Google Two Solid Springbank Sextets, first set

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

March 7, 2023


Two Solid Springbank Sextets,
first set (for Wayne Shorter)


Springbank 'in its own juice', circa 2005 (WF Archive)
We say the older pots make the best soups.


Some recent ones and some older bottlings. Will include at least three 21 years old, we promise.


Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (55.9%, OB, batch #23, 2021)

Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (55.9%, OB, batch #23, 2021) Five stars
The great news here is that this is 100% ex-bourbon. Granted, many ex-sherry Springers have been utterly splendid, but some have been a little more, say uncertain (s*****r). Let's see… Colour: straw/white wine. Nose: this is what a few fine folks dislike in Springbank, whilst we do love it, soot and metal polish. A lot of moss too, paraffin, old tools and greases, perhaps a few wood shavings from a carpenter's, stale seawater, certainly a little soap and lady's hand cream, some mustard and horseradish, wasabi, petroly riesling… No complains whatsoever this far. With water: paraffin and turpentine up, with clearly some saponification that will last for at least one minute. No problems, this is fun. Mouth (neat): exceptional salt and concentrated lime juice, a few drops of aguardiente to make a wee mojito, some amaro (Montenegro and such), some greasy and sooty matters, some pepper, radish… With water: gets rootier, I'm getting quite some gentian and more bitter drinks, Underberg-style. More salt too. Finish: very long, with this wee austerity that we always love in young natural Springbank. Lemon, perhaps a shot of salty dog? Comments: in the same class as the dazzling – and yet cheaper - 10 yo. This session starts well.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

More bourbon glory please…

Springbank 21 yo 2000/2021 (45.2%, North Star Spirits, refill barrel, 238 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo 2000/2021 (45.2%, North Star Spirits, refill barrel, 238 bottles) Five stars
North Star have had quite few fab whiskies from the Springbank galaxy recently, but we had never tried this one. Colour: straw. Nose: we're tasting time here, 100%. In truth this is exactly the official 12 + 9 years, really, which I find spectacular as this goes to prove that indeed, you can taste the years. No no no, this is not just cheap drunk philosophy! Amazing beeswax, a few exotic fruits, the same Italian bitters (amaro) but with more bitter vegetables and roots inside (angelica, artichoke), while the whole would be softer and even easier than the 12, thanks to more vanilla and even mangos. Fantastic drop on the nose. Mouth: cancel that gibberish, this is as tight and even biting as Springbank can get, with profusions of grapefruits, artichoke, pepper, salty waxes and oils, bitterer marmalade, manzanilla (yep I noticed this was bourbon)… While I cannot get that Italian amaro (tautology alert I would suppose) out of my head; you know, Montenegro. So good! Finish: long, superbly bitter, sooty and waxy, with the grapefruits and artichokes lying in wait . Oysters, lemon, salt and pepper in the aftertaste, classic. Comments: just tremendous. Let it breathe a wee bit.
SGP:562 - 92 points.

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, 'Headley G Wright', for Taiwan, +/-1992)

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, 'Headley G Wright', for Taiwan, +/-1992) Five stars
I believe this one came after the 'John Mitchell' and 'Archibald Mitchell' versions of the 'parchment label' 21. Colour: light amber. Nose: absolutely, older, softer Springbank, more on beeswax, honey and just metal polish at first, then many fruit wines and dried fruits, especially figs. Some strong heather honey too, those old coins we keep mentioning (pennies), then some liquorice and a little bouillon. Typical old Springbank, they keep evolving in your glass for ages. Quite some paraffin too, even a little shoe polish. Su-perb. Mouth: it's closer to the newer ones on the palate, with more soot, mustard, brine, marmalade, bitter vegetables, roots, etcetera. Dryer than expected, in that sense, although tropical fruits do slowly wake up too, together with a little apricot and peach skin. Mentholated mangos and raisins, does that exist in real life? Some muscovado too, Demerara sugar, eucalyptus and oranges, camphor… Finish: medium, very waxy, with rather a lot of mead and old sweet wines that got dry. Indeed, Sauternes and compadres. Comments: another magnificent, transitional Springbank. What I mean is that I have the impression that it's sitting well between the luscious 1960s and the tighter 1990s.

SGP:651 - 92 points.

Springbank 21 yo 1966/1987 (46%, Samaroli, 408 bottles, 75cl)

Springbank 21 yo 1966/1987 (46%, Samaroli, 408 bottles, 75cl) Five stars
Perhaps not the most well-known Springbank by Samaroli but naturally, collectors know it well. Remember 1966 was a seminal vintage at Springbank… and elsewhere. Colour: gold. Nose: no-quibble, immediately sublime, with some distant tar smoke and burnt tyres from times gone by, then lady's day cream, suntan lotion and old furniture polish, old library, old books… Some very discreet oakiness, with hints of sandalwood and coconut shell.  Mouth: pretty powerful for 46% vol., first fruity and even a tad 'sweet' (quince paste), then a little oakier again, with some strong black tea, bitter chocolate and cinnamon cake. Touches of old banana skin, not unseen in whiskies that are a td oaky. Finish: rather long, with a grassy tannicity (herbal tea, chamomile) and yet a perfect balance. Some green bananas and an earthy side in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps not the most obvious of all 1966s, despite its irresistible nose, possibly because of some wood that's been a little loud. Having said that, we remain extremely close to the top in my book.
SGP:551 – 92 points.

Why not stay in 1966 and summon two of the Yardbirds?

Springbank 31 yo 1966/1997 'Local Barley' (53%, OB, Bourbon, cask#486)

Springbank 31 yo 1966/1997 'Local Barley' (53%, OB, Bourbon, cask#486) Five stars
One of my greatest regrets in my whisky life has always been not to have been able to taste all these. Yet! Colour: gold. Nose: the higher wattage is having an immediate impact, while we're starting this fully on quince paste, mirabelle jam and bergamottes sweets from Lefèvre-Lemoine's in Nancy (I believe it's time to restore those to favour). Then we find a little salted butter caramel, some pretty tannic honey (chestnut and compadres) and a few touches of old wood, old book… With water: some paraffin, some church candles, some pine wax… Mouth (neat): the oak is very present on the palate, as well as notes of old bourbon of high quality (Old Fitzgerald), some custard, dates filled with marzipan, abundant candied fruits, a few burnt walnuts… With water: herb tea, infusions, green tea, all that a tiny bit oversteeped; that's the oak that keeps expressing itself in a beautiful manner. A camphory side and some crème de menthe. Finish: long and constantly improving, which is not very common, in my opinion. Superb return of all candied fruits, cherries, orange zests, and even angelica. The signature is even more on menthol. Comments: these Local Barleys have always been softer and more docile than their offspring which is rather more rustic (shall we say). But it's true that they were also much older. Everything was as expected and quite logically, our humble score will be appropriately high.
SGP:651 - 93 points.

Last one…

Springbank 31 yo 30 yo 1966/1996 'Local Barley' (51.2%, OB, Bourbon, cask#474)

Springbank 30 yo 1966/1996 'Local Barley' (51.2%, OB, Bourbon, cask#474) Five stars
It is to be remembered that these Local Barleys, as their name suggests, have all been distilled from barley grown on Sir Paul's Mull of Kintyre's. On that subject, there will be a wee surprise here tomorrow (not related to Sir Paul, related to Kintyre!) Colour: gold. Nose: I believe all the ex-bourbon LBs are a notch simpler than their sherried counterparts, but on the other hand and in return, they would have displayed a magnificent fruitiness, often focused on mirabelles, quinces, sweet little citrus and jujubes, with sometimes, as is the case here, a few camphory and mentholy notes that would add even more depth. A little cough syrup, eucalyptus… With water (just one drop): salted butter caramel, that insane Breton cake called kouign aman (50% butter), hints of honeysuckle, acacia flower fritters…  Mouth: magnificent, impressively pure, without a single sign of any somewhat superfluous oak this time, only a little mint and liquorice in the background. Medlars, overripe apples, candied fruits, panettone, orange blossom, oriental pastry… With water: some crystallised citrus, ala old Clynelish. Can't beat this. Finish: rather long, combining mint with eucalyptus and all those crystalised fruits. Nothing you could do against this, should you ever want to. Comments: totally superlative, wonderfully balanced, in line with the greatest old Springbanks. Only a few ex-sherry can be even superior, but certainly not all of them (in my own opinion, as always).
SGP:651 – 94 points.

So tomorrow another sextet of Springbank of the same ilk, plus that little surprise I have promised.

(Thank you Tim, Ryan and the Whisky Mag & Fine Spirit and Golden Promise super-crews)

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







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