Unfortunately, there is no Campbeltown Malts festival this year either, we all know why, but luckily J&A Mitchell & Company has arranged another great Open Week online, including some very nice tastings from Springbank, Kilkerran and Cadenhead. Of course, the accompanying festival bottlings could also not be missed.
However, it was not easy to get something from Springbank and Kilkerran, it was quite a hassle. It took me a lame finger from pressing the refresh button and a fair bit of luck, but in the end, I was able to buy some sample packs and the festival bottles. So I’m really happy with my loot. Of course, all bottles have been opened in the meantime and they will also be shared with a few friends who were less happy in their attempt to get one of these single malts. Sharing is caring my friends! 😉
Ok, let’s get to work! (Rolling up sleeves)
This Longrow has matured in fresh rum casks and is bottled at 50.5% ABV.
Longrow 17 year old tasting notes:
Nose: very rummy at first, and mixed with fresh citrus fruits. This is followed by honey. Subtle peat. Ripe bananas and pineapple. There’s a light farmyard smell as well. Vanilla. Later also minerals and chalk.
Taste: more peat than in the nose. Vanilla and bananas. Pineapple juice. It’s a little bit salty at some points. Which is quickly followed by minerals.
Finish: mid-long to long. Peat and sweet fried bananas. A pinch of salt and kiwi.
This heavily peated Kilkerran has matured in fresh Oloroso casks and is bottled at 58.2% ABV.
Kilkerran 05 year old tasting notes:
Nose: Red fruits combined with a milk chocolate note at first. Then the peat is coming through, which is quickly followed by smoked bacon. Minerals and chalk. Lemons too. Later also a farmyard note. Soy sauce too.
Taste: Kiwi, chalk and peat. A hint of red fruits again, which is followed by milk chocolate. A touch of grapefruit. Honey, but also soy sauce. A touch of oak and pepper.
Finish: mid-long with soy sauce. Kiwi and lemons. Milk chocolate and a little bit peat. Pepper and it’s slightly oaky.
This Hazelburn has matured in fresh Oloroso casks and is bottled at 54.9% ABV.
Hazelburn 15 year old tasting notes:
Nose: quite some chocolate at first. Some leathery notes. Dried fruit, with mostly raisins. But also blackberries. Then it goes towards honey and a hint of caramel. Followed by hazelnuts and lemons. Nougat here as well. Then oranges. And later also a farmyard note and Earl Grey tea.
Taste: Dark chocolate again, mixed with blackberries. Caramel. Tobacco leaves and a hint of leather. Followed by honey. Oranges. And in the end, some spices, such as black pepper, nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon. A touch of oak too.
Finish: mid-long to long with the same spices. A touch of oak and leather. Cacao and caramel. Slightly dry.
This Springbank has matured in refill bourbon for 6 years, followed by 2years in fresh Pedro Ximénez casks and is bottled at 56.5% ABV.
Springbank 08 year old tasting notes:
Nose: cacao powder. Leather and coffee. Dried fruits, such as raisins and sweet dates. Honey. Then I get a hint of oranges. Tobacco and diesel oil. A touch of old wood. Water: Blueberries and more oranges. Caramel, a farmyard note and black cherries.
Taste: Very sweet, a bit too much for me. Sweet raisins and dates. A touch of smoke. Balsamic vinegar. Earl Grey tea. Honey and dark chocolate. Ahorn syrup too. Then I get oak, which is followed by a bunch of spices, cinnamon and a touch of black pepper. Water: The spices move a bit more into the background and it becomes a bit more fruity. This is a little bit better. It also adds oranges and minerals.
Finish: short and dry and rather spicy and it’s a bit bitter. Black coffee and wood. Tobacco too.
Overall: Let’s start with the Longrow. I liked this one very much and it was one of my favourites. Not super complex, but it’s rather nice and packed with beautiful flavours. There are some lovely tropical flavours in this one, which work very well with the Longrow character.
I also enjoyed the heavily peated Kilkerran. It has such a lovely thick mouthfeel, something you might not expect from such a youngster. Quite straight forward, but simply delicious.
The Hazelburn has a very interesting and beautiful nose, every time I smell it, I pick up something else. The palate and finish are slightly less complex than the nose, but certainly just as tasteful. The Oloroso sherry casks are certainly present, but they work nicely with the Hazelburn spirit here. Really well done.
But then the Springbank… Although remnants of the Springbank character can still be found, the influence of the bourbon barrel has almost completely disappeared. The sherry cask is way too overpowering. No, this is definitely not my cup of tea. Too dry and a bit too bitter in the finish, too sweet at some points on the palate and too much influence of the PX sherry cask. Water makes it slightly better though.