After last Friday’s review of an undisclosed Campbeltown, I figured I might as well continue down this path. I actually already briefly mentioned this young whisky in my final thoughts on the Roger’s Whisky Company release. As you’ll find out when you read on, I’m not entirely convinced by this Secret Campbeltown 2015 6 Years, which is from the Claxton’s warehouse and was bottled exclusively for Dutch retailer Dramtime.
The provenance of this Campbeltown blended malt for Dramtime is exactly the same as the one for Roger’s Whisky Company. Indeed, it is a blended malt because it is teaspooned, but for my purposes it might as well be a single malt. After all, 99.99 percent of this blended malt is produced at Glen Scotia.
Now, Glen Scotia has been getting some extremely good press this year. In April their flagship 25-year-old was named the overall winner of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Just a few weeks ago they topped that off with an award for Distillery of the Year at the Scottish Whisky Awards.
They’ve always been the ugly duckling of Campbeltown, mostly because it is hard to compete with the excellence of Springbank and (to a lesser extent) Glengyle. But to be fair, there have also been subpar Glen Scotia releases in the past. However, now the perception of Glen Scotia has changed dramatically.
They’ve mostly to thank their current owners, the Loch Lomond Group. They took over in 2015 and it is because of them that the distillery was finally allowed to focus on single malt, and most importantly, on quality. The previous owners were more concerned with bulk sales of their popular blend High Commissioner.
But getting an opportunity to shine doesn’t automatically mean that opportunity is grabbed. Someone who played an important role in all the accolades Glen Scotia has received this year, is distillery manager Iain McAlister. After being named Distillery of the Year, he was overjoyed.
“Our distillery is small, but this allows us to focus on quality, and it is so humbling to once again be recognised for our craft. […] It has been a good year for Campbeltown whisky but we’re not stopping here. We are witnessing the town’s renaissance and it is truly wonderful.”
But back to matters at hand, the Campbeltown 2015 6 Years bottled by Claxton’s for Dramtime. While it is the same vintage and age as the release from Roger’s Whisky Company, this is clearly a whisky that is all about the cask. It matured in a Pedro Ximénez quarter cask which has left an indelible mark on the spirit. There were only 162 bottles, but all sold out within a week.
Secret Campbeltown 2015 6 Years (57,5%, Claxton’s/Dramtime, C#22B)
Nose: Very sweet and candy-esque, think meringues and crème caramel with plenty of vanilla custard to boot. Some muscovado sugar, a hint of cassis and just a touch of wet pebbles and varnish. Taste: Very sweet and sticky. Dates, prunes, raw sugar and dark honey, alleviated by cloves, black pepper and a bit of mint. Finally a touch of campfire smoke and charcoal. Finish: Lingering spices and herbs intertwined with more sticky sweetness.
Exactly the kind of modern sherry influence that I tend to avoid. Dramtime's Campbeltown 2015 6 Years is not bad, but it simply relies on the cask very heavily, probably a bit too much. I'd rather given it a higher rating because I like the shop and people that run it, but c'est la vie. And like I mentioned, it's all sold out anyway.