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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Springbank 19 year old 1997 (57%abv, for US market)

What was I saying about bourbon cask Springbanks? I forgot. Well, here's a single sherry cask Springbank that actually came to The US of A. Remember what I've been saying about magical whisky vintages? Well, don't ever buy a Springbank sherry cask from May 1997. I have had a few and they're all terrible terrible horrible you shouldn't buy them give them to me.

Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Springbank
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 19 years (May 1997 - October 2016)
Maturation: re-charred sherry cask
Outturn: 438 bottles
Bottled for: US market
Alcohol by Volume: 57.0%
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? No
(thank you to Dr. Springbank for the sample!)

The nose leads with mild bonfire smoke, seaweed and anise. Then Kit Kats (original-style), canned peaches, farmy hints, mild cigars and almond brittle. It gets peatier with time. The palate's tobacco leans more towards pipes. Roasted almonds, limes, kiwis and lychee juice floats in the midground. With time it gets more oceanic/seaweedy, then some industrial greasiness slips in. Equal parts salt/tart/sweet throughout. Lots of limes and kiwis in the long finish, as well as roasted salted almonds, earth and wood smoke.

DILUTED TO ~50%abv, or ¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Just those few drops of water pulls everything in the nose together in a big dirty hug (The Fedora's favorite kind). Some new notes of butterscotch and lime juice appear. The smoke, tangy citrus and sweetness expands in the palate. Some soil and rocks plop in, and then the whole package gets more industrial with time. As does the finish, which also piles on the soil, stones and fruits.

Two thoughts about this excellent official Springbank single sherry cask. Firstly, three years ago many of us balked when these 19 and 20 year old single casks arrived in the US bearing $300+ price tags. And these bottles could still be easily tracked down at the beginning of 2020. But the market caught up, possibly influenced by this year's cognitive assault, and now these bottles have made their way to the secondary market. Secondly, this whisky succeeds because the cask has only a moderate influence on the spirit it had held. The fluid is dark, conjuring images of oak stuff and raisins, but instead earth and juicy fruits hold their ground.

Availability - Probably sold out in the primary market
Pricing - around $300 in the primary market, higher in the secondary
Rating - 90