Springbank Tasting at The Oak Barrel, Sydney, 15 February 2023. Whisky #3.
Tasting of a bottle from batch 14/04/22.
Nose: An immediate aroma of sherry, with dried fruits, toasted walnuts and violets in the background. Warm, rich and deeply floral tones with evolving malt and treacle. A dash of water and some time to rest brings forward a soft tarry, maritime and mineral facet that is quintessentially Springbank.
Palate: Warm, blanketing and creamy in the arrival, this textural quality persists through into the aftertaste. Dates, plums and that almost apricot flavour you get from the finest grade of semi-dried white Greek figs. As it develops the palate gains peaty notes and a deep earthy note that is reminiscent of damp forest-floor humus and farmyards (not that I’ve ever eaten either!).
Finish: Medium. Semi-sweet and earthy with a tiny touch of lemon zest.
A very good example of Springbank 15. It's different in profile to last year’s expressions - each has features that are good and, well, less-good, but the overall level of quality is the same. This was a stand-out among the core-range whiskies on the night.
It’s delicious neat and very good with water, which develops a distinct tarry quality on the nose and brings out more peat smoke on the palate. Water does, however, also introduce a slightly drying sour note on the palate and emphasizes a slight citrus bitterness on the finish so it is up to individual taste which is the best way to take it. I preferred it with a dash of water (which is generally my preference) but the person sitting next to me much preferred it neat. Horses for courses.
… but the cost!
This was initially available (for about 5 minutes earlier this year when the allocations landed) at the recommended retail price of AUD$230, but it is now selling retail from one or two local outlets for AUD$540 or more. Utter insanity.
“Excellent” : 88/100 (4.5 stars)
[Previous review as posted on May 28, 2022]
Tasted at The Oak Barrel Springbank & Kilkerran evening, May 28 2022. Whisky #2
Tasting of a late 2021 release (sorry, did not get the lot number).
Nose: Floral (sandalwood and lemongrass), sherry, grapes, brown sugar, earth, apple skins, balsamic vinegar, coffee. The nose is less forceful than previous batches but it is still very good and well balanced with a full, satisfying roundness and just a breeze of peat smoke.
Palate: Vegetable oil, sherry, malt, lemon, Brussels sprouts, marmalade. The development brings in more vegetal and cereal notes with porridge, brine, ash and wet stones. Iodine (just a hint) chalk and bitter grapefruit grilled with honey. Towards the finish the angular notes tend to merge into a generalized malty profile. The texture is good – oily, creamy and velvety. A dash of water makes it almost erotic.
Finish: Medium. The palate diminishes quickly into a slightly metallic and flinty aftertaste.
The only whisky of the night that I thought truly did justice to the potential of this great distillery. Commanding at first nosing and forceful on the initial taste, it did, however, tend to lose presence on subsequent tastes. There was a touch of sulphur via an asparagus-like flavor but it was too subtle to be intrusive, and anyway it's typical of Springbank's distillate profile.
A very good whisky, but like everything I tasted tonight I thought it was unreasonably pushing the boundaries of affordability, and even if this had been available to buy I would not have spent the requisite $200+ to obtain a bottle. Oh, maybe ... I don't know. Springbank has become very expensive and we enthusiasts are at least partly to blame.
Looking on the bright side there are many other whiskies at this price point that are better, and many more that are just as good and way cheaper, so while expressions like this might be hard to find and expensive right now, we are still spoiled for choice with contemporary whisky.
“Excellent” : 88/100 (4.5 stars) [AUD$225 per Bottle in 2022]
[Original review on Distiller, September 17, 2017.]
Scotland, September 2017. Whisky #5, distillery tasting.
I've been meaning to review this for ages but it has been a while since I last had a bottle, so sitting with a dram of it in Cadenhead's tasting room in Campbeltown seems the ideal time.
The 15 is aged entirely in Sherry casks (many types) instead of a combination of bourbon and Sherry as is the case with the 10 year old. At heart it is very like the 10 year old but with a more dark-fruity and rounded character. There is also more coconut, toasted cereal, caramel and leather. The sherry influence permeates the distillate rather than covering it like a winey blanket. It's the same elegant act displayed in Old Pulteney 21 and Glenfarclas 15.
I think of the Springbank 10 and 15 year olds as being different facets of the same new-make spirit rather than an older and younger brother. The vegetal, fruity, mineral and briny notes are all still there in the 15, but there is also a more relaxed and autumnal feel. Buy a bottle and enjoy one of the great experiences in whisky.
"Excellent" : 88/100 (4.5 stars) [AUD$145.0 per Bottle in 2017]