...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Springbank 12 year old black label, bottled ca. 1990

Yes, there are some dusty-ish Springbanks in the sample stash, and I probably should consume them sooner than later. Today's whisky came from a bottle that looks something like this:

pic from whiskybase

The actual split bottle was the 46%abv version released in the USA. The black label preceded Springbank's red thistle label, and was used throughout the 1980s and apparently into the '90s. I say "apparently" because the owner of the bottle and I both thought it was from the '80s. But the bottle's label showed milliliters and ABV, which brings us to The Nineties. Distillation at Springbank took an eight year break starting in 1979, so the bottle's contents were distilled in The Seventies.

Finding the whisky's sparring partner seemed difficult at first, but for some unknown reason I had saved four(!) ounces of the 10 year 100 US proof from 2004-2006. Its apothecary bottle hadn't been opened for more than seven years but I soon discovered that its contents still kicked ass.

The sampling could then begin.

Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Springbank
Region: Campbeltown
Age: at least 12 years
Maturation: ???
Bottling Date: around 1990
Bottled for: US market
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
(from a bottle split)

The nose begins with a waft of rye-like spice notes like cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, but then comes the wool, coal smoke, wet dog and dusty books of Campbeltown. Small notes of mint candy and pineapple linger in the background, as does a clear note of well-caramelized fried plantains. The palate is "romantically unromantic" (per my notes). There's very little sweetness, though there are some dates rolling around in the midground. Up front there are stones, wool, burlap, chile oil, baking chocolate, anise and tart lemons. A bitter herbal bite shows up after some times, and the stony mineral side expands. It finishes with salt, stones, coal smoke, bitter herbs and a hint of cherry candy. The salt and minerals last the longest.

It's an autumn evening in a fishing village at a latitude north of here. And damn, a drinker could really get used to this stuff. The whisky is different than the current excellent Springbank 10 year old, leaner (I've already used "austere" once this month), darker, slightly rawer. They're probably near equals in quality and I probably should have matched those two up in my tasting. But I didn't. And the beige label 10yo 100proof was fantastic, I dare say superior to this old 12yo. *ducks seventy thrown pans* Both were spirit-forward and both immediately inspired the shorthand "old school" descriptor.

I'm not sure what this black label 12yo goes for in European auctions, but I'm going to assume the price would burn my eyeballs. But I can understand the chase. It marks history and it drinks very well.

Availability - Auctions
Pricing - ???, research it if you dare!
Rating - 89

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