That things haven’t been going to plan, hope or expectation for a while needs no explanation. The same is true for Springbank Distillery, and their planned open day. Add to that that they always select some to-be-bottled single casks for the Springbank Society, and their whole modus operandi came undone, the last two years.
They tried fixing some things with online tastings, sample packs and a massively improved webshop (but let’s be honest, anything was an improvement…).
Unfortunately, last year things went horribly wrong with my open day order with it being ordered, paid and then cancelled without any notification. No money was lost, but I lived with idle hope for a while, waiting until a package would turn up that never came.
Of course, the next time things were happening, Brexit was a thing and with the risk of ordering € 100 worth of whisky, and an extra fee being added on top of two thirds of that wasn’t worth taking.
A friend of mine, Erik H, going by ‘Erik Elixir’, did take that risk and won a ballot for this Springbank 28 years old. One of the high rollers of recent sample packs and something the tasters went rather mental about. Add to that that Erik is awesome enough to share samples from the already sample-sized bottle, it being 20cl, and you can bet I was thrilled to be able to try this.
I kept the title of the post rather short, and normally add cask types. In this case adding ‘Sherry Hogshead, Sherry Butt, Bourbon Barrel and Rum Barrel’ would have made the title a tad too long, but here’s the information anyway.
When I checked the specifics of this bottle on Whiskybase I initially got thrilled that the bottle ‘only’ costs € 320 now. An awesome lot of money, but not for a 28 year old Springbank. That was, of course, before I remembered this was only a 20cl bottle. A little bit of math puts a fill size bottle of this at € 1120.
Let’s see if it’s good enough to warrant such a hefty price tag.
The sherry plays first violin, but is not as all-encompassing as sometimes happens with sherry’d Springbanks. Although, remembering the ‘Superman’ bottling, that’s not a bad thing either…
There’s a whiff of yeast, much like aged oloroso, but with barley. It has the coastal minerality that I often find in Springbank, with hints of basalt and a whiff of brine. It is far more gentle than I expected, with rather timid notes of baked apple, cinnamon and a whiff of dates.
With a couple of minutes the expected notes of old Springbank start showing up. Overripe fruit on a bed of straw, old barley, dunnage warehouses, earthiness too. Even a whiff of coconut in the background.
The palate is very gentle too, with just a little bit of a dry oak note that brings some bite. Not even bite, more of a tingle. Quite a lot of oak, with baked apple and cinnamon. Very consistent with the nose. After about a minute there’s a slight hint of black pepper, on top of wet soil, with clay and basalt. Some mushrooms and hessian, old barley.
The finish only adds to the complexity. The basalt note of the nose is more pronounced, with sweeter yellow fruit and even a hint of banana on top of the baked apple. Straw, wet soil, hessian, the works.
I fully understand why people are so thrilled with this. What I don’t understand is why anyone is selling this stuff. Of course, there’s money to be made, but you don’t get to try whisky of this calibre that often. It is of another level. It’s not ‘Superman’ good, but it still is very, very good.
It’s really interesting to find such a blend of casks, although that’s not too uncommon for Springbank’s more aged expressions. In this case the combination of sherry and bourbon casks keep both types in check, and build on each other’s strengths. I’m not entirely sure the rum barrel adds that much to the mix, but I’m thrilled that it hasn’t added too much sweetness.
What an awesome whisky!