Springbank - Part 2
Part two of my Springbank coverage. No long introduction this time, just a delve into my whisky cabinet for both bottles and a samples of discontinued and limited release Springers. Big shout out to those who generously furnished me with samples.
Springbank C.V. (discontinued) - 46%, natural colour, NCF
A vatting of 7, 10 and 14 year old malts matured in bourbon, sherry and port casks. This sample came from my good friend Paddy Doherty who bought this for a bargain €33 while on holiday (remember those things?).
Colour: Bright Gold
Nose: Straight up Campbeltown funk. Coastal shale, damp moss, subtle ashy smoke and soot. Almond, eucalyptus and cask char. A touch of natural yoghurt too. Citrus zest, vanilla fudge and fruit salad sweets.
Palate: Nice texture to this. Not overtly sweet on arrival although there is honey, malt and some sherry overtones of orange peel and raisin. Salted butter, sea spray, an oily rag and soot. Pepper spice too.
Finish: Medium length with smoked lemon, grapefruit and copper.
Springbank 8 year old Fresh Sherry (2019) - 56.8%, natural colour, NCF
Bottled for the 2019 Campbeltown Festival from fresh sherry casks and priced at, I believe, £75 on release although you can part with £400 if you want to get your hands on a bottle online. Pure greed but the nature of Springbank on secondary markets these days. Thanks to Kieran (@whitstablewhisky) for the sample!
Nose: An immediate sherry hit. Dark manuka honey, dried berries, raisins, medjool dates, new leather and fresh tobacco leaf. Candied orange and toffee apple. Sherry soaked peaches too. Cinnamon toast and nutmeg. Marzipan. But where's the Springbank? Water brings out dark chocolate, more tobacco and a some menthol.
Palate: Very sherry forward like the nose. Burnt sugar, dates, california raisins and orange zest. Praline and marzipan. Cinnamon snaps followed by a firm alcohol kick. Then dark chocolate and toasted hazelnuts. Water brings out some Springbank minerality but the cask dominates still.
Finish: A little short truth be told. Some fresh ginger heat and still lots of sherry influence.
Springbank Local Barley 9 year old (2018) - 57.7%, natural colour, NCF
Bottled October 2018 and made using Optic Barley from High Cattadale Farm. Matured in 80% bourbon casks and 20% sherry casks and an outturn of 9700 bottles. This cost me £100 from Fairley's in Coleraine.
Colour: Rapeseed oil
Nose: The bourbon influence is strong here. Cream soda, caramel and toasted oak. A menthol element alongside subtle maritime notes of fresh oyster, brine and beach bonfires. Some light tar, limestone and citrus peels. Lots of cereal here too. Water highlights the sherry a little more with fig rolls and milk chocolate coming through.
Palate: Oily and creamy on arrival. Smoked lemons, lime wedges, pink grapefruit. The sharp citrus wraps the side of your tongue before being followed by nectarines, honey and green apple. Salt follows - sea spray and salted peanuts. Now dirty - ash and soot develop. A chalky minerality appears too. Pepper, digestive biscuit and little more lemon for good measure. Water again brings the sherry into play with fruit and nut chocolate bars.
Finish: medium to long with black lapsang tea, vanilla pods and lemon peel.
Springbank 17 year old Madeira Wood - 47.8%, natural colour, NCF
Matured in a combination of rum & bourbon barrels for 14 years before being transferred to fresh madeira casks for a further 3 years. 9200 bottles on release. This cost me £100 from Fairley's in Coleraine. Again secondary prices are mental.
Colour: Bright Copper
Nose: A burst of cherry menthol, fresh strawberries and blueberry muffins. Toasted walnuts, toffee, fruit and nut cake. Dusty sawn oak and dunnage warehouses. Peppermint, diesel oil, clay and sea salt. Fresh and vibrant.
Palate: Very sweet up front. Madeira, caramel, strawberry and rum soaked raisins. This is tempered by toasted nuts, black peppercorns, ginger and spicy oak. Waxy and salty with some creosote and bonfire smoke.
Finish: Actually quite short which is disappointing - pepper, oak and gentle smoke.
I had previously read reviews expressing disappointment with the C.V. and while it was a pretty simple and straight forward expression it was well crafted and flavourful and actually quite balanced. For the money I thought it was a steal. Probably very hard to find at €33 a bottle again I'd say considering the Springbank frenzy we see today. Anyway I'm very happy to have tried it.
The Campbeltown Festival bottling was a fine whisky but a bit like the 21 year old it was difficult to recognise it as a Springbank as the fresh sherry casks totally dominated the spirit in my view. Yes, cask dominant but still a fun expression though.
The Local Barley 9 year old was just yummy stuff altogether. I think the 80/20 Bourbon/Sherry maturation were just the right proportions and led to a really well balanced dram. The palate followed the nose really well and adding water just brought out more complexity. Superb stuff, just wish I had another bottle but I console myself with the fact I was probably very fortunate to get one at all.
One word sums up the Madeira Wood expression: Solid. Thankfully the madeira didn't totally wipe out the Springbank character. While there is a nice interplay between sweetness and savoury and that industrial funk from Springbank for me the biggest let down is the finish which is just too short to make this a memorable dram. Certainly it's not the first Springbank I reach for when I sift through the cabinet which I reckon says it all.
Springbank C.V. - 7 out of 10
Springbank 8 year old Fresh Sherry - 7 out of 10
Springbank 9 year old Local Barley - 8 out of 10
Springbank 17 year old Madeira Wood - 6 out of 10