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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

August 2, 2013



The Whiskyfun Anniversary Tastings
Five decades of Springbank
(2000, 1991, 1972, 1965, 1930s)

Springbank is one of the very few distilleries that keep making malt whisky the old way. Mind you, old doesn’t necessarily mean better generally speaking, and all these wonderful bottlings could well be coincidences, but I’ve tasted quite a few Springbanks and most have been superb. As the other guy said, when coincidences do not stop coinciding, they become law. But there may be (wood-driven) exceptions…

Springbank 12 yo 2000/2012 (50.2%, OB, Open Day 2012, fresh sherry hogshead, 313 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo 2000/2012 (50.2%, OB, Open Day 2012, fresh sherry hogshead, 313 bottles) Three stars Colour: dark gold. Nose: starts all on spent matches, and I mean hundreds of them. A lot of gunpowder too, we’re almost at the shooting gallery! But no cabbage or hard-boiled eggs (not to mention rotten ones) so these heady sulphury tones will please many aficionados – while repelling many others, I guess. Behind that wall of burnt sulphur, I seem to detect mustard, sweet curry sauce and orange marmalade. Extreme stuff! With water: same. Exactly like smelling the chamber of a gun that just shot. Reminds me of my army days. Mouth (neat): heavy stuff! Highly extractive, which makes it rather bitter and heavily liquoricy. Many spices from the wood, cloves big time, caraway big time and a little pepper to match. There’s a certain astringency, I have to say, this is no easy sip. Also a little metal (silver fork) and ginger. With water: same. Very dry, acrid, salty and tarry. Really extreme. Finish: long and drying. Bitter cocoa powder, unsweetened black tea. Comments: very extreme, for lovers of the genre only. Rather mixed feelings at WF Towers, I have to say. SGP:273 - 80 points.

Springbank 1991/2012 (51.5%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 12036, 144 bottles)

Springbank 1991/2012 (51.5%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 12036, 144 bottles) Three stars and a halfColour: white wine. Nose: the exact opposite of the official, this is one of the cleanest young Springbanks – and we know that Springbank can get magnificently dirty -, displaying bags and bags of ripe peaches. Plus peach syrup, peach gums, peach juice and peach jam. Yup! Also a little sunflower oil and maybe fresh butter. Just a little… With water: still peaches, also pears, gooseberries and other fresh fruits. Lovely, one of the most delicately fruity Springers I could nose. Mouth (neat): bigger spirit now, a little acrid and astringent just like the OB, grassy, waxy and spicy. Some peaches remain there, together with just ideas of pineapples, some lemons and touches of salt. With water: lemon and ginger now. Gin fizz? Also sweet apples and coconut oil. Finish: quite long, still very fruity, with only minor oak influences. Oakier aftertaste (tea, cinnamon and white pepper), bitterer. Comments: an interesting Springbank, quite fruitier and easier than what was distilled before… and after that specific period. SGP:652 - 84 points.

Springbank 1972 (57%, OB, Taiwan, +/-1992)

Springbank 1972 (57%, OB, Taiwan, +/-1992) Four stars and a half Proof that Scotch malt whisky was already big in Taiwan twenty years ago! Colour: white wine. Nose: this baby isn’t any older than the 1991, and the colours are identical, so this is a good occasion to try to check how the distillate evolved within twenty years. In fact, this one is much sappier and sootier, I get pinesap, a little cough mixture, definitely a feeling of ‘old coal stove’ as often in old Springbanks, some putty and some honeydew. Certainly less fruity and more phenolic. With water: great, old wardrobe, attic, old books, toolbox, oils, old cellar and all that. Saltpetre. Mouth (neat): oh yeah, exactly the same differences, except that this one has also quite some coconut oil and then various tropical fruits such as papayas and certainly more pineapples than in the 1991. Not too sure some fresh oak was involved as the colour’s so light, but so much coconut certainly shouts ‘fresh American oak!’ in my experience. With water: very very good, the sooty side comes out more, together with ashes, grapefruits and liquorice. Swims very well. Finish: long, on the same grapefruits, ashes, soot and putty-like notes. Comments: a vigorous old Springbank, somewhere between two worlds. I liked the nose (even) better than the palate. SGP:452 - 89 points.

Springbank 1965 (46%, OB, tall black label, 75cl, +/-1985)

Springbank 1965 (46%, OB, tall black label, 75cl, +/-1985) Five stars The 1963 (WF 93) and the 1964 (WF 90) were much to my liking so this one should be too, especially since 1965 was a very good ‘vintage’ at Springbank. Oh yes, remember, vintages in whisky have nothing to do with vintages in wine, it’s not a matter of nature, it’s a matter of man’s will (barleys, fermentation, cut, wood, firing, yeast, purifiers, sold stocks, whatever). Colour: gold. Nose: the 1972, only with even more complexity. Same ‘antique’ aromas (old books, fur, wool, wardrobe, old wood, old garage… well, anything old, really.) What’s amazing is that you can also nose ‘the barley’, or at least something barleyish. Also many herbal teas and straight teas, some camphor, cigars, old humidor… All that isn’t big, it’s complex just like some old white wine of extremely high quality. Montrachet-esque. Mouth: perfect. Immensely complex, ever-evolving, nervous, citrusy, sappy, herbal, spicy – but not too spicy –, more coastal and briny than the others… Just one main flavour because we call the anti-maltoporn brigade: lemongrass. Smashing whisky. Finish: very long, still very nervous, chiselled and, once again, Montrachet-esque. Comments: huge whisky that did need neither heavy peat nor heavy sherry to become, err, big. Not even high strength! I love it even more than the 1963 that we had back in June, remember? It’s bigger whisky. SGP:563 - 95 points.

Springbank 33 yo (43%, OB, pear shaped bottle, early 1970s)

Springbank 33 yo (43%, OB, pear shaped bottle, early 1970s) Three stars and a half According to the excellent Lion's Whisky who have the same bottle at time of writing, 'a three star tax flag makes it bottled before 1971, which makes this a late 1930's distillation!!' I already tried this baby when the bottle was opened and I’m afraid it was a little flat. Now that it could breathe for a few months, maybe it has regained colours? Colour: pale gold. Nose: I have to confess we’re nowhere near the stunning 1965, this is much more on ginger tonic and lemonade, which is extremely bizarre. Funny notes of wild herbs, moss, fern, then unusual flowers (unusual in whisky, that is) such as… maybe lilies? Also green oranges and rubbed lemon skin… This could well be the rarest and most expensive gin ever, but there’s also quite some old wood. After fifteen minutes: becomes cardboardy. Blimey! Mouth: same feeling. It’s got oomph despite all these years (33 years in wood + 40 years in glass, no less) but it’s a little narrow and these cardboardy notes remain. Now, it’s also saltier than modern Springbanks (are U kidding? Springbank will never be modern!) There’s a briny feeling (with gherkins), certainly seawater, lemon juice, a little sour wood, more lemon juice… Finish: good length, but it becomes flattish and the cardboardy side never was bigger. Comments: imagine, pre-WWII Springbank! In truth, it’s an interesting old bottling, as most pre-war whiskies I could try used to display more roundness, more dried fruits and… more sherry influence. And just the same amount of smokiness. It crucifies me to score this baby without taking its amazing pedigree into account. Dura Lex, sed Lex! SGP:342 - 84 points.

(With thanks to Ho-cheng, Olivier and Patrick)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Springbank I've tasted so far







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