The advantage of imaginary journeys in confinement is that you can move quickly from one point to another within a country without taking too much time.
Also, it is a snap of the fingers that I cross Scotland on board BRAD PEAT and jump from Speyside to the Lowlands, from Forres to Campbelton towards the SPRINGNBANK distillery.
Almost at the end of the Kintyre peninsula in the county of Argyll, near the harbour of the city of Campbelton emptied of its inhabitants by this damned virus, I start looking for the distillery of the area.
On paper it has enough to meet all expectations: 3 renowned brands in one place: HAZELBURN, a typical lowlands whisky triple distillation not peaty, LONGROW its brother peat-covered version (around 50 PPM) but double distilled, and finally, its other most famous brother, SPRINGBANK half sweet half peaty and distilled 2 and a half times.
So it's full of spirit that I walk down Well Street towards the distillery, but my disappointment is all the greater when I arrive in front of the closed gate.
Today, I can only imagine the artisanal methods of making this family distillery (5th generation anyway) used licitly or illicitly since 1660! I won't be able to see either the malting on the ground of the barley it treats from seed to grist. No oven that goes from peat to dry heat and produces three different types of whiskies. Nor will I see the three stills that go from double to triple distillation through double and a half! And finally I won't see either the dark and humid storage warehouse where there are still 50 years old casks.
Not this time, some other time!
So I leave BRAD PEAT in the street and head for the port overlooking the Firth of Clyde. No one in the streets. On the way, however, I pass the Burnside Bar which still seems open. Even some music comes out of it. I won't have lost everything, there must be a SPRINGBANK to taste !
Inside there's a lot of atmosphere and you can hear a song that is obviously about whisky: it's Campbeltown Loch by the Alexanders Brothers.
"Campbeltown Loch, I wish you were whisky, I'd drink you dry, Campbeltown Loch is a beautiful place today, but the price of whisky is sinister... "If it don't make you want to taste it!
My choice is one of the brand's references, a 12-year-old SPRINGBANK Cask Strength.
The liquid that John the bartender serves me is dark gold ! This color is linked to an ageing in bourbon but especially and in Sherry.
As the song continues: "If I wanted a sip, I would go swimming, I would swim day and night, Campbeltown Loch, I wish you were whiskey..." I dip my nose in the glass.
The nose is invaded by red fruits very sherry with a good dose of sugar. By forcing the first passage, the nose is adorned with the strength of the cask (54.3% anyway) and strong spices come to tickle the bottom of your nose. Time to get some fresh air. By plunging back into the glass, you discover notes of citrus fruits, quite lemony.
The peaty notes are not marked, you have to put a few drops of liquid in the palm of your hand to discover it discreetly. It is also accompanied by farmhouse notes of hay or barley!
And Andy Stewart goes on when I'm about to taste it: "And I drowned in the Loch, didn't I? You could hear me screaming, you could hear me calling, "What a wonderful way to die."
In the mouth, the 54.3% show their presence, but gradually. The distillate is initially mellow and unctuous and gradually reveals itself. The peat is always very discreet. It is more medicinal aromas which mixes with sweet citrus fruit aromas as candied. The signal at the end of the tasting is given by the arrival of more acidic and mineral notes.
I enjoy the long fruity finish but with a hint of spice at the end of the song: "Campbeltown Loch, I wish you were whisky, I'd drink you dry".
The atmosphere is nice at the Burnside Bar but I have to continue my road to containment. So I leave the bar and go to BRAD PEAT for new adventures! In the direction of...Brittany, the continuation of the Isle of Islay!