Springbank distillery

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Springbank
Logo springbank.png
Region: Campbeltown
OwnerJ&A Mitchell & Company
Founded1828
StatusOperational
Water sourceCrosshill Loch
No. of stills1 wash
2 spirit
Capacity750,000 litres yearly[1]
Springbank
Age(s)10-year-old
12-year-old (cask strength)
15-year-old
18-year-old
21-year-old
Cask type(s)Bourbon
Sherry
Wine
Rum
Calvados
Longrow
Age(s)NAS
18-year-old
Cask type(s)Bourbon
Sherry
Wine
Hazelburn
Age(s)10-year-old
Cask type(s)Bourbon
Sherry
Wine

The Springbank distillery is a family-owned single malt whisky distillery on the Kintyre Peninsula in western Scotland. It is owned by J & A Mitchell & Company, which also owns the Glengyle distillery, the oldest independent bottler, William Cadenheads, and several blended scotch labels.[2] Licensed in 1828, Springbank is one of the last surviving producers of single malt whiskies in Campbeltown, an area that once had over thirty active distilleries.[3] The distillery produces three types of Peated and unpeated malt whisky that it bottles under three distinct brands.[4] The majority of its distillate is bottled as a single malt, with a small percentage sold to larger blenders or ending up in one of J&A Mitchell's own blended scotch labels, such as Campbeltown Loch.[5]

History[edit]

Springbank was established by the Reid Brothers in 1828. The Reid Brothers sold the distillery in 1837, to John and William Mitchell. Later the son of John Mitchell joined the business which became J&A Mitchell.

The partnership of John and William Mitchell was dissolved in 1872[6] when John Mitchell bought the distillery for £5,055[7] (equivalent to £461,400 in 2020),[8] and William Mitchell built the Glengyle distillery.

In December 1883 a storm hit Campbeltown which resulted in the collapse of the distillery chimneys.[9] Further damage occurred during a storm in 1904 when part of the tun room roof was torn off.[10]

After shutting down temporarily in 1926 due to the effects of the Prohibition in the United States the distillery began operating once more in 1936.[11]

The distillery closed down in 1979 due to the poor state of the UK economy, and reopened in 1989. In 1993 it was revealed that Springbank was the supplier of miniature whisky bottles which were being retailed at Balmoral Castle.[12]

The company distilled its Hazelburn brand for the first time in 1997.

Malt variants[edit]

Longrow 10-year-old
Hazelburn 8-year-old

Springbank produces three variants from its distillery by tweaking the production process at various stages. None of the malts produced at this distillery is chill-filtered, and they do not contain colorants, such as caramel E150.[13]

  • Hazelburn Single Malt, the newest variety, was first distilled in 1997 and since bottled as a 10-year-old. In 2009 a 12-year-old variety was released. Hazelburn is a triple-distilled, non-peated whisky. Hazelburn is also named after a mothballed distillery near the Springbank one.[4]
  • Longrow Single Malt is a highly peated, double-distilled whisky, named after a mothballed distillery of the same name.[4] The standard bottling bears no age statement, with age-statement-bearing editions experimenting with different casks such as tokaji and Barolo. The Red edition (released annually) uses a different type of wine cask each year such as Pinot noir, Malbec, and Port. Longrow won Best Campbeltown Single Malt at the 2013 World Whiskies Awards.[14]
  • Springbank Single Malt is available as a 10-year-old,[15] medium-peated and distilled two and a half times. A cask-strength 12-year-old bottling[16] which is released annually and is slightly different each year, as well as 15-year,[17] 18-year,[18] and 21-year olds making up the core lines.

Production[edit]

The malting floor
The washbacks

Springbank is the only Scottish distillery to perform every step in the whisky-making process, from Malting the barley to bottling the spirit.[19] Several distilleries malt some percentage of their barley and source the balance from an industrial malting facility, such as Port Ellen; however, Springbank maintains a traditional malting floor that provides for 100% of their distillate.

Springbank then dries its barley using peat sourced from Islay for various lengths of time (30 to 48 hours) to imbue different levels of the smoky flavour associated with Scottish whisky.[5][13]

  • Hazelburn receives 30 hours of hot air
  • Longrow receives 48 hours of peat smoke
  • Springbank receives 6 hours of peat smoke and 30 hours of hot air

Once dried, the barley is ground into grist, mixed with warm water in a cast iron open-top mash tun to extract the barley sugars.

The wort is then cooled and pumped into six boatskin larch washbacks to ferment for 72-110 hours and produce what's now called 'wash'.[5] This long fermentation period allows for the formation of esters that shape the fruity secondary characteristics that help make the identity of the final product.[20] The alcoholic wash goes on to the stills for the distillation phase.

Springbank uses three copper pot stills (one using direct-fire, the other two using steam) used in various combinations to produce its malts: Hazelburn (unpeated) is triple-distilled to produce a lighter, higher ABV end product of 74-76% ABV.[19][5] The medium-peated Springbank is two and a half times distilled: during the distillation process some of the low wines are collected before the second distillation, and then mixed back into the feints for another distillation. This means that some parts of the spirit have been through the stills twice and some parts three times; hence, the "half" distillation. The amount of spirit that goes through the "half" time is judged by the stillman as the process takes place to ensure consistency.[5] It emerged at around 71-72% ABV. The heavily peated Longrow is double-distilled leaving a heavier, smoky distillate that leaves the still at 68% ABV.[19] The distillery employs traditional worm-tub condensers, which limit copper contact and make for a richer, oilier spirit.

The spirit is then aged primarily in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, although Springbank experiments with a wide range of casks to produce secondary characteristics that accent its house style.[19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Springbank Whisky - Buy Springbank Whiskies Online - Master of Malt". Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  2. ^ "J&A Mitchell & Company | Scotch Whisky". scotchwhisky.com. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  3. ^ "Place". www.springbankwhisky.com. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Springbank Whisky - Master of Malt". www.masterofmalt.com. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Springbank". The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  6. ^ "No. 8324". The Edinburgh Gazette. 29 November 1872. p. 856.
  7. ^ "Springbank Distillery Campbeltown". Dundee Courier. Scotland. 28 November 1872. Retrieved 23 October 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  8. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  9. ^ "Things Notable". Alliance News. England. 22 December 1883. Retrieved 23 October 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  10. ^ "West of Scotland". Edinburgh Evening News. Scotland. 7 April 1904. Retrieved 23 October 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  11. ^ "More Work for Campbeltown". The Scotsman. Scotland. 27 December 1935. Retrieved 23 October 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  12. ^ "Dram Fine". Aberdeen Evening Express. Scotland. 31 July 1993. Retrieved 23 October 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  13. ^ a b "Process". www.springbankwhisky.com. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Longrow wins Best Campbeltown Single Malt award". Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  15. ^ "Springbank 10 Year Old - 70cl 46%". The Really Good Whisky Company. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  16. ^ "Springbank 12 Year Old Cask Strength - 70cl 55.4%". The Really Good Whisky Company. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  17. ^ "Springbank 15 Year Old - 70cl 46%". The Really Good Whisky Company. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  18. ^ "Springbank 18 Year Old - 70cl 46%". The Really Good Whisky Company. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  19. ^ a b c d "Springbank | Scotch Whisky". scotchwhisky.com. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  20. ^ "Springbank Distillery". Flaviar. Retrieved 29 July 2017.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Springbank distillery at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 55°25′31.5″N 5°36′31.9″W / 55.425417°N 5.608861°W / 55.425417; -5.608861