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

July 17, 2019


A bag of indie Springbank de la muerte

It’s hard to spend a whole month without tasting a bunch of high-flying Springbanks. THE grand cru of Scotland, all things considered. Let’s see what we have, and do it deep…

Springbank 27 yo 1991/2018 (46.4%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead)

Springbank 27 yo 1991/2018 (46.4%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead) Five stars
Clark Gable’s very own tipple, according to the label, although if I remember well, he would have rather been a partisan of Jim Beam.  Colour: gold. Nose: no no no, this is too fast, we shouldn’t have tried this one first. But it’s the lightest of them all, so… Amazing apricots stewed in mint and vanilla sauce, angelica, aniseed, then that magical sauce that gathers orange juice, olive oil and chestnut honey, some pollen, some tangerine skin (when they get very ripe), and a little thuja wood, or any very resinous wood. It is rather extraordinary, I have to say. This baby gathers old Springbanks (mid-1960s) and modern Springbank. Mouth: in truth, it’s a Springbank that’s rather akin to the best fresher honeyed Speysiders. Early 1970s Glen Grants, Caperdonichs, or even older Lochsides… There are a few wackier metallic and mineral touches, though. It is very brilliant whisky, for sure. Overripe apples, mead, honeys, pollen, Virginia tobacco, older sultanas, dried litchis… Finish: not too long, but beautifully honeyed. Comments: I am surprised, I had always thought the great ‘newer’ vintages had rather started around 1993. I’m not sure I would have recognised this very soft Springbank, but it’s absolutely marvellous whisky. A gentler Springer, some would say. Oh and no sulphury sherry wood here!
SGP:641 - 91 points.

Indeed, this is too fast already…

Springbank 26 yo 1992/2019 (47.7%, The Whisky Kingdom & Duckhammers, bourbon barrel, cask #153b)

Springbank 26 yo 1992/2019 (47.7%, The Whisky Kingdom & Duckhammers, bourbon barrel, cask #153b) Five stars
Duck hammers? Are these fine lasses and lads hunters? Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, I was right (nothing to be proud of, old boy) there is more Springbankness in this vintage. I mean, more greases and oils, carbs, paraffin, engine oil and stuff. But other than that, there’s still a huge honeyness, some wonderful dried fruits, a stunning kind of fruity metallic side, some pinesap, moss, toothpaste, eucalyptus, and perhaps some kind of tropical wine. They make banana wine in Guadeloupe, that could be it. Or mango wine. And there’s quite some marzipan too. Mouth: we’re more towards 1991 than 1993 here, with loads of tropical fruits that would almost generate a feeling of soap. A lot of bananas, coconuts, pineapples, papayas, then softer honeys, spearmint cordial, some panettone, fresh croissants… To be honest, it is very good, but not extremely Springbanky on the palate. Again, this could be, say Glen Grant 1972. Finish: medium, with rather more ‘soapy mangos’ and quite some mead. Comments: could be that this bourbon cask did offset a large part of any Springbankness. The end result is rather fantastic though, just rather a tad lighter than expected.
SGP:641 - 90 points.

Quick, a 1993…

Springbank 25 yo 1993/2018 (48.1%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead)

Springbank 25 yo 1993/2018 (48.1%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead) Five stars
Who’s this American actress again? Gene Harlow? Colour: pale gold. Nose: must be me, really, I can’t seem to find a huge Springbankness in this one either, but indeed there would be a little more olive oil, for instance. Or raw wool, candles, teak oil, brake fluid, freshly roasted coffee beans, a little wood smoke… We’re getting there, we’re getting there! What’s sure is that it’s less fruity, and rather drier and smokier than the 1991 and 1992. A little umami too, cigars, tarmac… Hurray! Mouth: ah there! Wonderful notes of peaty pastis (ideas ideas, Pernod…) salt, black olives, smoked meats and fish, Maggi (Angus is about to start, watch these pages!), parsley and lovage, basil, even green pesto (basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese)… Well, this is simply extraordinary, it is the smokier, fatter, more complex side of The Springbank. Finish: long, really very ashy and savoury. Some may like to pour this over sushi. Comments: so, Gene Harlow?
SGP:454 - 92 points.

It’s all going well, is it not? So why not go black?

Springbank 24 yo 1994/2019 (47.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, The Black Series, sherry hogshead, 148 bottles)

Springbank 24 yo 1994/2019 (47.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, The Black Series, sherry hogshead, 148 bottles) Five stars
Well, black whisky, not too sure about that idea. On the one hand, you had the famous Black Bowmores, that’s true; but on the other hand, you had Loch Dhu, that putrid black swill. Now I doubt DL would have tried to come up with some new Loch Dhu (and wasted a cask of Springbank during the process). Let’s see… Colour: it is not that black, just a little bronze-ish. Nose: shh, quiet please. Bitter chocolate, prunes, Egyptian mocha, metal polish, umami sauce, Cohibas (whichever Cuban make, really), very black tea, white truffles, car engine (from an old British car, so with a lot of leaks -ha, love them), and a spoonful of Marmite, as well as a wee glass of Maggi. Exceptional nose. Mouth: one of the earthiest whiskies I’ve ever tried. Whether this is natural or not, I don’t know (of course it is), but it’s like if you would eat half a kilo of raw morels (which you shouldn’t do, as they’re poisonous when not cooked), and simply some raw garden peat and earth. I may have found this feeling in a few wines, especially from volcanic soils like the Rangen de Thann in southern Alsace, but never in whisky, as far as I can remember. Total umami, for umami freaks! Finish: long, chocolaty and coffeeish. With drops of 19th century Armagnac in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m wondering if this wasn’t a proper old ex-solera oloroso butt. DL, am I far off? Glorious old savoury whisky, and very singular at that. Masterful whisky.
SGP:362 - 93 points.

Back to some whiter ones, you can’t get enough Springbank!

Springbank 25 yo 1992/2017 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency for Shinanoya, Japan, hogshead)

Springbank 25 yo 1992/2017 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency for Shinanoya, Japan, hogshead) Five stars
Wonderful label, hope the whisky will be on par. Colour: gold. Nose: looks like we’re back on honeys and overripe fruits, with less Springbankness again, and more ‘Speyside-y fruitiness’. Compotes, overripe pears, quinces, heather honey, a little spearmint, sunflower oil, fresh Spanish turon (one accent missing), then more beeswax and plasticine. Indeed that is rather Springbank. Mouth: no, this is fantastic, if rather softer than later Springers. Hay wine, crushed bananas, quince jelly, marzipan, wee notes of peanut butter (close to turon indeed), perhaps medlar jam, then a little salt, chutneys, wax… Distillery character is on the rise here, and no one will complain about that. Finish: medium, perfect, waxy and jammy, with much elegance and balance. More citrus, grapefruit juice, lime in the aftertaste. Comments: 1992 really was an intermediate vintage – as far as vintages make any sense with whisky – which they do in their own way!
SGP:552 - 91 points.

1993 again, please…

Springbank 1993/2014 (50.9%, OB, Private Bottling, fresh sherry cask, cask #444, 274 bottles)

Springbank 1993/2014 (50.9%, OB, Private Bottling, fresh sherry cask, cask #444, 274 bottles) Five stars
Some likely heavy sherry, and some cask owners who were comfortable staying in the shadows. Which is oh so little ‘2019’. Very refreshing when you see all these mediocre booze people a.k.a. attention whores who, when talking about whisky (or rum, whatever), would rather post pictures of themselves than bottles or stills! Colour: amber. Nose: first thing first, very little sulphur, if any. All the rest will be a bed of roses then, with quinces, dried dates, soot, old wine cellar, mushrooms, prunes, old rancio, red peach jam, Bellini (champagne and peach purée), earth, and most naturally, liquorice. With water: leather and earth all over the place, plus this little rubber that’s consubstantial to any good modern Springbank. Mouth (neat): it is a tad raw, but that’s an asset to any Springbank. Orange squash, even Fanta (oh the…), bitter oranges, aspirin tablets, chalk (hurray!), plaster… With water: excellent. Chocolate, bitter oranges, chalk, and soot. Some grease too. Finish: long, on bitter oranges and plasticine. Lovely! Comments: not all private casks are/were perfect, but this one was. Kudos, Mr. X.!
SGP:562 - 91 points.

A last one? Are you game? Isn’t that too much?

Springbank 1995/2014 (53.9%, OB, Private Bottling, Fonseca Port cask, cask #545, 185 bottles)

Springbank 1995/2014 (53.9%, OB, Private Bottling, Fonseca Port cask, cask #545, 185 bottles) Five stars
Another well-mannered anonymous cask owner! Port is always scary, with any whisky, but this was a 1970 Fonseca cask. Colour: gold. Nose: no obvious Port, almost no Port at all, actually, rather this impeccable waxy greasiness and these whiffs of crushed chalk and Italian lemon sauce that are so marvellous. Some green apples too, fresh plaster, soot, mouldy old wine cellar, and very old lager beer (please don’t drink it). With water: mud, plaster, yogurt, plasticine, new sneakers. Like, the stupidest Nikes. Mouth (neat): pungent, ultra-fresh, bandage-y, mineral, lemony, and rather sour, yeasty, almost bacterial. Not consensual malt whisky for sure, but boy do we love this! With water: lemon juice, grass juice, crushed chalk, paraffin. All very basic ingredients, I agree. As my dear mother used to say about wine, why pay hundreds then? She was right! Finish: rather long, clean, lemony, oily, chalky. Comments: I was thinking, isn’t this ‘free whisky’, as in ‘free jazz’? Nah, forget about that, this is neither the time, nor the place… Now where was the Port? Not that we shall complain, naturally…
SGP:463 - 92 points.

I’m glad we had two superb private casks. To whom this may concern, bravo! But DL’s new black shtuff won it today. Really, I never found this much earth in any whisky…

(Merci Nicolas!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Springbank we've tasted so far







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