...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Single Malt Report: Springbank 12 year old 2000 Calvados Finish

If you think I've posted a lot of high ratings these past two weeks, you would be correct.  I used to hand out four stars more generously at the start of the whisky reports, then lessened as I gained more malty experience.  Discounting my re-tries of old favorites, I'm averaging less than one 88+ report a month.  Now I'm about to give my third one in two weeks.  It's not because I'm in a super duper happy mood (which I'm not), it is because I'm a really big Springbank geek.  And of these five recently reviewed Springbanks, this one is my favorite.

Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Springbank
Age: 12 years (Apr 1997 - Oct 2012)
Maturation: refill bourbon barrels for the first 6 years
Finish: fresh Calvados casks (probably toasted French Oak) for the next 6 years
Region: Campbeltown
Alcohol by Volume: 52.7%
Limited Bottling: 9,420 bottles

From a sample purchased at Master of Malt -- served neatly in a Glencairn glass:

The color is medium gold.  The nose......from my notes: "Wow. Ripe piney peat stank." Industrial machine oil and grease.  But at the same time there's what I imagine a 120-proof Calvados to smell like, a deep strong tart apple spirit.  Behind that is some barrel char from the American oak.  Then pencil lead, rubber bands, vanilla, new sneakers, and sour apple candy.  Gets more syrupy and ashy with time.  The palate is simpler, but hits every note solidly.  Fresh apples first, then a peat wallop (something between Ardbeg and Kilchoman).  Toasty oak, vanilla creme, fresh pears, and whole grain fruit muffins.  A sharp youthful alcohol bite remains after 12 years.  A bitter-tea-meets-vanilla-bean note grows stronger with time in the glass.  Apple shisha and green grapes hit first in the huge finish.  The peat starts off light then keeps expanding and expanding.  The bitter tea notes edges its way in after a while.  More apples.  Juice from canned pears.

First off, if you don't like calvados this ain't your whisky.  I'm one of those folks who always liked calvados, but didn't know how to pronounce it correctly until last year.  It's CAL-vados, not cal-VA-dos.  I can now be a snob about that too!

Secondly, SKU from Recent Eats was right, this whisky hauls out considerable peat.  Of all the Longrows (Springbank's heavily peated brand) I've tried, only the CV (rest in peace) competes with this phenolic punch.

The price on it is plum nonsense for 12 year old whisky, but ignoring age for a moment (if we can), the quality is considerable.  The combo of high phenolics, French apple brandy, two different oaks with two different char/toast levels, and industrial grease doesn't work on paper, but it works in the glass.  It's never too sweet, too tart, nor too bitter and the seemingly disparate elements play well together.  It almost allows me to forgive Springbank for taking the shovel to Longrow CV.  Almost.

I'll be honest, I hate posting this review.  The more positive reviews this whisky gets, the already very few remaining bottles are going to vanish before I can nab one.  So a personal note to those in Southern California, DO NOT buy any more bottles of this......until I give you the green light.  'kay?  Thanks.  :-)

I'm kidding (but not really though), you so-and-sos.  Drink up.  Seriously, if you buy it, drink it.  Don't be hoarding for the apocalypse or the secondary market.  Because often the latter seems to be leading to the former.

Availability - Here and There, though more so There (aka UK)
Pricing - $105-$125 (Fuuuuuuuuuuuuu-----------)
Rating - 92