It is a fact that no distillery in Scotland is as self-contained as Springbank. From the actual malting of the barley, the very first step of the whisky-making process, through to the final one of bottling, every detail is carried out on site under the experienced and exacting gaze of Springbank staff, led by the distillery manager.
Very few distilleries these days malt their own barley using traditional floor maltings. Springbank is one of only a handful dotted around Scotland keeping the tradition alive. But here again, as in so many other ways, Springbank is unique. It is one of only two distilleries which malt all the barley required for distilling, which means Springbank has greater control over its quality than most other distilleries in Scotland.
On arrival at the distillery the barley is first conveyed into the barley loft and stored. When required it is steeped in cool, clear water and dried using a subtle drying process. This process is carried out three times with each grist. Finally, after an unhurried 70 hours fermentation, it is ready for distillation. Even here Springbank takes an individual approach. Instead of using the conventional double distillation method, Springbank boasts three stills and operates a form of partial triple distillation.
But, almost certainly, it is what happens after the spirit has been run off the still that determines the final outcome of how it will nose, how it will taste on the palate and in the finish which lies on the tastebuds several minutes after you have swallowed. After the spirit has been filled into an empty cask it is left in a dark, moist warehouse from anything from three years (the age when the spirit legally becomes whisky) to 30 years before it is taken out to be bottled.
In the bottling process, Springbank is one of the last distillers to refuse to add caramel to its whisky for colour uniformity.
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