What’s up Pandas! We’re in for a treat today. We are truly lucky to be able to get my hands on this bottle I would be tasting today from the craft distillery with a cult following - Springbank. This expression embodies the quintessential taste of Springbank.
Springbank is a Campbeltown distillery with a disproportionate fan following relative to its size. The distillery produces three different labels of single malt: (1) the Longrow label is heavily-peated, (2) the Springbank label is rich, oily and gently-peated, and (3) the Hazelburn label that is light, sweet and completely unpeated.
The bottle we would be trying today is from the Springbank label’s core range. To learn more about Springbank Distillery, check out this in-depth write-up on how Springbank gets its flavour profile.
Distributor: Original Bottling (OB)
Classification: Scotch Whisky
Style: Single Malt
Cask: Ex-Bourbon, Ex-Sherry
Age: 12 Year Old
Abv: 55.4% (Cask Strength)
Behind the Label
The Springbank label’s core range of whiskies come in a distinctive but very basic array of solid colours, just like Power Rangers. Orange for the 10 Year Old, red for the 12 Year Old, green for the 15 Year Old, purple for the 18 Year Old and gold for the 21 Year Old.
Springbank’s core range of whiskies
Today we have ourselves the 2nd one of Springbank’s core. The red-labelled 12 Year Old is always bottled at cask strength, and matured in different ratios of bourbon and sherry casks. This particular 2021 edition is evenly 50% matured in bourbon and 50% matured in sherry. Bottled without artificial colouring and without chill filtration. It is also released in two batches every year- one in January and one in August.
Springbank Distillery is run by purists who are focused on traditional production values and craftsmanship. The distillery is not one to constantly market new expressions. It just lets its whisky do the talking. Check this distillery write-up to learn all about Springbank Distillery.
In the glass, a burnished gold colour similar to pancake syrup.
On the nose, a surprisingly intense and colourful bouquet that does not overwhelm the nose. The bouquet opens with a rich and strong maltiness reminiscent of McVitie’s digestive biscuits and vanilla spongecake. It develops into sweeter notes of honey, caramel and a tinge of orange peel. Malt and vanilla really takes the centre stage, with fresh orchard fruits playing a more secondary role. There is a minor component of sherried notes of raisins and preserved sour plum. The nose profile readily comes across even when the glass is held an inch away from the nose.
Slight malt biscuit muskiness and a tinge of spice builds up mid-way through nosing. This is accompanied by mild smokiness (of the sort you get from parma ham) and a very light but distinctive smell of motoroil from a petrol station.
Adding several drops of water causes the maltiness to subside, and somewhat brings the notes of raisins and plum into the foreground.
On the palate, a moderately-rich texture with some oiliness coupled with substantial maltiness. Again, notes of digestive biscuits, some honey, and some banana topped with ice cream. This develops into mildly sweet raisins, figs and preserved sour plum. There is some brininess and minerality that cuts through the sweet fruits and maltiness in an even and balanced way, and the saltiness lingers on the tongue for a decent duration. Slight drying sensation on the back of the throat.
On a second and smaller sip, I begin to somehow detect… a BBQ teriyaki sauce note? Sweetness and saltiness is combined and captured in a rich runny texture- add to that equation a component of mild smokiness and some heat - voila! Chargrilled BBQ teriyaki chicken with some burnt ends!
What comes to mind (Image Source: New York Times)
Moving on to the finish that is long with some warming spice and some refreshing spearmint. There is also a strange but pleasant mixture of lingering umami soy-sauce – similar to Brand’s Chicken Essence, and a fading motoroil aroma.
Intruged yet? You may wonder how notes of motor oil and saltiness can create a good whisky. Yet, for decades Springbank remains one of the most sought-after whiskies in whiskyland. Grab a dram to find out why!
Rich, well-balanced, complex and satisfying!
This is pretty good to enjoy straight up. However, I personally recommend pouring a second dram and slowly sipping this Springbank over the course of 3 – 5 minutes to really uncover each layer. Let the whisky breathe a little for at least 3 minutes and the alcohol burn gets down to a more manageable level. This lets you get at the more nuanced “teriyaki sauce” flavours I was talking about.
Well-crafted, well balanced and a robustly-flavoured dram that serves as a great introduction to the unique slight motor oil-evocative flavours of Campbeltown
With its harmonious blend of sweetness and savouriness, this whisky should really be enjoyed with some mild flavoured smoked meats with a sweet glaze. This would wonderfully complement some smoked duck with figs.
(Image Source: @Cookniche on Instagram)