SPRINGBANK WHISKY SCHOOL
Today was the last full day of the whisky school and unfortunately, there weren’t any casks that needed sampling. There was a delivery of 75 ex-Tawney Port casks from Portugal though, which we helped get of the truck, unpack and move most to Warehouse 10. We were told some of these casks would be used for a future Tawney Port Longrow Red bottling, so I will keep a keen eye out for that since I was there when the casks were delivered.
We helped out again with the malting floor, this time using the turning machine to turn the malting barley which is akin to dragging an electric lawnmower (without any wheels) across the barley so spinning arms can flip it over as you go. We were also run through the milling and mashing processes again with an opportunity to see wash backs at various stages of fermentation. The minimum fermentation period for Springbank is about 72 hours, however, while we were there the mash tuns were working for about five days each to turn wort in to whisky wash for distilling. Nothing is rushed at Springbank.
The highlight of the day was a warehouse tasting with Findlay Ross, Director of Production for J&A Mitchell Ltd. Findlay met us at Warehouse 3 and we got to taste some very special drams including a 1998 Hazelburn first fill bourbon cask at 55.8%. This was not the same as the Hazelburn from the Director’s Cut tasting last week, but it was equally as good. Next up were the two very different Kilkerran casks, the oldest held at the distillery. The first was filled in April 2004 into a first fill rum cask for the first 10 years and refill bourbon for the last four years, currently at 55.6%. The second Kilkerran was filled in May 2004 into a first fill port cask where it aged for 10 years before being placed in a refill bourbon for the last four years where it is now 53.4%. These two Kilkerrans could not have tasted any more different.
Next was a refill sherry vatted cask of Springbank 25 year old which will be part of the next 25 year old bottling. Currently at 49.6% (vatted at 50%) after nearly a year, this whisky tasted about as amazing as you would expect it to. The last whisky straight from the cask was a Longrow Red New Zealand Pinot Noir, twice filled to extract as much from the red wine casks as possible and currently at 58.8% strength.
We finished the night with drinks at the Dellwood Hotel again, sharing some with our hosts Bruce and Tracy. The whole course was made to feel so welcome in this family owned and operated bed and breakfast; their daughter Hope even treated us to some live music of her own creation. We will all miss staying here and miss the friendliness and hospitality of the wonderful people of Campbeltown in general.
Tomorrow is the final day of the Springbank Whisky School and will include a walking tour of Campbeltown and the Glengyle distillery.
WHISKY SCHOOL STUDENT PROFILE
Jörg 55, Insurance Salesman, Germany
How did you get into whisky?
A couple of years ago I travelled to Edinburgh with my wife Isabelle. Those days I didn’t know much about whisky but Isabelle “forced” me to find out and pick some bottles to take back to Germany. When I stepped into the whisky store, a lovely employee showed me a flavour profile map and got me started with 4 bottles (5cl bottles, not 70cl!), one for each quadrant of the map. Isabelle and I continued this twice a day for 5 days, drinking 40 bottles during this time. This intensive whisky tasting “tour” marked the start of my journey into the world of whisky. We ended up only taking 4 bottles back to Germany but I have since built up a collection of nearly 300 bottles of whisky.
How did you hear about the Springbank Whisky School?
I’m a member of the Springbank Society and so I heard about the school and applied.
What is your favourite whisky?
Any Springbank, but specially the 14 YO Bourbon Wood.