This is the defining Campbeltown distillery, and at certain points in its history has been the sole heir to the region’s legacy: of the 30+ distilleries once present in the town, Springbank is the only one that has had an (almost) unbroken reign of success. It is now effectively the godfather and guardian of the entire whisky industry in Campbeltown, breathing life back into Glengyle, lending its staff to Glen Scotia, and spawning renowned independent bottlers Cadenhead’s. It remains, as ever, under the independent (and local) ownership of J. & A. Mitchell, whose family acquired it very shortly after its founding in 1828, and have never bowed to industry pressures. They continue to produce whisky in an entirely traditional manner, carrying out all parts of the production process (from malting to bottling) onsite.
Almost all of Springbank’s production is bottled as single malt: the only whisky that finds its way into blends is that destined for J. & A. Mitchell’s own blends, such as Campbeltown Loch, as the distillery’s independent status gives its owners absolute control over where their whisky goes. The official bottlings are produced under three different names, derived from deceased neighbouring distilleries and each with a different style and production recipe (much like Bruichladdich). The classic Springbank is in the old-school Campbeltown style, lightly peated and distilled “two-and-a-half times”(each batch effectively contains a mixture of double-distilled and triple-distilled malt); Hazelburn is an unpeated triple-distilled variety, creating a softer and more accessible, Lowland-style dram; while the formidable Longrow is heavily peated and distilled only twice for a more robust, intense Islay style.
Each of these carries the distillery’s house characteristics: a distinctive cotton wool-like element, with earth, sea salt and nutmeg: the peated varieties (Springbank and Longrow) have varying levels of smoke, while the lighter Hazelburn is fresh, light and fruity.