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Monday, March 28, 2016

Single Malt Report: Springbank 9 year old 2001 Demerara Rum Cask by Cadenhead

In honor of my 900th(!) post, I'll be doing a week of Springbank.  Because.

At some point last year, one of y'all commenters referenced something about seeking out rum cask Springbanks.  Well, I reviewed one last May and that did not go positively.  How about we try again with TWO rummy Springbanks in a row?

The first is this single cask of 9 year old Springbank matured entirely in a Demerara rum cask, which was probably an ex-bourbon barrel judging by the bottle count.  It was released by Cadenhead, an indie bottler who has the same ownership as......Springbank!  So the hope is Cadenhead would have a leg up on the honey casks.

Distillery: Springbank
Region: Campbeltown, Kintyre
Independent Bottler: Cadenhead (their website never works)
Range: Wood range
Type: Single Malt
Age: 9 years old (2001 - October 2011)
Maturation: Demerara rum cask (which may have previously been an ex-bourbon barrel)
Limited bottling: 228
Alcohol by Volume: 57.1%
(Many thanks to Lee Zaro for this sample!)

A sticky young rumminess shouts out first in the nose.  That's then joined by estery florals and pear eau de vie.  A medium molasses note meets a hint of peat.  Golden Delicious apples and granulated sugar.  It's very bright, but it's mostly new distillate of some sort.

The tight simple palate starts of mostly as peppery ethyl heat.  Raw new make, all grassy, sweet, and floral.  Then some salt and a little more smoke than on the nose.  A little bit of vanilla bean in the background.

The finish is mostly apple eau de vie and floral esters, a soft bitterness, and a nudge of peat.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
On the nose, the eau de vie switches over to kirschwasser.  Maybe even something like peated cherries.  Then a little bit of caramel, molasses, and cassia cinnamon.  Some cereal notes finally peek through.

This is curious.  Tea?  The palate takes on a grassy macha-like note, as well as a grassy-but-bitter roasted mate note.  The peppery heat remains, but there's more sugar this time and just a hint of malt.

The finish is almost identical to its neat form.  Maybe with a little more pepper, but otherwise quieter.

This is the youngest Springbank I've ever had in terms of character, not in terms of numbers.  I'm not entirely sure why they bottled it at this point, but luckily I like eau de vie and other unaged brandies.  I recommend at least trying it with water.  The nose is the highlight, by far.  The odd tea stuff in the hydrated palate sort of works for me, but will likely not work for everyone.

Speaking of everyone, the online tasting notes for this whisky vary so widely it seems like everyone's drinking something else.  See Serge's notes, the whiskybase crowd's notes, and the official ones.  The only set I can relate to are the writeups by the two German whiskybase fellows.  But I will agree with Serge in that this whisky is a curiosity.

Availability - Scarce
Pricing - well over $100 at this point in time
Rating - 80 (I suppose)

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