessert before we receive our starters, even though they came in 15 minutes after we did. I fear the waiter takes it in a way that CD did not intend, yet the candour amuses me greatly. We soon get our food and are more than happy with it: the legendary haggis nachos for sharing, soup of the moment (!)  for me (cauliflower and cheese), then duo of duck. The boys all have a burger; JS has a salad.

Haggis nachos
Soup of the moment
Mango chicken salad
Duo of duck

The neutrals challenge me to finish their chips (neither they nor MS has touched them, shamefully enough). Of course, being from the land of chips, I take the challenge, which turns out to be quite a stupid idea. Two thirds in, I give in to JS's trying to discourage me and decide it would not be wise. No dessert necessary, then.

And now, for dessert...

We will not, however, part without having had a dram or two. We do not think it appropriate to do so in the restaurant and look for a bench in the harbour instead. Conveniently, we can sit on the edge of the embankment. We quickly produce glasses and I start pouring -- I take no notes. We have:

Glen Scotia 17yo (40%, OB, L4/332/97 402) (me)
Bunnahabhain 26yo 1989/2016 (45.9%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 246b) (me)
Springbank 34yo 1967/2001  (40.9%, Hart Brothers Finest Collection) (CD)
Springbank 20yo 1968/1989 (50%, Samaroli Ageing Monography, 660b) (CD)
Macallan 25yo 1962/1987 The Anniversary Malt (43%, OB imported by Giovinetti) (CD)

I wanted to pour something else, but that Samaroli Springbank messed up the order I had in mind. Instead I pour the following. CD has a sister cask, which we will have on the back of mine.

Springbank 20yo b.2017 (59.9%, OB for the Bottling Hall Dinner 2017) (me)
Springbank 20yo (unknown ABV, OB) (CD)

Fantastic evening. I never had a Springbank 1968 before, then much like London busses, two came along at the same time. We all agree that, once again, life does not suck, right now.

Campbeltown Loch
I wish you were Springbank 1968
Campbeltown Loch, och-aye
Campbeltown Loch
I wish you were Springbank 1968
I would drink you dry
We will discover tomorrow that drinking alcohol in public places is prohibited. Note taken for the future. I understand why such a byelaw is in place, but regret that the actions of some spoil the fun for all the others. Few things make life as good as having a dram under the Scottish sky.

Day three this way.

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