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The Campbelltown style of (malt Scotch) whisky is one of the lesser known extant regional styles, represented today by Glen Scotia and one other, Springbank. Some, I included, think that Glen Scotia tends to represent the historic Campbelltown style better than Springbank (which is good but has its own particular, or "house" character in my view). Glen Scotia is a frankly briny, flavoursome whisky but is only mildly peated. Campbelltown is not an island but is a long peninsula and its climate and topography are generally like those of islands on its side of Scotland. Traditionally the whiskies were aged at the distilleries near the coast and like many of the Islay and some other island whiskies Glen Scotia absorbs much marine character. I sampled a 1992 cask-strength Glen Scotia at a Toronto restaurant that specialises in malts and was wowed by this whisky. (I did not get a clear view of the bottle but it appeared a distillery, not merchant's, offering). It had a soft toffee-like overlay which must be from a sherry cask and I would guess Oloroso. Under that was rich distillery-character with in turn a salty, fresh, briny mantling. The drink was at once stimulating, refreshing, and satisfying (I took it after a long walk in our winder cold). Sometimes you taste something and it has the stamp, "Amongst Scotland's Best". It isn't THE best whisky in Scotland, there are too many contenders to confer that honour here, but it is tops in its class. Probably 60 years ago many of the Campbelltowns that still existed (now as I say they are down to two only) were much like this except some probably were quite peated. While Islay's Laphroig has marine and peat notes, Campbelltown whisky probably had its own circle of differing tastes due to the peninsular microclimate and possibly certain shared production techniques. Glen Scotia, especially at full barrel strength, shows one set of these characteristics today to perfection.
Thanks Gary. I have always wondered about this malt, though I have been hesitant to pick up a bottle. It's not the darling of the press that Springbank is and though history on it is available, tasting and production notes are scarce.
I do believe that Glen Scotia is currently either owned or run by Springbank.
I found a short quote from Springbank's manager who confirmed your thoughts that Campbeltown whiskies were quite peated(and oily).
Maybe some vatting experiments could get some of that peat in there to replicate the older style:D
It's funny you say that Tim, I was thinking the same thing. :)
I might take some of that Caol Ila Chuck King likes (to me it tastes like cigarette ashes!) and add it to a glass of Glen Scotia. That might give us an idea of what a 1930's Campbelltown was like. In a late 1940's book on alcoholic drinks by an Australian chemist and bon vivant, he identified Campbelltown as if anything more intense in character than Islay whisky, so it must have been a big bruiser in its day. This author also almost casually gives the general plan for how blended whisky is made (a formula I have never read anywhere else). He said, take a few grain whiskies (anything from 40-60% of your total); make up the rest with half Highland whiskies, half Lowlands; and add a little Islay or Campbelltown to round it out.
So say today: use the superb Compass Box whisky that is all-grain for the base (I think it is the Eleuthra, and it will have the advantage of being carefully blended using 3 or 4 quality grain whiskies). For the rest, take equal amounts of Highlands and Lowlands (whatever you have but try for a balance of sherried and non-sherried tastes and have some attention to the ages, again for balance); and then add to your blending bottle a good splash of any characterful Islay, or the Glen Scotia if you can find it.
It won't be bad, believe me... :)
Another idea for Gazebo upcoming!
So say today: use the superb Compass Box whisky that is all-grain for the base (I think it is the Eleuthra, and it will have the advantage of being carefully blended using 3 or 4 quality grain whiskies).
FYI, the whisky you're looking for is Hedonism, a vatted grain whisky. I haven't seen it in LCBO stores in quite some time although I'm curious if it's still in the on-line inventory.
I might take some of that Caol Ila Chuck King likes (to me it tastes like cigarette ashes!) and add it to a glass of Glen Scotia.
I've had some really good Caol Ilas, but unfortunatly, they were all IBs. I've also heard some chatter about this on whiskymag.com, that IBs are more highly regarded than OBs as far as this paticular distillery offerings go.
Regarding LCBO stocks, Signatory usually has some reasonably priced ones floating around.
I just got a 1990 G&M bottling of Glen Scotia last leek. Your review gives me something to look forward too. AFAIK, the only current cask bottlings are a 1992 Signatory and 1992 G&M. There is a current OB 12year old that was just released.
The number of Campbeltown distilleries is up to three again: in 2000 the owners of Springbank began refurbishing the Glengyle distillery, which had been closed since the 50s. Distilling began in 2004, and the first product is expected to be ready around 2014. It will be sold under the brand name Kilkerran. Unclear whether and to what extent it will hearken back to a historic Campbeltown style; the stills are not the original Glengyle equipment.
There are a couple other Campbeltown whiskies---Longrow and Hazelburn---but they are distilled by Springbank. Longrow is made with peated malt, and Hazelburn is triple-distilled, in the Lowland style. If Campbeltown whiskies were traditionally peated, then possibly Longrow is indicative of what they used to be like. Last time I looked (not real recently, I'll admit) there were two varieties, one aged in bourbon barrels and one aged in sherry casks.
Hazelburn distilled 20 casks in 1997 for release in 2007. Hopefully, they will produce more sometime. There was a private bottling of 65 in 2003 for the staff and workers though if you have the need to find it now.
Glengyle was actually closed in 1925! and was used for storage while being left more or less intact. Even after 80 years it was easier to bring the old girl back to life then to build a new distillery. If you want some of the first release the 6 different casks types are £175 a bottle or all 6 for £950. I have a bourbon finish waiting.
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