Cracked this one open to kick off the weekend. I do love my Springbank, but their special releases have unfortunately become a bit of a hot commodity with those collector types, you know, the ones who will buy 2 crates of everything you can slap “Limited Release” or “Special Edition” onto and never open it because they buy whisky to *spit on floor* invest.
This was how I missed out on a bottle of Springbank’s 16 year old local barley release. I decided to wait for a sample I had on the way before buying but the stuff flew off the shelves in hours and was being flipped on auction for 3-4 times the damn retail price!
This time I was careful, I waited and jumped on it as soon as it went on sale and scored myself a bottle (just one, to drink) at retail price. This release was a bit easier to lay hands on as it wasn’t resting on the laurels of some previous release like the Local Barley, but still got a decent amount of hype.
Enough ranting, let’s address the actual subject at hand here. Springbank do quite a lot of experimentation with all kinds of cask types, sometimes there are huge, widely available releases of whisky matured or finished in various casks, like their Wood series, and sometimes it’s just a single cask bottling quietly sold off in a single market. This is the former case, and it was matured for the entirety of its 12 years in first fill Burgundy wine barrels.
I’ve often harped on here about how we’re going to see more and more experimentation with with casks as sherry (as a drink in and of itself) declines in popularity but demand for that kind of influence on whisky grows. There will always be wine so wine cask maturation for whisky is a much more viable alternative, but wine can be more finicky, certain wine types work with certain malt types, so experimentation is neccessary.
Aged 12 years. 53.5%ABV. Matured in first fill Burgundy barrels. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength.
Nose: Leathery, dirty and fruity. Red liquorice. Light spices, kind of like mulled wine. Blood orange. Light chemical smoke. Petrol. Boiled sweets. Slight nuttiness. Raisins. Silan.
Palate: Petrol. Wood oils. Spiced apple cider with wine. Cloves. Cinnamon. Copper. Light leather. Slight earthiness. Dried peaches. Yellow cherries. Slight bitter wood tannin note on the swallow.
Finish: Long. Quite spicy at first, then mellows out. Earthy, slightly sweet fruits. Citrus oils. Mild salt.
Would I buy this: Yes
Would I order this in a bar: Yes
Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes
VFM: 4/5 (At retail price)
Once again Springbank proves why they have such an excellent reputation. This was a fantastically complex and balanced whisky, immensely enjoyable to both sit and analyse and to just sip away at mindlessly. Wine casks can give whisky quite a spicy character, distinct from woodspice, it’s very much its own thing and it just works so damn well with the dirty, oily, slightly peaty Springbank character.