Bought: Cadenhead, 5th December 2017
88.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2018
87.85/100 – Whiskybase (average from 89 member votes)
In 2015 I contacted Springbank distillery about paying £50 to become a life member of their ‘Springbank Society’. I’d get a badge, t-shirt and an opportunity to buy two special bottles per year, exclusive to society members. In the end I didn’t join because the online forum for Springbank members disappeared and the distillery was having a website meltdown. They make great whisky but my confidence in their Internet ability was in tatters. Since then I can’t say I’ve seen a ‘society only’ bottle of Springbank appear at auction so I’ve no idea if they got produced.
The basic Springbank 10yo and the cask strength 12yo are so good it’s taken me 5 years on my whisky journey before getting the 15yo. Clearly I didn’t need any ‘special releases’ for society members because the standard releases are more than enough for me. I decided to get the 15yo because several people on whisky forums said it was their favourite dram and I hadn’t bought a Springbank for a while. With a score of nearly 88/100 on Whiskybase this is clearly a fantastic 15yo. Comments include “very tasty” and “a big whisky with big flavours”. Other remarks online include “top of the line if you like sherry matured” and “refined and full of Campbeltown character”. What more can you ask for?
Jim Murray’s score of 88.5/100 in his Whisky Bible dates back to 2012 so you can take that with a pinch of salt. A review on Whiskybase says this latest version (tasted in 2018) is better than a previous version they tried a few years ago so perhaps Mr Murray would score it in the 90s now.
Tasting notes from Master of Malt:
Nose: Fragrant with a certain richness. Notes of fruit salad and a hint of caramel, pineapple, guava and passion fruit lurk. There are notes of dried leather and old ropes. A hint of toffee sweetness and some granary toast.
Palate: Quite full and rich. There are notes of creamy fruit salad and more exotic fruit notes. There is palpable mastication from the oaked tannins with a hint of spice.
Finish: Fairly long with a gentle warmth.
Here’s Horst & Benedikt Luening of Whisky.com with their thoughts about the Springbank 15yo on YouTube (May 2017):
Bought: Whisky Galore, 23rd May 2016
85.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
88/100 – Ralfy (of www.ralfy.com. His review below)
83/100 – Whiskybase (average from 14 member votes)
Hazelburn is a brand of whisky by Springbank distillery that’s unpeated and triple-distilled. It first appeared in 2005 as an 8-year-old but there are now 71 different versions listed on Whiskybase. The majority (55) have been released by the distillery. Scoring 83/100 is a respectable mark with one reviewer saying “good whisky”. Others remark “a lively, rich and full-bodied whisky with an impressive balance of sweet, fruity and spicy flavours” and “interesting, engaging and complex. It has a lovely balance and nice sherry cask influences” (regarding the full 70cl – mine is 20cl).
85.5/100 from Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible classifies this Hazelburn 12yo as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”. He says about the taste “at times nutty. At others, oily. And is that the vaguest hint of phenol I spot bouncing around at one stage?” And summarises with “some lovely moments of lucidity but at most part it’s an interrupted work in progress.”
Although on the surface the Hazelburn 12yo scores well it seems that most reviewers have one or two issues with it. 88/100 is an excellent score from Ralfy. Here’s his review of the Hazelburn 12yo on You Tube (January 2011):
Bought: Whisky Galore, 23rd May 2016
82/100 – Whiskybase (average from 9 member votes)
This NAS (non-aged statement) bottle of Longrow first came out in 2012 and there are now 13 different versions of it listed on Whiskybase. My 20cl came as part of a Springbank distillery set of three 20cl bottles, which also included the Hazelburn 12yo and Springbank 10yo. I already have a similar set that Springbank did of their ‘CV’ range. A 20cl bottle is a nice size to give you a proper taste of a whisky whilst keeping the cost down and not outstaying its welcome.
82/100 on Whiskybase for this peated Springbank is a reasonable score but the main 70cl version scores nearly 84/100. It’s effectively the same stuff and it’s in the range of ‘very good’ in terms of Whiskybase ranking. The CV, also NAS, seems to be a step up with a score of 85.5/100 but the path ultimately leads to the Longrow 18yo, which scores 88.5/100.
Here is ‘Scotch 4 Dummies’ review on You Tube (March 2016):
Posted in Longrow, Springbank
Tagged 20cl, 46%, Campbeltown, Green Welly Stop, Longrow, NAS, Peated, Single Malt, Springbank, Whisky Galore
Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 16th December 2015
86/100 – Whiskybase (average from 2 member votes)
83/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 5 maniac votes)
Longrow is the name given to one of the three single malt variants produced by the Campbeltown distillery Springbank. On the distillery website they say, and I quote “first distilled in 1973, Longrow is the result of an experiment carried out by our chairman, who set out to prove that an Islay style single malt could be produced on the mainland. Today, our heavily peated, wonderfully smoky whisky is available in three bottlings – Peated, Red and 18yo.”
A favourite dram of mine is the Springbank 10yo and I love Islay whisky so it’s a mystery to me that I’ve never tried a Longrow. Why?! Simple because there are so many whiskies to choose from but I will have to make an exception for Longrow and try it soon. It sounds like it has the makings of something quite special. Voters on Whiskybase and Malt Maniacs clearly think this particular example is an excellent one.
My miniature of Longrow by Signatory was in an auction with 4 other miniatures but I did my research and discovered an identical bottle had sold on its own for £7.25 in May 2015. Incredibly another bottle had sold for a staggering £39.50 in February 2014. It goes to show that not every whisky has been shooting up in value in the last few years. Some may have already peaked. In the current market I doubt this miniature would be worth more than £10 but it only takes two Longrow lovers at an auction to send the price sky-high.
Bought: Abbey Whisky, 28th October 2015
90.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
89/100 – Ralfy of www.ralfy.com
87.07/100 – Whiskybase (average from 43 member votes)
Good review after good review after good review and I got the Springbank 18yo because it’s purple. The box and label that is, not the whisky. Well I do love purple! But seriously, I’m a big fan of the Springbank 10yo and after getting the 12yo ‘cask strength’ the natural progression is to add the 18yo. Scoring 90.5/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this dram as ‘brilliant’ and the author, Jim Murray, says of the taste “yummy, mouthwatering barley and green banana. Fresh with excellent light acacia honey”. He summarises with “just one so-so butt away from bliss”. Spank that naughty butt! Thankfully it was only a minor blip in Mr Murray’s enjoyment.
87/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic score with one voter saying they prefer this version of the 18yo to the one with the old label. They summarise with “a very accessible Springbank. Good stuff.”
For an expert overview, here’s the legendary Ralfy discussing the Springbank 18yo, which he scores 89/100 (from October 2014):
Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 2nd September 2014
92/100 – Ralfy – Springbank 12yo, Batch 7 – YouTube (April 2014)
90/100 – Ralfy – Springbank 12yo, Batch 9 – YouTube (September 2014)
If you ever try and find out information on a bottle of whisky that’s 20 or 30 years old, good luck! Even the information out on the internet for recent whisky releases can be inconsistent, patchy, or nonexistent. Your best bet is post a question in a whisky forum where true knowledge and experience can be found. I bought this Springbank 12yo as Batch 5 but there’s nothing on the bottle or box that says which batch it is. Based on its strength (53.1%) Master of Malt also used to sell this as Batch 5 but, Whiskybase say it’s Batch 6. I found a bottle being sold on Amazon with 50.3% in the title, 52.3% on the bottle in the picture and 53.1% in the technical details. No mention of the batch anywhere. It was quite hilarious but that’s Amazon for you!
Whichever batch I have, the bottom line is the whisky is phenomenal. As soon as I watched Ralfy’s review for Batch 7, the Springbank 12yo went on my shopping list. If you like the 10yo like I do, then this 12yo ‘cask strength’ release of Springbank has everything required to blow your mind. Well, perhaps not as amazing as that but I’ve yet to see a bad review for any of the 12yo batches. I got Batch 5 instead of 7 because a) it was on sale and b) I’m hoping Batch 7 will still be available next year when I’m able to buy it again. I foresee Springbank becoming one of my regular drams.
Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 2nd September 2014
89.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
86/100 – Ralfy, of http://www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Springbank 10yo – YouTube (January 2011)
Although Ralfy’s review is nearly 4 years old, one thing Springbank distillery is renowned for is consistency. I’d never tasted Springbank until July this year when I was in a whisky bar in Aberdeen. I’d just had a Balvenie 15yo Single Cask, which was OK but not as good as I’d heard. I then had a dram of the Springbank 10yo, and …WOW! It made the Balvenie taste thin in comparison. But, in fairness to the Balvenie, I don’t know how long the bottle had been open, or if I got the right amount of water, and I definitely didn’t wait very long before drinking it. One thing I’m learning as I gain more whisky experience is never to dismiss a whisky after one tasting. There are so many factors that can be tweaked, it sometimes takes several tastings to find the right harmonious balance of elements to make a whisky shine. Perhaps I drowned the Balvenie, or didn’t give it long enough to open up, but everything fell into place for the Springbank. More by luck than judgement.
Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, rates the Springbank 10yo as ‘very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying’ and half a point away from being ‘brilliant’. His final remark about this malt “keeps the taste buds on full alert” was exactly how I felt. It’s a complex and interesting dram that shows a combination of youth and experience, with a lovely full flavour. I’m definitely a Springbank convert!
Bought as part of the ‘Campbeltown CV Collection’ (3 x 20cl bottles) along with the Hazelburn and Longrow CV, Drink Supermarket, 4th September 2013.
81.78/100 – Whiskybase (average from 11 member votes)
I thought I’d take this chance to include a link to Ralfy’s video where he creates his own whisky by combining Springbank, Hazelburn and Longrow. Since all 3 are from the same distillery this kept the resulting mix as a ‘single malt’. My brother and I ended up having a debate about this, which only goes to show that even two Scotsmen aren’t exactly clear on what constitutes a ‘single’ malt.
Here’s Ralfy’s interesting video: Bankrowburn
Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday with his review of the Springbank CV (Jan 2015):
Bought – Drink Supermarket, 4th September 2013, as part of the Campbeltown CV set (3 x 20cl) along with Hazelburn and Springbank CV.
91/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
86.18/100 – Whiskybase (average from 13 member votes)
As part of my latest whisky addiction I got a copy of Ian Buxton’s book “101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die” and in it was the Longrow CV (p145 if you have a copy). I then read that it had been discontinued, so panic set in. A whisky that I’d vaguely heard of in June was now my ‘malts most wanted’ No.1 priority! But, being on a budget, and of the mind “why get one for the same price as 3!” I jumped at the chance of getting this Longrow along with a Hazelburn and Springbank. Unfortunately the Springbank in the 101 book is the 10yo, not the CV, so I was unable to kill two birds with one stone. As yet I’ve not heard that the Springbank 10yo is going to be discontinued but we could start the rumour now! There shouldn’t be any rush to get it…..or is there?!
Oh, for those of you like me who weren’t sure what the ‘CV’ stands for in connection to a whisky it’s ‘curriculum vita’ (seems obvious now…doesn’t it?!). This might be why the Longrow has been discontinued, because it presented its CV to another distillery and got a job elsewhere. Springbank and Hazelburn made the shortlist but failed the ‘walk a straight line’ test.
Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday with his review of the Longrow CV (Jan 2015):
Bought as part of the ‘Campbeltown CV Collection’ (3 x 20cl bottles) along with the Springbank and Longrow CV, Drink Supermarket, 4th September 2013.
78.92/100 – Whiskybase (average from 27 member votes)
Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday with his review of the Hazelburn CV (Jan 2015):