I'll get directly to the point. This Springbank single rum cask couldn't be more different than the single port cask. On one hand, that sort of variety can be a great thing. The Great Whisky Experience would get really boring and writing these reviews would get really boring if everything tasted the same. Diversity is grand! Yet, sometimes that same variety yields results that aren't exactly optimal. For instance...
Type: Single Malt
Age: 13 years
Distilled: October 8, 1999
Bottled: May 22, 2013
Maturation: Fresh Rum Cask
Cask #: 307
Bottle count: 216
Alcohol by Volume: 57.1%
I love Springbank and I'm often impressed with the results from rum cask maturation, so this seemed like a perfect marriage. But apparenly, marriage is a little more complicated than that. When I took my first sniff and sip of this whisky, all I got was HOT ETHYL BURNING. Even my esophagus felt scorched. So unlike the port cask, this one wasn't consumed, er, vigorously. These notes are from a tasting six months after that first sniff.
Its color is a mild amber. The nose is hot. Ashy peat, band aids, yeast. Very little rum shows up; when it does it's as small notes of toffee and fried plantains. Wet grass and wet moss. With more than a half hour of air, the whisky finds hints of jasmine, powdered sugar, and lemon-scented bathroom cleaner. The palate, hooooooo, very tight and hot. Salt, pepper, tannins, and a green woody bitterness. Rocks and soil. A wee hint of sweetness. Flat peat and white vinegar. The finish is lengthy but not in a good way. Heat. Pepper, sand, and soy sauce.
Oooookay. How about we douse this flame a little bit?
WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose is simultaneously candied and farmy. Stickier sugars and caramels than before. Baked bread, orange peel, peat moss, and cherry lollipops. Burnt plastic. Flowers in dung. Not much change in the palate. Maybe more sweetness. Still astringent with an off bitterness. Peat getting fainter. Barley shows up. Maybe some sand. The finish is bready and beachy. The bread has been burned in the toaster. Short note of caramel. Loooooong note of bitterness.
A slight improvement on the nose. Maybe some more water is needed to open the palate up?
WITH WATER (~40%abv)
More hay and farm animals in the nose. The fruit seems to be slightly more tropical. Lavender and orange blossoms. Dove soap. The palate? *shrug* It's watery. Not much remains. Stale bread, vinegar, salt, hint of soap. Moments of peat and vanilla. The finish is a little sweeter and aromatic, less bitter. Peat-ish.
There's nothing to unlock in the palate. It's not that it's closed. There's just no there there. The nose is fine (especially with a little bit of water), saving the whisky from tanking all together. Had they not listed the fact this single malt was from a fresh rum cask, I would have guessed it was a 3rd or 4th fill puncheon.
After this tasting, I had 2.5 ounces left. An idea formed immediately. A question: Could this whisky be salvaged? Find out the answer tomorrow!
Availability - Sold out at the retailer
Pricing - €69
Rating - 74 (with just a little water)