Springbank 12 Port Pipe

107701-bigDistillery: Springbank
Bottled: 2015
Age: 12 years old
ABV: 58.3%
Cask: Port Pipe (full maturation)
More Info: WhiskyBase

You don’t see many single cask full maturation port pipe whiskies! This is a limited release of 696 bottles from earlier this year and I couldn’t resist grabbing a sample.

Nose: Very atypical. Joss sticks, deodorant, dry grass, cloves, peach skin, orange essential oil, and vodka with cranberry juice.

Palate: Oily, salty toffee. Quite sharp to start (water helps). As it calms down, it gets fruitier with prunes and dried cranberries. There’s a flicker of blueberry muffin, then smoke, tar and oil mixed with bitter dark chocolate and cloves.

Finish: Long and dry, with cinnamon, salt and pepper.

This is a challenging one, but worth persevering with (and hey, what do you expect from a single cask!).

Full term port pipe maturation has imparted some interesting fruit and spice notes. The Springbank coastal elements still come through with the oily sweet smoke you expect and yet it’s still quite savoury and dry.

It took me a while to “get” this dram but it’s definitely got its charms. A bargain at around £60 RRP but scarcity on the secondary market’s doubled the price 😦

Andy’s Pick ‘n’ Mix

Thanks to Andy for these samples. I drained these ages ago but I’ve finally typed up my tasting notes…!

Producer: Hamish Robertson & Co
ABV: 43%
Age: 5 years old
More Info: Master of Malt

These are always fun – a blended whisky from the 1960s. You can find bottles like this on a lot of auction sites and they tend to sell for a lot less than you might imagine, taking a backseat to all the high flying single malts.

Nose: Malty caramel, candle wax,  menthol, and pears. A gentle floral edge develops after a while.

Palate: Syrupy! Very rich and rounded malty flavour with more menthol and a little pepper mint.

Finish: Quite short with black pepper.

This, as with many blends, is all about the core malt flavour. It’s soft and sweet, like nectar with no hard edges or dominating notes. Very drinkable and smooth, much moreso than modern low-end blends where the malt content has dropped dramatically since the 1960s.

 

Royal Culross 8 year old Blended Malt 1972

Distillery: Glen Scotia
ABV: 43%
Distilled: 1972
Age: 8 years old
More Info: WhiskyBase

Don’t know a great deal about what’s in this, besides it being put together by the Glen Scotia distillery in Campbeltown in the seventies…

Nose: Orchard smells of ripe apples and pears, with desserty notes of custard. There’s a dessert-wine character to the aroma too – sweet juicy grapes.

Palate: Very appley. Tart and crisp cider, with cinnamon spice and ripe barley grain. Reminiscent of Irish whiskey, with a gristy, unmalted barley note.

Finish: Toasted nuts and warm oak with a lingering apple edge and a touch of pepper spice.

I wonder if there’s any Macallan in this… Very nice malt, and quite three dimensional for a blend.

 

Longmorn 20 Year Old Single Cask

Distillery: Longmorn
Bottler: Whisky Broker
Bottled: 2012, Distilled: 1992
ABV: 55%
Age: 20 years old
Cask: Sherry Hogshead
More Info: WhiskyBase

Good old Whiskybroker. You can get some very nice whiskies (by the cask, as well as by the bottle) at very reasonable prices indeed. This one’s a sherried Longmorn.

Nose: Orange candy, pine resin, pencils, barley mash, freshly ground hazelnuts and a pinch of ginger.

Palate: Crystalised white grape sugar, malty bread, and toasted oak with rising nutmeg and anise spices. Becomes drying and fruitier with water – a plummy note comes through.

Finish: Tingly and peppery.

Great nose on this, and the palate gets better with water. At 55% ABV it’s a little too fierce but maybe watered down to 45%-50% and it’s perfect.

 

Springbank 19 year old (Master of Malt)

Distillery: Springbank
Bottler: Master of Malt
Bottled: 2012, Distilled: 1993
ABV: 55.2%
Age: 19 years old
More Info: WhiskyBase

I love an indy bottling of Springbank! MoM’s single cask bottlings usually sell out quickly and have a good reputation for quality cask choice.

Nose: Sticking plasters, cough syrup, and leather with smoked caramel and pebble beach.

Palate: Oily, sweet, and salty with rich malt and cinder toffee. Cinnamon in custard, with a slow-rising, lip-tingling chilli oil burn.

Finish: Oak and smoke, with hazelnuts.

Balls to salted caramel latté – if you want an oily, malty, coastal zing then this is the whisky for you. My word, do they know how to do whisky at Springbank. Another cask well chosen, chaps!

 

Caol Ila G&M 2001 Cask Strength

Distillery: Caol Ila
Bottled: 2013, Distilled: 2001
Bottler: Gordon & Macphail
ABV: 59.2%
Age: 12 years old
Cask: Refill sherry butts
More Info: WhiskyBase

Gordon & Macphail have a ridiculously large catalog of whiskies. One of Scotland’s oldest independent bottlers, they’re still owned and managed by the Urquhart Family. Well worth a look at their offerings, and the prices are usually very reasonable.

Nose: Beach bonfire, salty clifftops, sawdust, motor oil, buttery kippers.

Palate: Coal dust, cough drops, with custard creams and sweet milky fudge.

Finish: Salty black liquorice.

Yummy – great coastal peat notes here. No citrus, which is unusual for Caol Ila. Tasting blind I think I’d have pegged this as an Ardbeg – that coal dust flavour’s really full-on, like you’ve actually licked a coal scuttle.

 

All done! Thanks again, Andy – some cracking drams there.

Springbank 12 Cask Strength 2015

Distillery: Springbank
Bottled: 2014
Age: 12 years old
ABV: 53.2%
Cask: 70% Sherry 30% Bourbon
More Info: WhiskyBase

I have to say, I’m struggling to find a Springbank expression (official or independent) that I don’t like. Always loads of solid coastal smoke notes without being overly maritime or medicinal plus a few unusual hints of other things for good measure.

I’m an Islay man, when it comes to whisky, but those Campbeltown distillers are doing an excellent job turning my head…

Nose: Leathery and damp with coastal salt and rocks aplenty. Dry moss, nettles, salty lime skin (possibly with tequila?). A soothing waft of warm butter with dry wood smoke.

Palate: Oily, malty, and salty with sweet dark honey and spicy smoke rising. Mulled spices and chilli peppers. Big Red cinnamon chewing gum.

Finish: Spiced Maple syrup and black pepper.

Another winner for my money, and excellent value to boot. All the oily coastal smoke but with plenty of other notes giving it depth and interest.

This year’s Springbank 12 Cask Strength is available on Abbey Whisky for £45.50 – bargain!

Springbank Sherrywood 17

Distillery: Springbank
Bottled: 2015, Distilled: 1997
Age: 17 years old
Bottles: 9,120
ABV: 52.3%
Cask: First-fill and refill sherry butts
More Info: WhiskyBase

Over to Campbeltown this week for the newly released and much-sought-after sherrywood 17 from Springbank.

Typically, I expect an oily coastal mix of salted-caramel and gentle smoky peat from Springbank but it’s not often you see an expression from them that’s matured full-term in sherry casks so I’d imagine that’s going to knock the typical flavour profile far beyond recognition and into a whole new adventure…

Nose: Acrylic paint, dry paper, salty pork crackling, tangerines in syrup, coal-tar soap, nettles and damp moss.

Palate: Mouth-coating with juicy peaches, gooseberries, raspberries, white grapes and elderflower cordial with a rising soft and tangy smoke through the middle. Develops further into crystallised orange peel with grapefruit.

Finish: Sea salt and burnt caramel with gentle wafts of toasted oak and soft smoke.

Water: Reduces the fruit and increases the smoke.

Mmmm, now this is a lovely, (and atypical) sherried whisky. The nose is very savoury and meaty with a coastal edge, and the palate has some excellent fruit notes rising on a core of gentle smoke and oak-spices.

The fruit notes, rather than developing towards the dark grape flavour profile (plums, raisins, cherries, christmas cake, chocolate, etc), lean towards the light grape flavour profile instead. It’s still an oily mouth-coater, but it’s more about the lighter and fresher flavours than the dark and rich ones.

This is a very appealing and intriguing dram after trying so many other delicious (but ultimately predictable) sherried whiskies.

Well done to Springbank for keeping things interesting!

You can order a 6cl sample of the Springbank Sherrywood 17 from WhiskySite.nl for €12.49 – take advantage of the favourable exchange rate if you’re in the UK!