The Whisky Show 2021, Part 8/11: Springbank

Following on from Part 7,….

Springbank doesn’t usually appear at whisky shows. It doesn’t need to. It’s great to see them at THE Whisky Show, however, perhaps in light of the absence of the Campbeltown Malts Festival since the ‘C-ituation’.

In many respects, this feels like a New & Forthcoming tasting, in keeping with Springbank’s annual event [WLP]. Grant MacPherson who actually chose the line-up, couldn’t make it. Our six-dram tasting is instead hosted by Director of Sales & Marketing, David Allen.

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[Springbank] Hazelburn 21yo [2021] Un-Ob. Batch Sample 49~50%

I last tried 21yo Hazelburn in 2019 [WLP86], but preferred more the standard triple-distilled 10yo in 2020 [WLP288]. We are the first public audience to try this batch sample of the new 21yo, due for release in May 2022 [at a bottling strength of 46%].

  • N: The nose alone reminds me of how much I love Hazelburn. Unlike Springbank itself, you could always find a bottle or two left over after a Campbeltown cull, but not now since everything went [ballot-] crazy. With a lovely crisp saltiness on top of the ice cream and barley sugar, there is a [70% sherry casks] sulphury note. 
  • T: The slightly butyric salty toasted sweet arrival is ideal. Bit of a shame then about the direct sulphury oloroso [?] influence thereafter.
  • F: Light finish in line with Hazelburn’s triple-distilled spirit, we’ve a barley sugar conclusion with yet more sherry ‘noise’.
  • C: Expectations are understandably high when it comes to Springbank, but there’s no getting away from it. Here, the oloroso [slightly] overpowers the spirit. Still, it’s a strong start.

Scores 86 points

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Springbank 21yo [2020] Ob. 46% WB89.37[282] WF88

I last tried Springbank 21 in 2018 [WLP87]. This is last year’s bottling [2020] that consists of 30% bourbon, 30% rum, 25% sherry, and 15% port casks, married together for one year.

  • N: What an immaculate blend of casks that is. Beautiful nose, salty again.
  • T: Desirable dryness,.. clean, complex,.. slightly rubbery though with less ‘funk’ than you might sometimes find/expect with Springbank. Again, cask blend-wise, there’s a harmony here. Take note though, I didn’t find this the greatest swimmer.
  • F: More funky vibes towards the tail with a dense/packed-in spiciness which would no doubt loosen up with time in glass and bottle. Little of the smoke/phenols have survived those 21+ years.
  • C: The cleaner side of Springbank,.. until the sherry kicks in at the end.

Scores 88 points

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Springbank 21yo [2021] Un-Ob. Batch Sample 48~50% [WLP87]

This is destined to be Springbank’s next 21yo, due for release in 2022. It consists of a cask mix comprising 30% bourbon, 35% port, and 35% sherry, and will be officially bottled at 46%.

  • N: More of Springbank’s inimitable funkiness shows with this higher-strength sample, perhaps the higher wine [sherry & port] influence contributing to that too. Overall, however, this seems less cask-driven than the first two malts with more of the phenolic/farmy side coming to the fore. ‘Classic’ Springbank vibes overall.
  • T: Sugary saltiness into a toasted maltiness. Again, it’s far less grape-driven than the previous two offerings,… more ‘natural’/barley-faithful. 
  • F: Though just a little rubbery [perhaps also from the previous two drams], we’ve a more active bourbon-y waxy ‘boing’ to finish. 
  • C: More of a classic Springbank profile overall, though the nose of last year’s 21yo is still firmly resonating. Though batches differ and are to be celebrated, quality at Springbank rarely wavers. Extraordinary. 

Scores 89 points

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Springbank 29yo [2021] Un-Ob. Batch Sample abv unknown

Whisky #4 currently sits at a whopping 29 years old and will come of age [30] next year. As such, this is a world premiere of Springbank’s forthcoming 30yo, due for release in 2022.

  • N: This one is more oily, bourbon-y,… austere even, than the more winey sherried malts gone before.
  • T: Same again really, a refreshingly ‘straight’ delivery with a [slightly unripe] melon fruitiness, in comparison to the previous grape-y offerings.
  • F: More on the melon-y waxy cellulose vibes,.. a touch vacant at the tail. Feels like it was the right time to bottle this one. I can’t see it necessarily improving, not that it’s over-baked whatsoever.
  • C: It’s a wee while since we saw a new Springbank 30yo [WB – 1999??]. Not dissimilar to those mature Glen Keith’s [WLP], I know it’s good but I can’t pinpoint exactly why [in this restricted environment]. Perhaps it’s time for lunch.

Scores 88 points

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[Springbank] Longrow 21yo [2019] Ob. [3600 bts] 46% WB89.06[289]

Warming us up for a new & exclusive 21yo Longrow is this 2019 100% sherry-matured release.

  • N: Pickled olives, phenolic plasters,… an OBE vibe too! 
  • T: Despite the ‘100% sherry’ tag, the cask influence is unobtrusive. It’s all barley juice with consolidated briny phenols that have retained their vibrancy at this fine age with just the right amount of sherry influence to make one think of slightly peated Hazelburn [more than sherried mildly-peated Springbank]. 
  • F: Briny, dry, and puckering. It’s now the sherry that has its say, underpinning the finish more than the spirit. “It’s not NOT avocados”, is one of the more enjoyable comments I overhear.
  • C: These Campbeltown malts are so densely packed, it’s hard to get your head around them in a short space of time. Every one of them has their own individual qualities and all are to be celebrated in their own right. After all, no other distillery comes close to producing this style of malt.

Scores 88 points

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[Springbank] Longrow 2000/2021 21yo Un-Ob. single [rum] cask sample +/-45%

Due for release next year, we finish with a sneak preview of a UK-only single cask Longrow from a rum cask – distillery unknown.

  • N: Peach melba eau de vie? This one’s a curio, reminding me somewhat of that all-spirit non-make-y 1966 Highland Park [WLP].
  • T: Tastes as it smells with a heavy “driving” phenolic underbelly,… “it drives”,…. “like Senna”, someone cries.
  • F: The sooty [not make-y] spirit theme continues, cellulose-y all the way through and concluding briny yet dry-ish with a lime & melon-sweet smokiness.
  • C: A very different Longrow to others I’ve tried, the softer maturation [over 21 years] allowing the complexities of Longrow’s peatiness to show itself off.

Scores 87[+] points

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A fantastic tasting and well priced too [at £60]. Next up, I continue the theme with a few more Springbank’s from Adelphi [in Part 9].

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END

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Campbeltown harbour 2018

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