Springbank Distillery, located at Campbeltown on the Mull of Kintyre, has never been afraid of doing things differently. In January 2012 they released their 10 year old Rundlets and Kilderkins, leaving many single malt fans scratching their heads.
Your first question might be: what are rundlets and kilderkins? Put simply, they are small casks. Rundlets are around 1/7 the size of a traditional whisky butt, and hold approximately 60 litres. These smaller casks are used to mature wine, and were snapped up by Scots for the storage of claret obtained from the French in the 17th and 18th centuries. Kilderkins, a Dutch word meaning ‘small cask,’ are used for the storage of beer and ale. They are even smaller than rundlets, and hold around 20 litres.
But these little casks don’t tend to get used in the maturation of Scotch whisky. Coopers are instructed instead to shave down larger ex-bourbon/ex-sherry casks and reassemble the staves producing their very own rundlets and kilderkins. This Frankenstein experiment is rather brilliant, because you have a mixture of staves from a variety of old casks. The new make can then swap stories with American oak casks, which once matured bourbon, or European oak partisan to various fortified wines.
The truly exciting aspect of Springbank’s 2012 release is something, which on first consideration, sounds rather dull. That aspect is surface area. The greater volume of liquid compared with surface area gives you greater cask interaction. This means that the spirit is more likely to appear aged, belying its youth.
Springbank’s innovation has been very popular, with many of the online retailers selling out quickly. Whisky enthusiasts might be lucky enough to stumble upon a bottle of R&K in one of London’s more diverse wines and spirits establishments. It is certainly worth making enquiries, as you never know what’s hidden out back.
Springbank Rundlets & Kilderkins 10 year old is bottled at 49.4% and is priced around £55.
image: © Springbank Distillers