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

February 23, 2014


Tasting young Springbank helter-skelter

So, our dear Springbank once again. We’ll first have a newish official 12 years old, and we’ll go on with various older young bottlings that we’ll pick more or less at random from WF’s ever-growing sample library, one after the other and just for fun. How does that sound? So first, the (kind of) new official…

Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (50.3%, OB, +/-2013)

Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (50.3%, OB, +/-2013) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: it seems that it’s rather gentler than earlier CS versions, or is it me? Or is it the lower strength? The vanilla seems to be more forward, while the expected sooty/phenolic notes seem to be shier than usual. What’s quite loud is this bag full of green and less green apples, all covered with some sunflower and linseed oils and a little wax. I think it’s rather less smoky than earlier bottlings. With water: this feeling of Schweppes that’s often to be found in modern Springbank or Longrow. What did you expect? Mouth (neat): seriously more springbanky this time, with bags of bitter oranges, a little curry powder and mustard, some liquorice, ashes, a coating vanilla and touches of earth and grass. Very satisfying. With water: easier, softer, all on fresh oranges and grapefruits, with some liquorice and a little pinesap. Finish: not that long, but clean and fresh, with a slightly salty and barleyish aftertaste. Comments: a notch gentler in my opinion, but simply great again – even if my favourite recent young Springbank remains the 10yo 100 proof from three or four years ago. SGP:462 - 88 points.

Springbank 13 yo 1991/2004 (50%, Lombard, Jewels of Scotland, sherrywood) I haven’t heard much from Lombard’s in recent years, have you? Colour: straw. Nose: uh-oh, I’ve never nosed a whisky that was this acetic before. Imagine a blend of acetone, apple vinegar and custard. Sounds awful? It is. Mouth: a little better, but it’s still very vinegary, although some much nicer things start to happen, especially the arrival of some kind of smoked apple juice mixed with brine. Also liquorice wood, leaves, cardamom, pepper… But the vinegar remains there, and it’s not 50 years old balsamico from Modena, I can tell you. Finish: long and quite tannic. Great news, the vinegar almost disappeared. Comments: I’ve given this baby quite some time and indeed, the acetone and such tended to become more acceptable, but it’s probably rather my nose and my palate that got accustomed and filtered all that out, as usual when there are some very whacky aromas. Or some kind of bottle contamination? Please take my score with a pinch of salt. SGP:272 - around 40 points.

Another chance for 1991…

Springbank 1991/2004 (54.2%, Murray McDavid, for Taiwan, bourbon, cask #MM430, 300 bottles)

Springbank 1991/2004 (54.2%, Murray McDavid, for Taiwan, bourbon, cask #MM430, 300 bottles) Five stars Murray McDavid had some brilliant Springbanks! Colour: gold. Nose: aaah, this is much greater. Cleaner for sure – that wasn’t difficult to achieve – and unexpectedly peaty, almost as peaty as Longrow. Or is it Longrow in disguise? So smoke, ashes, grapefruits, engine oil, freshly ground pepper… and all that. With water: some smoked floor-cloth – and I like that ;-). Mouth (neat): a perfect ultra-lemony and very acrid/pungent palate that probably a little ‘love-it-or-hate-it’, especially since there’s also more and more salt. But it’s my thing ;-). With water: more of all that, plus bitter oranges. Finish: long, acrid, lemony, smoky, sooty, ashy, ultra-dry. Comments: remarkably unsweet and probably very ‘segmenting’. Not for the fainthearted. SGP:264 - 90 points.

Springbank 1992/2005 (46%, Whisky Shop Tara, cask #327, 100cl) Two stars Tara is a nice little whisky shop in Munich, Germany. Colour: straw. Nose: barley but also a little vase water, there’s a weakness in this nose. I also find some ink, carbon paper (remember?), old coins, sweet lager… Could be nice, but the jury’s still out. Mouth: nope, there’s too much plastic and unlikely commercial lemon juice. Quite some naked Spirngbanks had that at the time, it’s all kind of oddly chemical. Pass. Finish: quite long and rather nicer, with a pinch of salt and more lemon. Comments: one of the bizarre ones. Interesting documentation, I’d say. I remember I’ve causally tried some other Springbanks for Tara that were much, and mean much more to my liking. SGP:343 - 72 points.

Springbank 12 yo 1996 (59.1%, OB, Private for J. Brass, cask #196, 287 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo 1996 (59.1%, OB, Private for J. Brass, cask #196, 287 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: same feeling as with the Lombard, this one starts hugely acetic, with even notes of gym socks and various cheese, but this time all that just vanishes in the air, leaving room for some ultra-chiselled notes of sooty grapefruits and a lot of fern and wild grass, even a little bison grass vodka or something like that. With water: water definitely killed any remaining acetic notes and brought out more smoky porridge and some baker’s yeast. Mouth (neat): very dry, with high impact bitter oranges, lemon grass, limes and, well, sooty things. Very excellent this time, no vinegar at all. With water: it got rounder, with a little more newish oak (gingerbread, pickled ginger, nutmeg) and a lot of smoky/ashy marmalade. Finish: long, with more oak spices. Comments: I got a little scared when I first nosed this baby, but then it just unfolded nicely after two or three seconds. SGP:552 - 86 points.

Springbank 10yo 1991/2002 (57.4%, Blackadder, cask #4, 285 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: not a lot happening here, this baby’s curiously silent. Maybe a little candy sugar, grass and raw barley? Hello? With water: sour apples, cider, sour wood… And some soot. That’s nicer in this context. Mouth (neat): starts sweet but notes of plastic are soon to arrive, together with bitter oranges and tonic water. Not easy, not easy… But there’s also some nicer grapefruits. With water: now it really delivers. Peppered marmalade and touches of salt. Finish: long, zesty and peppery. Orange drops in the aftertaste. Comments: ups and downs in this baby. I really enjoyed some parts. SGP:541 - 79 points.

Not too sure I should go on, those were the unlikely years… Oh well, one last try and then we’ll try to find some older young ones.

Springbank 17 yo 1992/2009 (46%, Silver Seal)

Springbank 17 yo 1992/2009 (46%, Silver Seal, Sestante Collection) Two stars Colour: white wine. Nose: oh gosh, aspirin tablets this time, linseed oil, ink, waxed papers, new plastic, tin, coins, plasticine, hay, carbolineum… Not too sure I like this, to tell you the truth. Mouth: no, it’s really weird. As usual, there are some nice lemons, grapefruits and oranges, but these chemical notes that are so big are really difficult. Some kind of very grassy industrial gin. Finish: quite long, inky and chemical. Comments: you should try to try these batches, in case you haven’t yet. Quite an experience. It’s amazing how much progress they’ve done since back then (or ‘before’, of course). One historical btotling? SGP:373 - 70 points.

But I can hear the old young cavalry coming…

Springbank 1975 (46%, OB for Tesco, early to mid-1990s)

Springbank 1975 (46%, OB for Tesco, early to mid-1990s) Five starsThat’s right, Tesco the supermarkets. Colour: amber. Nose: oh my oh my oh my, this is a different world. An avalanche of dried and fresh fruits with a slightly camphory and metallic background. Just to quote four or five of them I’d say tangerines, passion fruits, raisins, figs, papayas and oranges. I know, that’s six of them. Gets then smokier (coal smoke?) while some dried longans or litchis are also appearing. Wonderful nose from one or several perfect sherry casks. Mouth: yes, this is perfect. Starts a little mentholated and liquoricy, goes then towards overripe apples and a lot of sultanas, passes by a coal pit and a bag of vanilla fudge and ends up right in the middle of middle-eastern spice shop that would also sell pastries and a few leather items. You’re right, a souk. Choukran! Finish: not that long but all on dried figs, dates and sultanas. It’s only in the aftertaste that more tannins start to show up. Comments: simply old style Springbank from perfect sherry wood. It was good to shop at Tesco’s at the time. SGP:651 - 91 points.

A quick last one for the road (so to speak, of course we never drink and drive at WF Towers!)

Springbank 10 yo (59%, OB, sherry, +/-1978)

Springbank 10 yo (59%, OB, sherry, +/-1978) Five stars This is the pretty famous '100% pure malt in red - dark sherry' version. Colour: mahogany. Nose: yes it does remind me of the no-less famous 12 yo for Samaroli. This is simply amazing, with all dimensions involved. So a huge complexity, even at this very high strength, with first, all kinds of raisins plus prunes and marzipan-filled dates, then a wee blend of other stunning old spirits (mainly cognac and rum), then all waxes and oils of the creation as well as the rarest aromatic herbs. You may forget about ‘rarest’. What an experience… With water: not the best use of water ever, the whisky doesn’t change much. Well, it couldn’t have gotten any better anyway… Mouth (neat): where to start? This is big, this is huge, this is as rich and yet elegant and even kind of refreshing as the grandest Montrachet (Serge, we’re getting tired of your wine quotes). The only tiny-wee-ish flaw is an infinitesimal soapiness. Otherwise we have more or less the same aromas as in the nose. With water: please immediately call the anti-maltoporn brigade. And water killed that faint soapiness, unsurprisingly. Finish: long and now rather spicier. Cloves and mint first, which keeps it all fresh, then crystallised ginger and a little paprika. Comments: grand, very grand. Great spirit from some superb sherry casks. And I liked the touch of soap at some point, that kept this whisky human. Haha. SGP:652 - 95 points.

(with thanks to Angus, Bill, Emmanuel, Ho-cheng, Konstantin, and Tomislav)

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







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