Google A festive feast of Springbank

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

December 24, 2022





Xmas Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
A festive feast of Springbank!
I was already accumulating quite a few Springbank samples on my shelf, but then Whisky Magazine France asked us to pen notes for some rather irresistible old distillery bottlings and the result is today's suitably excessive session. We agreed it seemed like an ideal Christmas post for this year - hard to think of many names which are as celebratory for whisky lovers these days as Springbank. 


Like most contemporary whisky enthusiasts, I still love Springbank. It remains one of the unequivocal grand cru names in Scottish single malt distilling. The standard 10yo, if you can get it, is still one of the all time great benchmark official bottlings in my view.



I do not always agree with their way of doing things, but isn't fandom about that delicious tension between the aspects you disagree with alongside those you love? Does this make Springbank the Star Wars franchise of single malt fandom? Or are they the Rebel Alliance and the mainstream whisky industry is the Empire? Is Hedley Wright in fact Yoda? All important philosophical questions that we may never truly know the answer to, but should endeavour to discuss all the same. Preferably over a dram of Springbank. 



Thank you to everyone who continues to read, support and engage with Whiskyfun. It is a wonderful community and very much still puts the 'fun' in Whiskyfun. And also congratulations to Serge one last time. 2022 has been Whiskyfun's 20th anniversary year and I think this 'wee website', as he often refers to it, has been a great achievement; I remain honoured to contribute to it. 



Happy holidays to everyone from Whiskyfun HQ and its Scotland field office. 



Let's kick things off with a suitable aperitif… 







Campbeltown Blended Malt 5 yo 2017/2022 (57.1%, Watt Whisky, Watt Whisky & Friends 2022, 150 bottles)

Campbeltown Blended Malt 5 yo 2017/2022 (57.1%, Watt Whisky, Watt Whisky & Friends 2022, 150 bottles)
This one by Kate and Mark for their wee festival/event that took place in C-town this year - which was by all accounts a whole heap of fun. Colour: pale straw. Nose: chalk, linens, plaster, citrons and beach 'stuff' such as sand, pebbles and rock pools. Also something a wee bit mechanical and not the sooty side of Campbeltown. Very fresh, characterful and ever so slightly medicinal too. With water: more of these linens and chalky notes, oatcakes, Elastoplast and sheep wool. Mouth: these batches start to feel very cleverly older than 5 - or maybe that was just this cask. Either way, a lot of lemon juice, light waxes, some sugary breakfast cereals, ink, cursed seashells and hints of bouillon. A lot of fun stuff happening. With water: goes towards swimming pools, crushed grass, rapeseed oil and lanolin now. This nice undertone of medicine persists. Finish: good length and rather salty, drying and full of sharp mineral aspects. Comments: a very good and rather potent drop that certainly feels like it lives up to these rumours about 'teaspooned' Glen Scotia.
SGP: 462 - 87 points.



Springbank 21 yo 2000/2022 (43%, OB Private Bottling for Starkicker, fresh sherry and port hogsheads, 188 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo 2000/2022 (43%, OB Private Bottling for Starkicker, fresh sherry and port hogsheads, 188 bottles)
Colour: deep rose gold. Nose: you do notice the port with these up front notes of Turkish delight, lychee and subtle red fruit jams, but thankfully you also notice the Springbank very abruptly too, with lots of soft medical embrocations, coastal air, gentle waxes and crystallised citrus rinds. Feels like a nicely harmonious balance has been struck here. Mouth: slightly sappy at first with tea tree oil, vapour rubs, toolbox rags and hessian. Also salted and red liquorices, umami paste, mineral oils and shoe polish. A big jumble of Springbank 'stuff' with clear influence from the sherry and port fading in and out. Fun stuff, and very easy to quaff at this strength. Finish: medium in length, nicely resinous and salty now, falling firmly on the side of the sherry with oils, flints, game meats and wee tarry notes. Comments: thankfully the Springbank DNA was at no point subdued, it's just a nicely different and dangerously sippable take on it I would say.
SGP: 652 - 88 points.



Springbank 28 yo (48.9%, OB for Springbank Society, sherry and bourbon, 2966 20cl bottles)

Springbank 28 yo (48.9%, OB for Springbank Society, sherry and bourbon, 2966 20cl bottles, 2021)
One of these dinky wee 20cl bottles they did in order to try and stretch the juice further amongst the Springbank Society. Which at the last head count is probably about to surpass the population of Luxembourg. Colour: pale amber. Nose: what I love here is the very obvious - and very Springbank - sherry influence and how it has been perfectly softened and balanced by the bourbon component. Lots of leaf mulch, Irish coffee, walnut oil and a little mint choc chip ice cream, but then also hessian and cough mixtures. Gorgeous nose! Mouth: perfectly salty and resinous sherry with shades of treacle, salted caramel, fir wood resins, natural tar and roof pitch. Nicely medicinal, camphory and peppery but backed up by some lovely dark fruit and rancio qualities too. Finish: medium and on wet leaves, cellar earth, bitter chocolate and herbal extracts. Comments: an extremely classy sherried Springbank, one that cleverly balances out some of Springbank's often whacky sherry cask flavours. I suspect I'd be sadly gazing into an empty 20cl bottle if I had one.
SGP: 562 - 90 points. 



Springbank 22 yo 1999/2021 (54.7%, Mossburn, bourbon, 206 bottles)

Springbank 22 yo 1999/2021 (54.7%, Mossburn, bourbon, 206 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: a rather shy Springbank at first, feels like it has more in common with some earlier, less likely, 1990s vintages than more recent production. Gently coastal with sea breeze, some linens, subtle wood saps, a slightly lactic touch and some soft notes of herbal and fruit teas. Tiny wee notes of wax and hessian too. All fine, but perhaps a tad soft. With water: ok, improvements in the form of more waxes, waxed lemons, or citronella wax perhaps. Some tiger balm, mineral salts and bandages. Mouth: actually, scratch what I said about softness, this is top notch. Assertive, peppery, warming, waxy, perfectly salty and drying with the usual infections of medicine, coastal notes and citrus fruits. Perfect power in the mouth. With water: still nicely powerful and mouth-filling but indulges some of the softer, more coastal and fruity aspects of the Springbank character now. Finish: good length, gentle notes of smoked olive oil, tar and pepper with some waxy citrus rinds and a hint of lemon and ginger tea. Comments: very solid, benchmark Springbank with abundant distillery character. Just a rather slow starter maybe, and works very well with water I think.
SGP: 463 - 90 points.



Springbank 30 yo 'Golden Strength' (50%, Milroy's Of Soho, 1990s)

Springbank 30 yo 'Golden Strength' (50%, Milroy's Of Soho, 1990s)
Not sure about the vintage, but certainly 1960s distillate… Colour: pale gold. Nose: you are immediately transported to another dimension, all these layers and layers of ripe green and exotic fruits interlaced with heather and flower honeys, soft medicines, aged herbal liqueurs and resinous fir woods. Simple in some ways, but stunning fresh, vibrant and gloriously vivid. With water: probably scratch what I said about simplicity. Becomes more and more complex now with water, taking on mineral and salty qualities with impressions of beach pebbles, vapour rubs, crystallised fruits and aged mead. Mouth: superb attack, peppery and medicinal but then lots of fruit salad juices and fruit syrups. Guava, mango, rhubarb and custard boiled sweeties, star fruit and grapefruit. Still a lot of honey too. With water: outstanding now! Combines medicines, honeys and gorgeously fresh fruits with a perfect saltines, mineral salts and some superbly sharp herbal notes. Finish: long, salty, honeyed, exotically fruity and still full of medicinal herbs and resinous wood extracts without ever really being 'woody'. Comments: Quite simply, yet another outstanding and hugely pleasurable old Springbank from slap bang in the distillery's glory years.
SGP: 663 - 92 points.



Springbank 10 yo 1967/1978 (59.0%, OB 'Sutti import', cask #3129, sherry butt)

Springbank 10 yo 1967/1978 (59.0%, OB 'Sutti import', cask #3129, sherry butt)
This may take some time… Colour: amber-bronze. Nose: the immediate impression is that this reminds me of the famous Samaroli 12yo, only with a denser and more direct sherry profile. Which is to say, an out of this galaxy sherry style and quality that does not exist in whisky any longer. The density, salinity and earthiness combined with the depth and power of the rancio quality is really otherworldly. The most beautiful green walnut liqueur combined with Maggi and various umami liquid seasonings that take in game meats and subtle vegetal notes. There is also medicine too, in the form of cough syrups and herbal tonic wines. I also find the intricacy and harmony of it all breath-taking. It isn't a monster or a beast at all, but it is monolithic and humbling in its complexity. As we often say on Whiskyfun in such situations: this is a whisky you can only hope to follow. I've been nosing for 20 minutes and I'm really trying to resist just endlessly listing tiny aromas. With water: same commentary as before but I would say it very notably now goes towards honeys and ancient Sauternes as well. Mouth: astounding. Poetically beautiful from the get-go and also monumentally powerful and complex. Goes through everything from tars and phenolics, to fruits - both fresh and dry - to medicines and always coming back to perfectly salty, ancient, rancio-drenched sherry. With water: the most stunning umami profile, salted liquorices, soy sauce, liquid seasonings - all of world class quality. Beautifully herbal too, in a way that manages to incorporate both sweeter impressions such as very old liqueurs and the more bitter and vegetal side such as extracts, bitters, teas, roots and stocks. An utter glory that you could go on dissecting for hours. Finish: extraordinarily long with a feeling like it sticks to the back of your throat and teeth. Gamey, jammy, the darkest, stickiest most beautifully preserved fruits that have been soaking in 100 year old Cognac. Ok, enough, I'm getting far too carried away. Comments: some of the greatest distillate ever made, combined with a perfect sherry cask, plus ten years in the wood and a few decades in glass is the recipe for this pure, molten poetry. A moving, challenging, humbling and mesmeric drinking experience. One of the all-time great Springbank's from my personal perspective.

SGP: 673 - 96 points.



Quite a long break is required after that. But we still have quite a few heavyweights to go…



Springbank 21 yo 1966/1987 (46%, Samaroli, 408 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo 1966/1987 (46%, Samaroli, 408 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: harmonious is the word that comes to mind. A whole beehive of honey and honeycombs. Then some aged mead, very old liqueurs such as Drambuie from the 1940s. Wonderfully gentle, peppery, soft phenolics, natural tar, fir wood resins and delicate menthol notes such as menthol cigarette tobacco and tea tree oil. I also find terrific medicinal herbal things such as wormwood and wintergreen. Layered and extremely beautiful - very 'Samaroli' I think we can say with hindsight. Mouth: same story, outstanding resins, herbal extracts, many shades of honey, camphor, hessian and olive oil. Only it is also rather salty and sharper now, showing a little more assertiveness and heft. Even some more direct peaty notes coming through. Eucalyptus, tiger balm and serrano ham. Constantly evolving and enthralling. Finish: long and outstanding fruity now, green and exotic fruit syrups with still more honey, herbal teas, wee salty touches and crystallised citrus rinds. Stunning! Comments: so detailed and beautiful, even at 46% it manages to do remarkable things. The way it captures and holds your attention from beginning to end is just brilliant.
SGP: 662 - 93 points.



Springbank 30 yo 1966/1996 (51.2%, OB 'Local Barley', bourbon, cask #474)

Springbank 30 yo 1966/1996 (51.2%, OB 'Local Barley', bourbon, cask #474)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: tingling with fresh and crystallised fruits! Star fruit, kiwi, mashed banana and dried mango. Also spiced exotic teas, big waxiness and fruit salad juices with runny honey. I also find lime and flower blossoms with pollens. A playful and beautifully varied nose so far. With water: evolves some beautiful aromas of bergamot, kumquat, tangerine and aged Muscat wine. I love the constantly moving fruitiness in this one. Mouth: perfect attack, wonderfully resinous and herbal and full of all these familiar pollens, honeys, custard with aged sweet wines, waxes and those trademark Springbank threads of dry phenolics, cough medicines and delicate peat. With water: more syrupy, more honeyed, going towards flambeed orange peel over an Old Fashioned, blood orange and herbal wines. Also a little coconut, the wood in fact feels a little more assertive here but it's beautifully integrated and controlled, in close harmony with all these fruits and resinous qualities. Finish: long, getting more towards hessians, olive oil and camphor now. Lime once again, mineral oils, natural tar and medicinal herbal qualities in the aftertaste. Comments: totally superb, as expected. What I love here is the playfulness and the way it just throws out wee unexpected twists and turns at you as you go along. Some new fruits here, a little extra wood there. A whisky that is both beautiful and fun!
SGP: 652 - 93 points.



Springbank 1966/1997 (53%, OB, Local Barley, bourbon, cask #486)

Springbank 1966/1997 (53%, OB, 'Local Barley', bourbon, cask #486)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: another story all about honeys, flowers, waxes, pollens, deep layers and sublime concentration. The fruits here feel more crystallised and preserved in style, also a wonderfully textural impression of jellied green and yellow fruits. Gloopy, fat, gelatinous old Springbank that brims with a sense of body and texture. With water: hot house flowers, pollens, aged mead and camphor. A very heady and rather assertive floral quality but also eucalyptus, tobacco and quince - wonderful complexity now. Mouth: great attack, all on aged teas, preserved citrus rinds, a rather brittle waxiness and suggestions mineral salts, lanolin, herbal medicines and wood extracts. It is beautiful but I would say the wood is ever so slightly too much, if we're really splitting hairs. That said, this is still stunning and drenched in honeys and nectars. With water: many more fruits with water, orange marmalade with spices, tangerine, peaches in syrup. At times it would make you think of one of these stunningly fruity old Vallein Tercinier Cognacs. The wood is quieter now and there's more exotic fruit teas, melon liqueur and honeys once again. Finish: long, warming, on honeycomb, sandalwood, lightly smoked teas such as lapsing souchong and touches of camphor once again. Comments: walks a tightrope with the wood at times, but a few drops of water tidy all that up. Another old glory that seems to stand as an ode to honey and flowers.

SGP: 662 - 92 points.



Springbank 25 yo 1965 (46%, Duthie for Samaroli 'Flowers', 480 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo 1965 (46%, Duthie for Samaroli 'Flowers', 480 bottles)
Colour: bright gold. Nose: a nice variation, immediately beautiful once again but more distinguished by a medley of subtle earths, medicinal roots, dried herbal notes, wet stones and a drier, more brittle and intricate waxiness. You can add to that impressions of dried sandalwood, gorse flower and dried mint. There's also those more familiar honeyed components but they aren't as forward in the mix here. Another harmonious old Springbank that shows stunning aromatic detail. Mouth: again this is earthier, more medicinal, involving tobaccos, cigar humidor, hessian, metal polish, tiny sooty inflections, mineral oils and camphor. A feeling of peat being involved somewhere in the distant past and now leaving myriad tertiary fingerprints. Goes on with herbal liqueurs, menthol scented tobaccos and crystallised heather honey. Finish: surprisingly long for the ABV, more fully on honeys and herbal liqueurs now, a warmth of pepper and still this earthy and waxy beauty. Comments: these old Samarolis are all about harmony, intricacy, detail and subtle beauty. It's tempting to wonder what this old glory would have been like at full strength, but then you also see why he would choose to present it in a reduced way like this. Whisky to get lost in.
SGP: 562 - 94 points.



Springbank 31 yo 1965/1996 (44.7%, The Bottlers, cask #2628)

Springbank 31 yo 1965/1996 (44.7%, The Bottlers, cask #2628)
Colour: gold. Nose: stunning! An immediate and totally gorgeous mix of green and exotic fruits with the usual avalanche of slightly salted honeys, resinous fir woods, supple waxes and exotic fruity and herbal teas. Immediate and a cohesive, highly distinctive profile that just screams "1960s Springbank!", while also managing to be simultaneously extremely detailed and intricate. Given time you could identify any number of tiny wee aromas that keep popping out suggestively. I find kumquat, citrus marmalades and aged sauternes to name but three! Mouth: a little soft on the attack, that nose is a tough act to follow. But it is still beautifully sappy, honeyed and mentholated with background medicinal roots and herbs, sandalwood and touches of coconut and shoe polish. Finish: medium and nicely resinous, elegantly drying and showing more herbs, honeys, fir wood resins and crystallised citrus rinds. Comments: the nose was utterly sublime, and the palate only extremely excellent. A familiar story with older single malts, but taken as a whole still a moving and hugely pleasurable dram. And another terrific old selection from The Bottlers.
SGP: 651 - 92 points.



Springbank 29 yo 1962/1992 (46%, OB, sherry)

Springbank 29 yo 1962/1992 (46%, OB, sherry)
I've tried a few versions of these early 60s vintages with the big 'S' white label, including on these pages a 30yo dark sherry 1962 for Japan which was breath-taking (WF95), so high expectations here… Colour: mahogany. Nose: takes you to another galaxy straight away. Not unlike the 1967 cask #3129, this is a profile of immediate and devastating beauty that you can only follow. The most stunning fusion of sublime sherry with faint but hypnotic traces of drying peat smoke, precious hardwood oils and resins, camphors, antique furniture oils, stunning complicated spice aromas and long-aged tar liqueurs. An utterly mesmeric and almost haunting nose. Mouth: power and assertiveness but also incredible warmth, nuance and precision of flavour. Aged cigars and pipe tobaccos, the best dark chocolates and liquorices infused with sea salt, all manner of liqueur including herbal, fir and green walnut varieties - and why not some ancient Drambuie as well. The perfect tension of sweetness, bitterness, warm spices and the darkest, stickiest preserved fruits. Finish: fantastically long and pristinely bitter! Aged herbal extracts and cocktail bitters with fresh espresso, tars, black pepper, unlit cigars and hints of wormwood, fennel and aniseed. Comments: there are a lot of exciting things happening in whisky making all over the world, but when you taste something like this it is very hard to visualise the roadmap in your head of what it would take to make something like this again. A humbling and dominating masterpiece that is both poetry and power in a glass.
SGP: 672 - 95 points.



Heartfelt thanks and hugs to Jonny, Andy, Jolyon and the LMDW crew!




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







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