Google Two Solid Springbank Sextets, second set

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

March 8, 2023


Two Solid Springbank Sextets,
second set


Command post at Spirngbank Distillery, circa 2005
Not quite the International Space Station. (WF Archive)


Let's stay in the ethers, with the eagles. Say with the white-tailed sea eagles and the bald ones (which are not exactly the same, apparently).



Springbank 14 yo 2002/2017 (58.4%, OB, Duty Paid Sample, Warehouse 3, fresh sherry hogshead, rotation 873, 2002)

Springbank 14 yo 2002/2017 (58.4%, OB, Duty Paid Sample, Warehouse 3, fresh sherry hogshead, rotation 873, 2002) Four stars
Remember each bottle is different (picture for illustration purpose only) in this series, as they're all drown from individual casks. Which also means that this note is even more anecdotal than usual. Colour: brown amber. Nose: indeed, these batches. Chocolate and struck matches, lamp oil, coal tar, a little sour wood, bags of black currants, coffee liqueur, marrow, varnish, game, concrete dust… This is certainly not one of the clean ones. With water: English mint sauce, mutton, parsley, various bouillons, several raisins. Mouth (neat): a salty and peppery broth, very potent, pretty sour at first but coffee and chocolate (and gunpowder) would soon add some Springbank fatness. Not my preferred style but still one of the very good ones for sure. With water: it takes water well but really starts to resemble some middle-aged ex-1st-fill sherry Ben Nevis. Lemons keep it afloat. Finish: long and, this time, a little odd. Fanta and Schweppes Lemon, Campari and Kahlua, no less. Comments: it's always a fight in you glass when you stumble upon 1st fill sherry Springbank (or indeed, Ben Nevis, Clynelish, HP, Benromach and others…) Now some action is always welcome.
SGP:572 - 85 points.

Springbank 27 yo 1994/2022 (47%, WhiskySponge, refill sherry hogshead, 251 bottles)

Springbank 27 yo 1994/2022 (47%, WhiskySponge, refill sherry hogshead, 251 bottles) Five stars
Looks like the Sponge wanted to tell us that it's really what's inside the bottle that counts. Colour: chardonnay. Nose: chardonnay. I am not joking! Some nice blanc de blancs from the Côte des Blancs, plus some gooseberries, granny smith, some fresh butter, apple juice, candle wax, a cup of celeriac juice, one of carrot juice, just a little custard, and the signature white asparagus that sometimes – not often – appear in civilised Springbanks. Let's put this straight, this could have been Clynelish just as well. Mouth: it was not quite a nosing whisky, the palate's having it. Fantastic roots and waxes, tart green fruit (the same apples, greengages, kiwis) and this extraordinary chalkiness that would remind us of some great… terroiry chardonnays indeed. Limestone, do you hear me? I've had a little Auxey-Duresses the other day… that's all I'm saying! In any case, Sponge or not Sponge, this palate is perfect. Finish: rather long, very elegant, with a few medicinal touches and even a little fennel and aniseed. Comments: I adore this one on the palate. I'm glad I could order twelve palettes before the word was even out. I wish.

SGP:462 - 92 points.

Springbank 26 yo 1995/2022 (51.1%, WhiskySponge, refill American oak hogshead, 249 bottles)

Springbank 26 yo 1995/2022 (51.1%, WhiskySponge, refill American oak hogshead, 249 bottles) Four stars and a half
So plain vs. sherry as I understand it. Colour: straw. Nose: not automatically greater, just because it's ex-US oak. I would say it's even a tad less elegant, more 'sweet and bonbony', with more jelly babies and mango sweets. I would suppose water will unleash the cavalry… With water: what a gentle Springbank! Isn't it rather Hazelburn? Now the white asparagus is there, blancmange, vanilla cake, fresh white bananas, wet plaster... Mouth (neat): indeed it is a notch fatter than the 'sherry', but that could be the higher strength. Some flinty limoncello. With water: nah you can't really resist this zesty, clean, simple, leafy side of Springbank, even if his one will remind us that after all, Campbeltown is not that far from the Lowlands. Green apples. Finish: medium, very fresh, on orchard fruits. Lovely little saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm sure many friends will have preferred this one over the 'sherry'. Could be that the latter was more for wine freaks but anyway, both are great bottles.

SGP:541 - 89 points.

Drum roll please, here's that intermediary bonus I had promised yesterday…

Kintyre 1891-1920 12 yo (40%, Eaglesome ltd., Campbeltown Commemoration, miniature, +/-1990)

Kintyre 1891-1920 12 yo (40%, Eaglesome ltd., Campbeltown Commemoration, miniature, +/-1990) Five stars
Just found this one in the stash. Level was unusually high, while these are usually flat dead these days. Even if it is labelled as a 'vatted malt whisky', rumour has it that it was pure Springbank. You would have found all old Campbeltowners within this commemorative series, such as Dalintober, Dalaruan, the original Burnside, Lochruan, Riechlachan, and Kintyre Distillery indeed, but sadly, it appears that they only ever did miniatures. Colour: golden amber. Nose: yes, pure beehivey Springbank, full of honeys and overripe fruits, apples, figs, dates… Then biscuits and rice pudding (full of gorgeous caramel). Funny touches of sweet mustard. Mouth: fantastic, extremely bright, even a little brutal at first. I cannot believe that this was bottled at 40% vol. Fat caramel, cane sugar, some sooty oils, tobacco, many dried fruits, some game (grouse, naturally) and salty caramel; millionaire shortbread, tarry butterscotch… It sure reminds me of some old official 12s, but rather those at 100 proof or 57% vol., which is amazing. Finish: astonishingly long. Comments: I do confirm, it is (well, was) a miniature, without the slightest metallic or cardboardy tones. What's sure, having said that, is that it never, ever saw the light; because remember, light is the true enemy.

SGP:562 - 90 points.

Good, we've had some fantastic 1966 Local Barley yesterday, today let's try some 1965s and then perhaps an even older one…

Springbank 25 yo 1965 (46%, Duthie for Samaroli, Flowers, 75cl, 480 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo 1965/1990 (46%, Duthie for Samaroli, Flowers, 480 bottles, 75cl) Five stars
There used to be another pretty fantastic 1965 at Samaroli's, a 23 yo in the "Ageing Monography" series. But this should be something else yet… Colour: deep gold. Nose: to me these 1965s are rather more floral than the 1966s but this wee observation has been drawn from only a dozen expressions, so it hasn't got any scientific value (naturally). There's certainly a marvellous sherry behind this one, with the obligatory walnuts, a rather obvious mentholy side,  some sesame oil, some nougats of several kinds, touches of genever and some orange marmalade. The oak really behaved and would have rather mingled with some cedarwood, cigar boxes etc… Mouth: immediately candied and jammy, but with much elegance and finesse (a lot of French words in English tasting vocabulary – in mine at least, ha). Notes of kumquats, orange zests dipped into chocolate, heather honey, earl grey, beeswax, walnut cake covered with marc icing… I'm even finding touches of old rhum agricole, but don't great old spirits tend to converge indeed? Experienced blind tasters, please report back!  Finish: pretty long, with an incomparable freshness and more candied fruits, and with echoes of Jamon Iberico in the distance. Comments: no doubt, the level is extremely high but let's remember Silvano Samaroli was a Springbank aficionado. You can feel that in his bottlings that have almost all been as wonderful as each other.
SGP:651 – 94 points.

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

Springbank 31 yo 1965/1996 (44.7%, The Bottlers, cask #2628) Five stars
New whisky folks might want to learn that The Bottlers was the indie-bottler branch of Raeburn Fine Wines in Edinburgh, a little house that used to fill cognac bottles with the greatest malt whiskies, which used to more or less reign supreme on our lists (when we still had time to build and update lists, so in the 2000s). I could never quite understand why they stopped doing those bottlings, maybe because they couldn't find any casks that were up to their standards anymore? Come on! Colour: gold. Nose: how elegant! Somewhat austere in the beginning, with ripe apples, quinces, the fruit of the service tree – we call it cormier, fab when overripe; whiffs of balsawood, cedarwood, a little orgeat syrup, then ferns and mosses, old stumps, mushrooms… A true old Springbanks from the woods, austere, almost an hermit trying to escape the thirsty masses (that's us). Mouth: amazing but once again it wouldn't engage at first, you really have to show your credentials. At the very most we would mention oranges, a few plums, a few drops of mead, a small glass of old Sauternes that would have digested all its sugars, plus a few sultanas to add some smoothness. Perhaps some honey drops? Finish: a few oaky tones and some dryer herbal teas make it lose one point, but The Bottlers, this is not vengeance! Still, we want more whiskies of yours… Comments: to be honest, all these Springbanks distilled in the 1960s are part of the very best whiskies in the world and I sometimes feel it is inappropriate, impolite and vulgar to try to decide between them. But while we are at it…

SGP:551 – 93 points.

A last old glory, while hoping that the Distillery will manage to release such utter wonders again. Even if I know trying to carbon-copy your glorious past is pretty tricky to do (same at Bowmore, Macallan and others).

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

Springbank 29 yo 1962/1992 (46%, OB, sherry) Five stars
Aficionados would tend to nickname this series 'white label big golden S', which, we agree, is not extremely creative. 1962 is not a very common vintage, but Samaroli had a stunning Ord, for example. Cadenhead too had some very good ones in their legendary 'black dumpy' bottles (more creativity yet). As for Springbank, there were official 30 and 32 yo, but I believe this 29 is particularly rare. Colour: mahogany. Nose: a dazzling depth and a profile that's totally metanoiacal, transcending any notions of origin, category, original ingredients and even age. Nutshell, this could be some very old rum, armagnac, cognac, or even a calvados, but that just doesn't matter, all those notions being rather pedestrian (I'm jesting). Or there, it could be some very old palo cortado from the 19th century, why not! Granted, it's a little massive, even slightly rustic if I may, but we love it. Cigars, prunes, oyster sauce, pipe tobacco, molasses..; Well, you see. Mouth: very rich, oily, just as massive, but with a marvelous roundness, as if it were a very old Spanish or French rancio (Grand Roussillon, Rivesaltes, Rasteau, Banyuls, Maury…) We're also close to the style of some old Macallan indeed, possibly to the 1962 Campbell Hope & King. Not the 25 1962 Anniversary, that one was lighter. Anyway, enough nostalgia, we have more and more prunes, coffee liqueur, tar liqueur, tobacco, hoisin sauce… Finish: very long, drier but more syrupy at the same time. The impression of having some bit of pipe tobacco in your mouth. Comments: an old whisky that humbles the taster and will almost decide for itself on the score. In short, the taster only serves as a foil for the whisky here.
SGP:661 - 95 points.

(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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