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

May 21, 2024


Some Springbank to celebrate… well, Springbank

Still a top-five distillery in my book. Let's choose three or four of them from the stash…

(Staves in the yard, 2005, WF Archive)




Springbank 5 yo 2017/2023 '100° proof' (57.1%, OB, Society Bottling, fresh bourbon, 2166 bottles)

Springbank 5 yo 2017/2023 '100° proof' (57.1%, OB, Society Bottling, fresh bourbon, 2166 bottles) Four stars and a half
One has fond memories of some very old Springbank 5-year-olds, the ones with black labels. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh the elegance of this distillate, even at an almost forbidden age. New tweed, virgin wool, lemon juice, paraffin, slag, basalt, and finally, strawberry candy. The latter should have disappeared after a few years, but at five, it remains. It's amusing. With water: more austere, with smoked tea, grape seed oil, plasticine, and quite a bit of charcoal. Mouth (neat): simply impeccable. Lemon, engine grease (not something we consume every day), various waxes, a drop of seawater, a bit of kiwi and rhubarb. Impeccable, truly. With water: softer, almost fruitier, with herbs and flowers—borage, pansies, nasturtiums. That's amusing too! Finish: rather long, truly fruity, it's almost moving when you know that this fruitiness will meld between, let's say, 5 and 10 years. Roughly speaking... Comments: it's a bit like a photo of an infant before he/she starts to really grow. A very beautiful photo, by the way.
SGP:652 - 88 points.

A rather new one…

Springbank 24 yo 1999/2024 (54.5%, Decadent Drinks, Westie Sponge 3, first fill sherry butt)

Springbank 24 yo 1999/2024 (54.5%, Decadent Drinks, Westie Sponge 3, first fill sherry butt) Five stars
Probably the exact opposite to the awesome 5 yo. Colour: deep gold. Nose: right, it does start with a wee box of old matches, but those are the same matches you would find in any proper high-grade oloroso (or amontillado, or palo cortado). They would lead you to menthol and cough lozenges, citron liqueur, fresh moist black pipe tobacco, which in turn would lead to very old PX, VORS stuff and such, then cold cuts, goulash, crazy sausages, prunes and raisins, then the blackest potting soil and the craziest pudding. Or the other way 'round. With water: really something antique, it reminds me of those replica vintage cars, such as the Argentinian Bugattis 'Pur Sang' or those crazy Excaliburs from the 1980s. An old whisky made today. Chocolate, coffee, gravy, umami sauce. Mouth (neat): cream of Springbank. Root vegetables, thickest marmalade, truffle, chen-pi, a glutamatey side as well, Worcester sauce, some kind of sweeter balsamico, sloe liqueur… Is there really only one drink in my glass? With water: everything mingling together. I find dates particularly prominent. Finish: long, creamy, VORSy (what?). More gravy, liquorice, marmalade, dried figs this time… It became rounder and sweeter, while all matchsticks are gone, if I may say so. Which leads us to… drum roll… Christmas cake. Comments: huge personality, many asperities as we say, and something a little, but truly, decadent indeed. No Eurovision malt whisky, if you see what I mean (S., I'm sure they don't). And hurray for Spain! Quite a coup by the Sponge, while this series is slowly coming to an end. I'd bet the future will be even better (that'll be £10, Sponge).
SGP:662 - 93 points.

Well, since we're not joking around, let's bring out the heavy artillery and steer clear of the more common (though very good) current productions…

Springbank 1977/1993 'GO-DD' (53.9%, OB, cask #332, 335 bottles)

Springbank 1977/1993 'GO-DD' (53.9%, OB, cask #332, 335 bottles) Five stars
An official private bottling of old, not too sure about what 'GO-DD' exactly means or meant, I doubt this was a bottling for the Vatican, was it? What's sure is that 1977 is a pretty rare vintage. Colour: white wine. Nose: as soon as you encounter a Springbank that's not overwhelmed by the cask, you realise the distillate hasn't changed much over the years. Essentially, it's oily, waxy, lemony, maritime, with hints of petrol and damp chalk. In short, it could just as well be a 2007/2023, and that is fascinating. With water: here comes the virgin wool, clay, grapefruit peel, seaweed, and oyster shells. Mouth (neat): splendid, tense, lemony, always with wax, salt, oysters, engine oil, and paraffin... With water: even saltier and waxier. Wasn't there a secret underground passage between old Clynelish/Brora and Springbank? Yes, of course, I do have the geographical layout of Scotland in mind, why do you ask? Finish: fairly long, oily, still on beeswax, salt, oysters, lemon, a touch of petrol... Eternal Springbank, really. It's fascinating, as our Canadian friends would say. Comments: same league as that of the Sponge, but in a diametrically opposite style. I admit, I did it on purpose.
SGP:563 - 93 points.

Springbank 28 yo 1966/1994 (55.6%, The Bottlers, cask #1018)

Springbank 28 yo 1966/1994 (55.6%, The Bottlers, cask #1018) Four stars and a half
Another one that's ticking all the boxes. The Bottlers (#1 IB at MM when they were active), 1966 (think LB), plus the ideal age and the fact that a 1965 brother did extremely well a few years back here on WF. Colour: gold. Nose: I find it curiously resinous, but this should fade away… It is also extremely waxy, piney, you'd almost believe we're nosing some (lovely) Greek retsina. Really a lot of polish. The biggish resinous side is still there after fifteen minutes, unaltered. With water: old woods, fern, old stump, mosses, mushrooms… but there's also some wonderful nougat and old sweet wine. Not retsina. Mouth (neat): awesome waxes, orange cordials, and a side that really makes you think of some old Demerara rum that would have gone a little over the top. Was this Springer matured in the tropics? In the Scottish 'tropics', near Ullapool? I mean, do you know Inverewe Garden? With water: waxes, encaustic, menthol, old apples. Finish: rather long, more on apple peel. Comments: it might have been a bit tired when it was bottled, this doesn't resemble OBE at all. But it remains wonderful once you get past the woodiness. The old waxy notes are magnificent.
SGP:461 - 89 points.

(Thank you KC )

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



Wgiskyfun 101

  Are independent whiskies becoming more expensive?

Many good people mention price differences between official malts and those from independents, with variations in both directions depending on the distilleries' reputation. As the saying goes, Springbank is not Mannochmore. Now it's important to remember that distilleries theoretically do not need to buy the whiskies they offer (although many have done so for their very old, highly prestigious malts). Larger independents mostly, if not entirely, purchase white whiskies, which they then age in their own casks. Here, too, the price is not the same, even if this practice seems to become less common, unfortunately.

Smaller independents, however, must buy their casks ready for bottling, which is significantly more expensive. To summarise, if a kilo of barley costs the same whether it's Springbank or Mannochmore, a 25-year-old Springbank cask is definitely not priced the same, whether you are the distillery's owning company or the independents of The Jolly Good Old Bottlers from John O'Groats. On the other hand, these Jolly Good Old Bottlers might offer you excellent young Mannochmore at a very good price! But don't blame them if their new Springbank is priced very high.
We will have to see how a potential new whisky loch might affect this situation. Rumour has it that 2.5 to 3 times more Scotch whisky is currently being distilled than is being sold. So, in 25 years, there could be some great deals! In theory, that is, because if India and China start increasing their consumption – India already does - our hopes as consumers might be dashed. On the other hand, this would be rather good news for all our friends.







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