And no, not just Springbank from Sauternes casks, there’s also the Longrow and Hazelburn. These three bottles were released some five years ago for the Springbank Society. They are all about the same age, with the Hazelburn being a few months older, and from 2018 instead of 2017.
What you would expect is that a distillery, when releasing a tryptich of their products like this, would keep as many parameters the same as they can. So the same ages, same year of bottling, same cask type. But in this case none of these things are similar.
The Longrow and Springbank were drawn from fresh Sauternes hogsheads, while the Hazelburn comes from a refill cask. The Hazelburn was bottled at 10 years old in 2018, while the rest was bottled earlier at 9 years old. Of course, those details are very minor, but if you’re reading my ramblings, I dare assume you’re a nerd like me.
Anyway, tasting notes. Let’s find out how the funky Campbeltown drams hold up in sweet wine casks!
Hazelburn 10, 2007-2018, Refill Sauternes Hogsheads, 55.9% – Springbank Society
Nutty, with quite some floral hints. Violets, dried lavender, yeast and some hessian. Heather and oak too.
Quite sharp with alcohol. Quite dry with oak. Quite floral, straw like too. Comparable to the nose, but slightly more barley. Hazelnuts, brazil nuts.
The finish is, like the nose, very floral, perfumy, FWP even. It makes for a far less interesting drinking experience.
Yeah, this is not that great. It’s quite acidic for what I’m used to from Springbank distillery, although it’s not very uncommon for Hazelburn to get a little sour. The perfumy notes are not the floral notes you hope for from a good Rosebank. They’re more like the laundry detergent notes that people tend to ‘dislike’ in 80s Bowmore (to put it gently).
Springbank 9, 2007-2017, Fresh Sauternes Hogsheads, 57.1% – Springbank Society
Some vanilla and fruitiness, with sweet pastry notes. After a while more acidic, fruity notes start coming through. Grapes, and a whiff of red fruits.
The palate is fairly generic. Strong, young-ish Springbank with some sharp edges. Passion fruit, unripe mango, hessian, barley and wood.
The finish is very consistent with the palate. Dry, but slightly less sharp.
This is significantly better than the Hazelburn, although I still am not enamoured with the Sauternes casks for this distillery. In short, you spend quite some money on a bottle like this, and the regular 10 year old is a lot more enjoyable.
Longrow 9, 2007-2017, Fresh Sauternes Hogsheads, 56.3% – Springbank Society
The wine is prominent, as is the coastal whisky. Interestingly, the smokiness is very diminished. A slightly acidic fruitiness, eith things like unripe mango and green banana.
Sharp, and dry with lots of chili pepper. Some oak, lots of fruity acidity and, again, almost no smoke.
Again, quite acidic, not very long. Not very consistent, with the acidity not really cooperating with the whisky.
This is weird again. There’s some acidity like in the Hazelburn, luckily it’s not as floral. Strangely, but this might also be because the bottle had been open for quite a while, the smokiness had diminished quite a lot. Or, it might not have been as prominent to begin with. It didn’t strike me as a typical Longrow.
The summary of this can be quite short: I’ll be avoiding Springbank’s output from wine casks like this. Port and Sherry work fine, but the other stuff doesn’t. At least, not in my opinion. I seem to remember a Longrow from a Chardonnay casks that didn’t sit well with me either, and Longrow Red (the non-Port ones, that is) isn’t for me as well.