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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Single Malt Report: Springbank 16 year old 1991 Rum Wood

I'm a little surprised and disappointed by my experiences with the first two rum cask Springbanks I've tried.  Grade-wise, the first one was a low C and the second was a borderline C+/B-.  Those aren't whisky fails, but come on, this is Springbank.  My expectations are higher.  Perhaps they're too high since I'll be enjoying the excellent Springbank 12yo Calvados Wood alongside all three of the whiskies I'm reviewing this week.  Perhaps (perhaps!) what's needed is a secondary maturation approach (not a finish), like the Calvados Wood.  Then how about a 16 year old Rum Wood?  Eight years in ex-bourbon barrels, then eight years in "fresh Rum" barrels...

Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Springbank
Owner: Springbank Distillers Ltd.
Region: Campbeltown
Type: Single Malt
Age: 16 years (June 1991 - August 2007)
Maturation: refill bourbon barrels for the first 8 years, "fresh Rum" casks for the other 8
Alcohol by Volume: 54.2%
Limited Bottling: 5,100 bottles
(From a purchased sample)

The color is a light yellow gold, paler than Monday's 9yo.

The nose leads with peaches, clementines, and flower blossoms, which is a surprise after my experiences with the other two ex-rum Springbanks.  Toasted grains in the background and wee hints of brown sugar and vanilla.  Pie crust.  After 20 minutes, a bright madeira note develops.

A bit of heat on the palate.  Lots of limes and lemons.  The peat reads more roasted than smoky.  A combination of vanilla extract and tapioca pudding.  The sweetness increases with time.  Eventually notes of roses and peaches appear.

Vanilla ice cream leads off the finish.  Tart limes and lemons, that drift a bit acidic at times.  Sweet rum and a peppery heat.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose gets even fruitier, like Balblair fruity, picking up some honeydew notes.  Demerara rum around the edges.  Cow Tales candy.  Milder floral notes.

Melon, peaches, and watermelon Jolly Ranchers candy in the palate.  Hints of vanilla and toffee.  As per these notes, it gets more desserty.

The shorter, though similar, finish has louder sweeter fruit and a bit of toffee.

Whew.  A good ex-rum Springbank that works well with or without water.  I like the strong fruit notes, and can definitely appreciate the light rum touch.  The peat is barely there, so sometimes this reads a little more Highland/Speyside than Campbeltown.  It doesn't hold a candle to the Calvados Wood, but it's still a solid B-grade whisky.  It would be nice if Springbank gives this rum cask maturation approach another spin again, and not charge $200 for the result.

Availability - Scarce
Pricing - all over the place, from $180 to $350
Rating - 86

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