A rather old bottling of Springbank 21. According to Rob at De Whiskykoning (I’ve been mentioning him and his shop a lot, lately) “the best whisky ever made“. He apparently has a few cases of it on his ‘retirement pallet’ in his little warehouse.
Anyway, this was the penultimate release of Springbank 21 with another one in 2004. After that it went quiet around Springbank, especially the 21. Until the rerelease in 2011 that was. There’s about as much time between these releases, but the last two years they’ve done an annual one and since 2004 they’ve changed about everything: labels, boxing, bottles and, most importantly, style.
By the colour of it I’d say there are more sherry casks in this blend than in the modern ones. Other than that we can’t say much since little information is given.
It’s surprisingly fresh at first, with peaches among other tropical fruits. Mostly the standard combination of peaches and plums. It also has that old fashioned farmy Springbank note with wood and something musty added to it. It’s full and creamy with caramel, fudge and milk chocolate.
The palate is a little bit sharp at first but still the full richness as expected by the nose. The caramel has turned a little bitter here but not overly so. Fudge here again, but the farmy note turns more to hay. The fruit is still present but more subdued with the bitterness changing the peach to peach stones. Mind you, the bitterness is not overpowering at all, but a rather nice touch to the complexity of the whisky.
The finish is long and full, with bitter fruit like star anise. The hay, oak and caramel are back as well. Wood, fudge, and some more straight forward sherry notes.
This whisky is an excercise in balance. Apart from the fact that I would ‘like’ to taste something like this at cask strength, I can’t even find that a fault since at 46% it is so utterly delicious. The complexity is stunning and there is something new to find at every sniff or sip.
If you can try a whisky like this at some point, please do yourself a favour and do it. It’ll set you back a rather significant amount of money (€ 400-500 or so at least), but it’s worth it.
Springbank 21, 1998 release, mostly available in auctions where prices are climbing rapidly over the last year or so.