...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Springbank 14 year old 2002 Bourbon Wood

A new-ish Springbank! Serge Valentin, whose soul patch maintains the whiskyfun Twitter account, reviewed it. MAO, whose handlebar mustache grades students' essays, reviewed it. Now it's time for me, whose Rabbi Haddock beard helpfully saves the contents of every meal, to review it.

Unlike so many of Springbank's brands' cask strength releases. this whisky is entirely from former bourbon casks. This sort of release is likely more difficult to produce than it sounds. Too much oak influence will cause a large portion of fans to complain about the smothered spirit. Too many limp casks could result in hot, sharp, immature whisky. And with Springbank's deservedly great reputation, expectations will be high for each thing they do.

I was very lucky to get a sample of this whisky twice(!), thanks to MAO and Matt W.

Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Springbank
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 14 years (November 2002 - August 2017)
Maturation: "Fresh and Refill Bourbon Barrels"
Alcohol by Volume: 55.8%
Limited Bottling: 9000

Because I had such a nice quantity of this Springbank, I tasted a full strength and diluted (46%abv) version side by side.

46%abv - Gummi bears and peach candy. The moderate simple unobtrusive oak lets some wort and bright lemony notes shine through. There's also plastic toys, brine and some distant vanilla. Very little peat.
Full strength - Less fruit, weightier oak. Salty and a hint of something savory. Lime peel, caramel candy. A little bit papery. More heat, obviously, but also more peat.

46%abv - A little of the nose's fruit, mostly tart stuff. A creamy, vanilla side with some brown sugar. Ginger and cinnamon candy. Some heat. Woody bitterness and a surprising amount of heat.
Full strength - The alcohol burn seems to be holding back some good stone fruit. Lots of salt. Metal. Limes and lemons. A bit peppery. Acid and bitterness levels build with time.

46%abv - Tart citrus and pepper. Bitter. Some sweetness rolls in to balance things out. Medium length.
Full strength - Heat, salt, citrus and metal. A sweeter fruit element comes in late for an assist.

My tasting notes sit somewhere between Serge's and MAO's, though I hold the whisky in slightly lower esteem. Dilution is key with this one, because (for me) the goal is to push back the heat and bitterness to find that fruit. It's that bitterness and acidity that give my palate trouble. I don't mind the vanilla or caramel here because they work well with the rest. Perhaps I hold Springbank to a high standard because recent batches of their standard 10yo have been spot on, or perhaps the spirit has gotten to the point that it performs best with a little bit of sherry cask influence, or perhaps I'm full of shit.

Availability - Some specialty whisky retailers
Pricing - $100-$125 (why) 
Rating - 84 (diluted only)

No comments:

Post a Comment