Dun Bheagan (distilled at Springbank) Cask No. 1704 35 year old 1970 vintage, 50.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $300
Quite fresh and appetizing for a 35 year old whisky, but not too surprising for a Springbank. Notes of creamy vanilla, burnt caramel, coconut custard, brine, and a hint of anise. Complex, vibrant, and well-balanced. Reminds me why I love those old Springers. Devotees will not be disappointed. A stunning whisky! (Exclusive to Astor Wines and Spirits.)
Jewels of Scotland (distilled at Springbank) 1965 vintage, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $400
Bottled in 2001, but still in circulation and (fortunately) just finding its way to me. These Springers from the ‘60s are getting rarer and quite expensive. This is a great example of why they are so coveted -- clean and well matured, with no sign of excessive oak. Elegant sherried fruit dovetails nicely with polished oak and a steady stream of dried spices. Look for citrus, nectarine, red licorice, coconut oil, ripe banana, and vanilla custard with warming cinnamon and brine. Warm, spicy finish. Very polished!
Antique amber color. Mature complex aromas-especially in wood spice notes. In addition to wood spices, I also found notes of roasted nuts, coconuts, orange marmalade, anise, and subtle brine. Thick and syrupy in texture, with complex flavors that echo its aroma. The depth on the palate is incredible! Long lingering finish.
Murray McDavid (distilled at Springbank) 1965 34 year old, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $200
Antique amber color. Ripe, fallen fruit aromas laced with coconut, marshmallow, and almonds. The sherry cask influence is very prominent on the nose, but the Springbank "brine" character still manages to fight through. Full bodied, with a soothing texture. Huge flavors with great balance and depth, consisting of exotic fruits, complex wood spices, brine, and coconut. Long, lingering satisfying finish.
The nose features peat, ozone, malt, sherry, mango, charcuterie, and an herbal note. Overt sherry and rum on the palate, with pineapple, caramel, worn leather, and bonfire smoke. The finish is long and earthy, with chocolate and spicy oak. (160 bottles for U.S.)
The nose is complex, with almonds, coconut, soft leather, tropical fruits, and stewed black tea. Hints of brine and peat appear. The palate is rounded and rich, with more tropical fruits, sherry, caramel, pipe tobacco, wood smoke, and spicy tannins. The finish is relatively long and creamy, with lingering smokiness. All the classic Springbank elements merge nicely here.
Chieftain’s (distilled at Springbank) 40 year old, 54%
Single Malt Scotch | $1,400
Aged in a first-fill sherry butt. Soft sherry notes, gentle toffee, golden raisin, green tea with honey, a peppering of spice (cinnamon, red and black licorice, candied ginger, hint of coconut macaroon and brine) and undertones of juicy oak (especially on the finish). Tame, somewhat seductive, and well-rounded. Not overly oaked, and I’m not finding any off notes. A lovely whisky, but not quite as dynamic as the “classic” Springbanks I’ve tasted from the 60s.
The first of five annual releases of Local Barley from Springbank. This practice revives a concept discontinued in 2001. The barley in question was grown at Low Machrimore Farm in the south of the Kintyre peninsula and was distilled in September 1999. Barley, damp earth, sea salt, and citrus fruits on the lightly peated nose. The buttery palate yields spicy peat, orchard fruits, and more earthiness, closing with smoky lemon.
Lombard Jewels of Scotland (distilled at Springbank) 21 year old 1991 Cask No. 172, 49.7%
Single Malt Scotch | $375
Aged in a bourbon hogshead, allowing the distillery character to shine through. Fresh, lively and inviting (especially for its age), with a complex array of tropical and summer fruit, peppered with brine, vanilla, and a hint of baker’s chocolate. An oily texture adds weight. Dry, deliciously appetizing finish. An excellent aperitif whisky, but enjoyable anytime. (D & M Wines and Liquors exclusive.)
The latest limited release of 21 year old Springbank has been matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. Sherry and bourbon notes are well integrated on the early nose, which follows up with succulent tropical fruits, toffee, and a whiff of earthy peat. The palate is complex, confident, and oily, with dry sherry notes, almonds, figs, vanilla, wood smoke, and a hint of the sea. The lengthy finish boasts caramel, cinnamon, brine, and soft peat. £182
Duncan Taylor (distilled at Springbank) 13 year old, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $100.00
Recently bottled by Duncan Taylor in their non-colored, non-chill filtered NC2 range, this 13 year old expression of Springbank initially exhibits tinned pears on the nose, then smoked fish cooked in butter, coconut oil, brine, and a hint of lemon. More sweet wood smoke with time, turning to char. The palate opens with profound, sweet fruit, swiftly followed by salt, lime, and medicinal notes. Lingering, with ginger in the pleasantly oaky finish. £64
A number of ‘Marrying Strength’ variants of 10 year old Springbank have been released, retailing exclusively through the Cadenhead Whisky Shop in Campbeltown. The 2014 expression is bottled at 49.9%. Brine, new leather, and pipe tobacco on the nose, with developing caramel. Maritime characteristics are accentuated with time. Voluptuous on the palate, balanced, with sweet leather, peaty spices, and apricots. Long and slowly drying in the finish, with black pepper and rock salt. Quintessential Springbank, and the best 10 year old sampled to date. £42
Released in February 2015, this cask strength expression of 17 year old Springbank has been entirely matured in sherry casks. 9,120 bottles are available globally. The nose offers sea spray, blood orange, ginger, and discreet sherry. Finally, some peat. The sherry really makes its presence felt on the palate, which is full and slightly oily, with rich fruitcake flavors, soft toffee, coffee, and ripe cherries. The finish is lengthy, slightly peaty, with more sherry, treacle toffee, and trademark Springbank ozone.
Signatory (distilled at Springbank) 1969 Vintage 34 year old, 54.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $485
Older Springbanks are becoming hard to find, and this one won't disappoint. It is packed with citrus notes (lemon, orange) often found in whiskies over 30 years old. Along with them you'll find subtle spice notes (especially cinnamon), red licorice, polished oak, and that signature Springbank fresh brininess, albeit a bit reserved. This Springbank is not as heavily sherried as some other older bottlings that have come and gone. If I wanted to be picky, I would like to see more of the Springbank briny zest and freshness here, but, giving its age, it is understandably reserved. This whisky's best feature is how surprisingly clean, rounded, and polished it is for 33 years old. Very nice.
Even with a refill sherry cask, bright fruit is the main theme to this whisky: strawberry-rhubarb pie, red raspberry preserve, red currant. But there’s honeyed malt for balance, along with suggestions of
coconut macaroon, marzipan, brine, and glazed ginger to keep things interesting. Distinctive. (U.S. exclusive)
Finished in a rum cask. Gently sweet (caramel, vanilla cream, kiss of honey), with balancing fruit (lime, kiwi, green grape) and spice (white pepper, brine). Youthful (but not immature). Invigorating briny finish. I don’t know what kind of rum cask was used, but it comes across more like sugar cane juice-based rhum agricole than the molasses-based rums. Very nice! (A Park Avenue Liquor exclusive.)
Very powerful and quite different from the 10 year old, 46% bottling reviewed below; this tastes as if it is taken entirely from bourbon oak-aged Springbank. There’s fresh brine, creamy vanilla, honey, and coconut throughout, and it lacks the waxed fruit nature of its sibling. Mouthcoating in texture, with a long appetizing briny finish. Very clean -- and quite polished too, for such a powerful whisky. My choice of the three.
Springbank 12 year old Cask Strength 2014 release, 52.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $76
This is the seventh batch of 12 year old cask strength Springbank to appear, being bottled early in 2014. Some of the component whisky was matured in oloroso sherry casks. The nose blends maritime notes with Christmas cake fruits, vanilla pods, and overt sherry. Viscous in the mouth, with cowsheds and soft peat smoke, plus spice, caramel, and a hint of sweet sherry. The no-holds-barred finish presents a big blast of smoke, root ginger, and freshly-dug peat. £45