Showing posts with label Ian Macleod. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ian Macleod. Show all posts

Springbank 37 Years (Chieftain's) Review

“Liquid Oak”

Whisky Review # 634

Country: Scotland
Region: Campbeltown
Brand: Springbank
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 37 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Most likely Bourbon casks.
Chill Filtration: No  
Price Range: 950-1000 US Dollars for similar bottlings. (August 2017)
Buying Advice: 😐Neutral. Nice Malt. Very Expensive. Lots of Oak.

Colour: Dark Gold (Natural Colour)

Nose: I'm quite excited because this Springbank is the oldest Whisky I have tasted so far and probably also the most expensive. Be sure to give it sufficient air time in the glass. Okay, here we go! The first thing I notice is the Oak. I have no idea whatsoever in what type of casks this Springbank matured but based on the Colour and the Aromas I'm pretty sure they were Bourbon casks. The Oak is very present and one can argue that the Malt could - and perhaps should have been bottled a few years earlier. Together with the Oak arrive some Varnish, Tobacco and Old Leather aromas. Dusty Books overlooked for years in a slightly damp cellar. The second wave of Aromas can best be described as a Tropical Fruit salad served with Fresh Cream, Honey and a warm Vanilla sauce. I recognise Papaya, Melon, Apple, Pear, Banana, Mango, Peach and Kiwi. You can spend an hour on the Nose and that's exactly what I did. Every five minutes or so a new Aroma pops up. You must find your way around the ever present Oak though. I also find Buttered Toast, Toasted Grain, Caramel, Toffee, Coffee flavoured Dark Chocolate, Dirt Road, Wax, Orange Peel, Floral Soap, light Spices like Pepper, Ginger and Cinnamon and the faintest whiff of Smoke. It's a full and rich Nose and there's a lot to discover. I miss balance though as the Oak is too overwhelming.

Visit May 2017

Palate: Bitter-Sweet, slightly Sour, Mineral and Spicy with Toasted Barley, Toast and Orange Marmalade, Honey, Vanilla, Lemon and Grapefruit Juice, Varnish, Charred Oak, Floral Soap, Herbal Tea, Wet Cardboard, Orange Peel, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Tobacco, Wax, faint Smoke, Dirt Road and Menthol. I miss the tropical Fruits from the Nose!  

Finish: Quite Long and Spicy! Sweet at first but with a little Bitterness towards  the very dry end. Charred Oak and Varnish flavours remain in your throat for quite some time actually. I also find Red Wine, Tannins, Orange Liqueur, Wax, Vanilla, Toffee, Honey, Dirt Road, Lemon/Grapefruit Juice, Ginger, Pepper, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Tobacco, Herbal Tea, Floral Soap and Menthol. The dryness makes you eager to have another sip!  

Drinking Advice:
I added a few drops of Water and the Wood retreats somewhat and makes place for Fruit and Malt. The Finish becomes quite Short and lifeless though. I have read all recent articles that state that Water usually improves Whisky but I am one of those Rebels that doesn't necessarily agree with that. You might pick up a couple of extra aromas and flavours but you also change the character of the Spirit. If you really like Fruit liqueurs, by all means add Water to your Whisky. Personally I almost always prefer the original character of the Spirit unless we are talking about a Cask Strength Whisky with a very high ABV. And still...! It just proves that the way you prefer to drink your Whisky is very personal.   

Rating: 88

Nose: 22.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 22 - Overall: 22

Similar Bottle!

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery, The Bottler and Today's Whisky:

The Springbank distillery was founded in 1828 in Campbeltown and is owned by the Mitchell family since 1837. In the past, Campbeltown was home to over 30 distilleries but only Springbank and Glen Scotia have survived. The Springbank distillery produces three whiskies. The lightly peated Springbank that is distilled two and a half times, the heavily peated Longrow that is distilled twice and the unpeated Hazelburn that is distilled three times. Springbank is a very traditional  distillery and the whole Whisky making process is done at their premises. That includes malting 100% of the Barley. Because of this, Springbank became a sort of cult distillery with many loyal fans. Prices increased accordingly during the last 10 years. We visited the distillery in May this year and absolutely loved it! It's like going back in time. I can fully recommend a visit!

Ian Macleod and Co. Ltd, Broxburn, Scotland was founded in 1833 by Leonard J. Russell Senior and has remained in the Russell family ever since. The current managing director is Leonard Russell. During the years the company bought a number of Whisky, Rum and Gin brands and started a bottling operation in a joint-venture with J & G Grant. The name changed to Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd with the acquisition of the Glengoyne distillery in 2003. In 2011, the company also bought the Tamdhu distillery.

A number of Springbank 37 Years were released in the Ian Macleod's Chieftain's series in the period 2005-2008. They were bottled with ABV's ranging from 40% to Cask Strength. The miniature I'm tasting today was bottled at 46%. It does not carry any information but based on the above it must have been distilled in the late 1960's or early 1970's.

Visit May 2017
🍷  The Spirit 

Springbank operates 1 Wash still and a pair of Spirit stills. Their Lyne arms are slightly pointing downwards and produce a medium-bodied, Sweet, Spicy and Oily spirit. The water is sourced from the Crosshills Loch.

Visit May 2017

🌲  The Wood:

The distillery uses lots of Ex-Sherry casks for their Springbank expression but in this case I believe that the Chieftain's 37 Years matured in a mix of first-fill and second-fill Bourbon casks.

Drinking Experience: Good


Was I expecting too much? Probably. It's of course not every day that you try a Single Malt that was distilled when you were around 18 years of age. Thirty-Seven years is a long time in a cask however, even for the strong and Oily Springbank Spirit. Too long in my opinion. The Wood simply overwhelms the other Aromas and Flavours of which there are enough to be found when Nosing and Tasting this Springbank. As a result, the Springbank 37 Y is a nice Single Malt but it misses balance. The nice Fruit on the Nose never gets a chance on the Palate and in the Finish. I am also a bit puzzled by the ABV of 46%. Let's assume the Spirit entered the cask with 70% although it's usually around 63%. The Angel's Share amounts to roughly 2% per year. Even if we only consider 1% per year, we would end up with an ABV of 33%. So either the Spirit entered the cask with a considerable higher ABV or the Angel's Share was quite a bit lower than 2% per year. Anybody that can shine a light on this matter is kindly requested to leave a comment. Considering all the above I was slightly disappointed by this 37 year old Springbank. I really like the Fruit on the Nose despite the Oak but on the Palate and in the Finish that same Oak is really overwhelming. I was fortunate to have bought this miniature in The Netherlands in 2014 as part of a small Ian Macleod introduction set. Because I would never spend a 1000 US Dollars or so on a bottle of whisky. Not even on a 37 Year old!

Jan van den Ende                                                                   August 21, 2017

Visit May 2017

Six Isles Review

“Affordable Gateway to Island Whiskies”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Islands
Brand: The Six Isles 
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Age: NAS 
ABV: 43 %

Colour: Pale Straw/White Wine

Nose: Light Cold Smoke, light Rubber, Wet Clay, light Tar, Salted Pork Meat on the BBQ, light Iodine, Brine, Lime, Pizza Dough, Buttered Toast and Honey, Malt, Heather and Toffee. There's a Young feel to the spirit, yet the Aromas are quite inoffensive. It's all very laid-back and even a little Dusty. Ideal if you are just starting to sniff and taste Smoky whiskies. It's difficult to ascertain the Islay component on the Nose. The Wet Clay reminds me more of a Ledaig really. And finally, after a while in the glass, I'm getting a light Cooked Vegetables/Potatoes Aroma that instantly reminds me of Jura. The Alcohol is nicely integrated.

Palate: Young and Sweet with a touch of Talisker Pepper. I find light Iodine, Campfire Smoke, Wet Clay, Tar, light Rubber, Salted Pork, Saw Dust, Ashes, Burnt Grain, Toffee, Honey and Lemon. 

Finish: Middle-Long. Sweet at first but Dry and slightly Bitter in the end with Cold Smoke, Ashes, Salted Pork and Fish, light Iodine, light Oak, light Vanilla and a sprinkle of Lemon and Mint.     

With added Water it gets a bit Sweeter but it loses balance. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 84  

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21

General Remarks: The Six Isles is a Blended Malt Whisky from Ian Macleod and bottled by William Maxwell & Co.Ltd. It contains six Single Malts, one from each of the Scottish islands that produce Whisky namely Islay, Skye, Orkney, Arran, Jura and Mull. The Six Isles is Naturally Coloured, has a decent ABV and is Not Chill-Filtered. All of that is positive and it's still pleasantly priced at around 45 US Dollars (March 2015).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good   

Conclusion: An interesting and Well-Balanced Blended Malt that seems perfect for those of you who start exploring Smoky Whiskies. It's a very easy ride from Nose to Finish. As for the components I would say that there's very little Islay influence to be noted as far as the Peat is concerned. In fact, the Clay reminds me more of Ledaig. There's certainly some Arran, Jura and Highland Park in the mix as well as a touch of Talisker. I've tasted quite some Smoky Blends in the last couple of months and I didn't find any of them really convincing. But this Blended Malt is really well-balanced even being young and without significant Wood contact. Nice combination of the Young Sweet Spirit, the Sea, the Honey, the Clay, the Smoke and just enough Pepper and Wood for balance. It's too light for die-hard Smoke fans but a great way to discover Scottish Island whiskies. As such I recommend it.

Jan van den Ende                                                                      March 5, 2015

Smokehead Review

“For Peat's Sake : Who Distilled This Malt?" 

Country: Scotland 
Region: Islay
Brand: Smokehead
Bottled by: IanMacLeod Distillers Ltd.
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS 
ABV: 43 %
Date: 16/07/2014

Colour: Light Golden

Nose: With a name like Smokehead, I was expecting a Peat Monster but it's actually quite moderate! Still, young Islay without any doubt. Immediately you get Maritime Peat, Wet Earth, Salt, Smoke from Yesterday's Campfire, Iodine, Burnt Rubber, Charred Oak, (Shell) Fish, Ashes, Lemon, Malt and Toffee. After a while a bit of Burnt Toast, Fresh Grapefruit Juice, Sweet Cocoa, Herbs, a few Spices and Heather. A hint of Sherry. The Alcohol is not fully integrated.

Palate: Slightly Thin and Watery. I find Brine, Seaweed, Cold Smoke, Iodine, Wet Clay, Burnt Toast, Soot, Pepper, Aniseed, Licorice, Sweet Cocoa and a very faint hint of Sherry.  

Finish: Middle-Long but not very expressive and mainly Sweet with Sugared Grapefruit or Mandarin, Herbal Tea, Cold Smoke, Wet Clay, Ashes, Salt, BBQ Sauce, Licorice and a bit of Menthol.

With added Water the Nose gets more Malt and a hint of Plum Jam. But Palate and Finish do not benefit from the added Water.

Rating: 83

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 20.5 

General Remarks: Smokehead was introduced in 2006 by Ian MacLeod Distillers Ltd, an Independent Bottler established in 1934. MacLeod is the owner of the Glengoyne Distillery and is known for other Blends such as Isle of Skye. In 2009 the Smokehead Extra Black 18 Years was launched followed later by the NAS Smokehead Extra Rare, a special Travel Retail Expression. The 2006 expression is sold at around 55 US Dollars. 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: You have to admire the Marketing by Ian MacLeod in this case. Nice  trendy bottle and packaging and slick Propaganda aimed at a pubic that is both Young and Modern and has Purchasing Power. Because the Smokehead is not at all cheap for a young NAS Islay Malt. And you don't even know the Distillery that produced this Spirit. Lots of people are speculating about this with most votes going to Ardbeg (Flavour Profile) and Caol Ila (Availability). But other people vote for Laphroaig, Lagavulin or even Bruichladdich. And that's exactly what Ian MacLeod wants people to do. Because 55 US Dollars is probably okay if it's an Ardbeg or Laphroaig. But most people wouldn't spend this amount of money on a NAS Caol Ila I suppose. In my opinion the Smokehead is not too bad but it's way too expensive. The Nose is okay for a young Islay but no more than that. The Palate however is a bit thin and watery and the Finish is too short. So, if you want to drink a young Islay, go for Ardbeg 10 or Laphroaig 10 instead. At least that's what I will do! Oh yes, I almost forgot the 1 Million Dollar Question. Well, my brain tells me that Caol Ila would gain the most by selling its Malt as Smokehead. But my heart whispers to me that it' s a 5-8 years old Lagavulin! As always, my guess is as good as yours!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 July, 2014