Incredibly, it’s still Springbank’s Open Day. My final session for Thursday sees a large group of us once again pile into the cool malt barn where the Cadenhead’s Club tasting took place [blog] two days earlier. At this Directors Cut masterclass, there’s more of a post-rugby match atmosphere than at a conventional tasting, one which begins with wall-to-wall innuendos [in-your-endo’s]. Each ‘director’ presented two selected casks, none of which had been bottled at the time. Also, much of the details of these cask samples were revealed during or after trying them, so this was a half-blind tasting if you will.
Findlay Ross will get us going and ‘finish us off’, whilst Mark Watt & Ronald Watson will be sandwiched. Happy? Let’s begin.
[Springbank] Hazelburn 18/07/1997 20yo Un-Ob. Refill sherry cask 52.4% tOMoH7/10
Findley Ross introduces this as one of the oldest Hazelburn’s on site, suggesting there may be some others. Distilled in 1997, the year Springbank begun making a triple distilled whisky in the style of the long closed distillery of the same name.
- N: Really subtle, light & fluffy column-y/rum-like distillate with a crisp creamy sweetness. Notes of pineapple/peach/mango yoghurt, aromatic hessian=curry spices and a sweet [almost coastal] minerality with a little ppm hint seals the deal for me.
- T: Same lightness as the nose, coupled with a composed & fruity complexity. Appears bourbon-y and PX-y.
- F: A charmingly light-sweet bourbon-y>sherried finish.
- C: Beautiful light style of whisky. The best Hazelburn I’ve had.
Scores 90 points
Macallan 1989 29yo Un-Ob. bourbon cask #16535 44% tOMoH8/10
Mark Watt steps up. A Macallan is introduced. The room erupts, laughter follows.
- N: Snippets of poetry mingle under the shade of the ordinary. This displays slightly fusty yet vibrant [though not overtly explicit], malty-tannic floral fruits – equally tropical and confectionery.
- T: Wonderfully clean & crisp yet fusty barley juice. Becomes chewy and fatty, heading bone-dry. Ideal with a little water.
- F: Light malty conclusions with a firm creamy palate coating.
- C: This is very decent whisky, but the fact that it’s a Macallan doesn’t go to my head and the consensus around me appears shared.
Scores 88 points
Springbank 20/12/1990 27yo Un-Ob. refill oloroso cask #590 43.9% tOMoH8/10
Ronald Watson calls out the abv as 43.7% though the ad-hoc label reads 43.9%. I’m going with the label on this occasion. This is the oldest cask of Springbank the distillery presently own. There are older casks in the warehouse but they are privately owned.
- N: Whilst not particular oloroso-y. we’ve a well aged dunnage classic here, an old & rare styley fruity (pineapple) number that comes with a little sprinkle of everything. However it’s a nose that depreciates somewhat over time suggesting it’s somewhat fragile.
- T: Firm sweet-to-sour arrival with an almost Cinzano/tequila-sweet profile, but don’t let that confuse you or put you off. It’s also decidedly malty and fruity with a crisp citrus strength, the palate showing no signs of fatigue.
- F: Stretches out from the palate with honey sour sponge, though it doesn’t sustain too long. I got a coagulated oil note at the death, like I’d eaten Frazzles hours before, which I hadn’t.
- C: It doesn’t quite deliver what the nose had first promised – an age-old story – but it certainly still delivers well.
Scores 87 points
Springbank 1991 26yo Un-Ob. refill oloroso cask #232 48.7% tOMoH9/10
Ronald’s second choice, another Springbank one year on from their oldest cask.
- N: Where’s the grocer? We’ve got their worldly array of fruits. The fruity>dunnage vibe is simply the business, the nose a winner everytime.
- T: It’s good on the palate too. There’s a particular fruity soap note I’ve experienced before – it’s products from Lush! I ponder whether these two separate things would possess the same flavour molecules if measured on a molecule reader. Clearly it’s been a long and heady day.
- F: Heathery sweet, oaky creamy >sour with just the right amount of delicious malt lactose.
- C: It’s not exactly a relaxing malt experience but a little effort is certainly rewarded. A notch or two up from the 1990, given its relative solidity.
Scores 89 points
[Glengyle] Kilkerran 26/04/2007 11yo Un-Ob. Sherry butt 58.1% tOMoH7/10
I interpreted that what Mark Watt was saying, is that this will become the first independent bottling of Kilkerran.
- N: A spongey sherry malt with extra all-sorts that range from sweaty musty vegetal notes to garage oils. Thankfully the spirit just about survives all that sherry, on the nose anyhows.
- T: This is undoubtedly cask-heavy, so thank goodness they got it out of there – better late than never. The excellent official 8yo [WB] was 100% bourbon matured. The 70/30 bourbon/sherry mix of the first released 12yo Kilkerran [WB] worked an absolute treat. I’m not sure all this sherry does a great deal for the Glengyle spirit.
- F: There’s quite some travel from the palate, but I’m frankly over it by the time it finishes. It’s pretty much the cask’s previous contents speaking again, the spirit buried.
- C: Of course the horde loves it, and for £150, let them have it.
Scores 80 points
[Springbank] Longrow 11/11/1994-2018 Un-Ob. Refill bourbon cask #20 54.2% tOMoH7/10
Finally Findley ‘finishes us off’. There may be older, privately owned casks somewhere in the world, but this is Springbank’s oldest Longrow ever not bottled – which is another way of saying it’s their oldest cask of Longrow that they currently possess.
- N: A jovial chatterbox of a nose with a subtle fruity floral complexity that incorporates apple/cider/pineapple cubes, a little coastal umami/Japanese-y stock, ginger paste and some cordials & tinctures. Maybe I’m becoming immune but I didn’t pick up a great deal of smoke. This could really kick off on the palate.
- T: It shoots, it scores. Ha, joy! With these beautiful sugars I am bordering on the emotional realm.
- F: The ppm is rather mild by the end.
- C: Though the Hazelburn unexpectedly tipped it for me, I loved this. A great end to a super day.
Scores 89 points
I hope to see you all at the Whisky Exchange Show this weekend. I’ll be back reminiscing next week.