Monday, August 13, 2007
Campbeltown Loch 15 yo
Blended Scotch Whisky
The story of the disappearance of some 32 distilleries in Campbeltown is both sad and instructive. At the beginning of the last century, Campbeltown was the whisky capital of Scotland. By 1925 only two distilleries remained. Exactly why is complicated and open to debate, but it has much to do changes in methods of transport, the Great war, the depression, prohibition in the U.S., but also with the worsening reputation of Campbeltown malts in the eyes of blenders (poorer distilleries were filling to exhausted casks and speeding up distillations during the boom of the 1890s and the tough economic times during the war and the 1920s). With the opening of Glengyle in 2004, there are currently three working distilleries in Cambeltown. This week we will try a few drops from the distilleries of the Mull of Kintyre. For more Campbeltown info see David Stirk's book The Distilleries of Campbeltown.
William Cadenheads is the Scotland's oldest independent bottler on the market and started business in 1842 in Aberdeen. Originally famed for their excellent Demerara rums, Cadenheads is legendary for bottling excellent single cask, cask-strength, non-chill-filtered whiskies. Cadenheads was taken under the umbrella of J&A Mitchell and Springbank Dilstillers Ltd. in 1969 and operates out of three very adorable shops in the UK: Campbeltown in Scotland, Covent Garden in London and on the Canongate (the bit of the Royal Mile nearer the palace than the castle) in Edinburgh. They also have shops in Cologne and Amsterdam.
Named after the lake that is dreamed to be full of whisky in the song of the same name, Campbeltown Loch has been a J.A. Mitchell family blend for decades. The critically acclaimed Campbeltown Loch 25yo was replaced in recent years by the 21yo and this 15yo is the new member of the family and was released at the same time as the new 1997 vintage Springbank.
Enjoyed with Colin Harvey whose notes appear in quotes. Rest assured it has been enjoyed a few times since; the lovely guy left the bottle here...but not until after he had made the rounds on our shelf. Cheers, Colin.
Health club, hazelnuts, chlorine and perfumed shower soap. "Nut oil, lanolin, woolly." Cheroots. "Huh?" Little earthy, bark-y cigars. Shortbread. Spicy and herbal. Prawns. Wisp of smoke, even slightly sulphuric. Time in the glass lets this stuff open up its ever-developing nose.
Outdoors sweetness, earthy, slightly metallic fishing tackle and worms. Toasty bourbon cask rolls around in the mouth. "Toast proper, as in out of the toaster... having scraped off the black bits". "Maritime creaminess... That sounds stragely filthy" Crab meat. Short.
The black label is a brilliant choice. Looks very cool. Largely consistent between nose and palate, but seems to fall just short of impressive. Hey, this is totally tasty, rich whisky, with a great malt character that absolutely schools the grain, but I guess it is the memory of the 21 (or 25... mmm) that haunts every impression. Tough competition. Thoroughly enjoyable and good value.
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