In my humble view, Springbank is an indicator of quality. I am not sure if they even know how to produce bad Whisky. Anyway, let’s check out a large part of their standard range today. Sadly I am missing the “Local Barley” ones, which sound extremely nice.
Springbank 10YO (46%): Springbank used to have such amazing label but these new ones are quite weird, don’t you think!? Anyway… Nose: Quite musty with roasted peanuts, sour apples, a herb here and there, dough and yeast (as stupid as it might sound), bitter oranges, hay, barley and we could go on but really shouldn’t. Why? This is a straightforward Whisky with incredibly many layers to it. Again, that probably does sound stupid but if you’ve had it you’ll know what I mean. Palate: Very creamy and heavy, which is relatively rare at 46% and this age. I get sesame, humus, non-sour citrus, quite some spices and now again some elements of the dough/ yeast combination. On top of that a slightly salty, even maritime note. Great stuff. With this one I like how the palate is so different from the nose. Finish: Nice and quite long with salty dough, spices (vanilla, cinnamon), and oak. A great Whisky at a great price. What more can you ask for? (87/100)
Springbank 12YO Cask Strength Batch 16 (56,3%): 70% Sherry cask and 30% Bourbon casks have been blended here. So several barrels, yet they still call it cask strength… hmm!? Anyways, I have tried previous batches and they were always good. Nose: Way smokier/ saltier and more maritime than I expected. Next to that chocolate, marzipan, more wood than you usually get from your 12YO, vanilla, pepper/ chilli and what many people would dub ‘botanicals’. I really like this kind of Whisky, yet previous batches gave me a bigger ‘wow-effect’. The palate is rather spicy, with smoked salt, many of the typical Sherry notes (dried fruits, leather, gorp), chocolate, roasted peanuts, more and more salt and some sort of dry honey and orange mix. The marzipan is still there, could be a bit more prominent for my liking though (I do love marzipan). In a sense it is a bit closer to cocoa or coffee now. Finish: Quite long with salted oranges, roasted peanuts and dry wood. A very good dram I am having right here, yet it is a Whisky that used to be even better in my book. (86/100)
Springbank 2002 14YO (55,8%): I managed to squeeze in a vintage bottling as well. Great, eh!?. Nose: Quite mineral and heavy on vanilla. I’d also call it slightly chalk-y with plenty of dust and sand-like notes. Quite the weirdo but it is also really nice in a way. You just cannot deny its quality even though it all doesn’t seem to add up at first. Then malt, old rubber (as in almost non-existent), Rooibos and some citrus. Palate: Rather strong and impetuous but you quickly get used to it. Then the sand and gravel like notes (hey you little summer mountain-biker), seabuckthorn, apricot, minerals, vanilla, oak and turbo fuel. Good stuff, actually, even though I just cannot fall in love with it. Finish: Unfortunately a weak point here as it is rather short. I get paparika, pepper, nutmeg and dusty oak. It’s actually rather nice, it just flies away too quickly. So yeah, it is a good Whisky but with Springbank it seem to be all about barrel variety, this one is solely ex-Bourbon. I don’t mind that at all, but I was expecting a bit more here. (84/100)
Springbank 15YO (46%): Nose: More wheat and oat than we are used to with Springbank. Behind that citrus, sour apples, milk chocolate, hay and some “fresher” notes which I cannot really ascribe. I must say that I didn’t like the initial nose but a few minutes in the glass have improved it a lot and I am really starting to like appreciate it now. Palate: Very mild and while 46% really isn’t a lot I might have mistaken it for less than that even. I get a combination of citrus and barley, paired with a continental fruit basket, corn and some roasting aromas. This is a rather simple, yet highly sippable Whisky and I am finishing my sample faster than I’d like. That’s a good sign I guess. Finish: Dry, medium long and extremely boring unfortunately. This is a lot of nothing if you want. All in all it is a good, solid Whisky but I am missing this certain something that would convince me entirely and that would sperate it from its competitors. (81/100)
Springbank 21YO (46%): Their flagship standard bottling if you will. For this one they’ve also used mainly ex-Rum casks (70% if I remember correctly!). May there be some Guyana influence here!? Nose: Not very rummy at all. But it is extremely nice, so what!? It’s rather sweet with caramel, salted peanuts, plenty of wax, bath salt, cooking banana, citrus zest and… Sherry cask maturation like aromas – quite odd I think. I love it, it is just… where’s the rum? Fine, I’ll stop. Palate: Oh my gosh it is good. Extremely oily (olive and sesame) with impressions of a bonfire at the beach including the smoky, maritime and BBQ elements. It now actually reminds me a bit of a certain rum with an Islay Whisky finish (review is soon to come). Other impressions include, but are not limited to, banana, minerals, waxes, some diesel or engine oil, burnt marshmellows, caramel, charcoal and sweet pickles. This is some great Whisky! Finish: Long and just oh so pleasant with the marshmellows, waxes, wood and spices. Yummy, just yummy. (91/100)