...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Single Malt Report: Springbank 30 year old 1972 Chieftain's

This was the fourth of my four pours at Bar Cordon Noir.  The only way I can properly preface this whisky is via bottle photos.

Distillery: Springbank
Bottler: Ian MacLeod
Series: Chieftain's
Age: 30 years (October 1972 - October 2002)
Maturation: Sherry butt
Cask #: 410
Bottles: 576
Region: Campbelltown
Alcohol by Volume: 57.8%

Its color is a blood orange-tinted dark gold.

I'm just going to fire out a bunch of words for the nose.  Plum wine.  Prune hamantaschen.  Cointreau.  Dark chocolate.  So much cocoa.  Baklava.  Marzipan.  Ben & Jerry's Heath Bar Crunch.  Orange oil.  Fresh cherry pie and cinnamon rolls.  A certain butterscotch budino.  More?  Yes there's more.  The peat content is very subtle, not showing up at first.  But when it does, it's a distant puff of smoke.  After an hour, the tropical fruits sashay in.  Brown sugar and cookie dough at 75 minutes.

It has a palate too.  As per my notes, "Oh dear."  Big old fat gooey pax-y sherry.  Roasty chocolate malt.  A slab of chocolate fudge chased with blood orange juice.  Chocolate with almonds and sea salt.  Mango and peach compote, but never cloying.  Hints of very old cognac.  The mustiness remains bold even after 75 minutes.

The finish delivers a shot of sherry syrup.  Milk chocolate truffles with orange zest.  More chocolate than chocolate.  Salt.  Fresh cherries.  Just that whisper of smoke.  Plenty of power after thirty years in a big butt and twelve years in a bottle.

I dub thee King, oh Springbank 30 year old 1972 sherry butt #410 from Chieftain's.

The only whiskies I've had that can compete with this unbelievable gem are the late-'60s / early-'70s Longmorns.  But it has been two long cynical years since I've had one of those.  Consider that I'm a damned Luddite, thus everything I had before was better than what I'm having now, and you (and I) will realize that I'm pretty serious about the greatness of this Springbank.

After finishing this treat, I glided from the bar as if I were Gene Kelly, as if I were Mikhail Baryshnikov, as if I were their love child Gene Baryshnikov, dancing as if he had two broken legs and blind dyspeptic ferrets for feet.  I couldn't drink anything after this.  No additional whiskies at Bar Cordon Noir.  No visits to the second whisky bar on my list.  I was ending my trip with this whisky.  I was ready to go home.

Availability - ???
Pricing - ???
Rating - 96


  1. I recently had a similar Springbank experience, also a Chieftain's. 39 year old, distilled in 1968 and bottled 2008. A transformative Springbank for me. Like your's surprisingly sherried, very subtle peat, complex and wonderful. Glad you found this one!

    1. I've seen that one high up on the shelf at a local decent whisky place in LA. Bet that was gorgeous! I wonder if Chieftain's is sitting on any other Springbank wonders in their warehouses.

  2. Replies
    1. It was drinkable. The first and probably last time I'll have a chance to drink old sherried Springbank unless I win Powerball.

  3. Now THAT was a write-up! I feel like I have vicariously tasted a 30-year-old 1970's Springbank, and I'm a better man for it. :)

    1. Sometimes I find it a pain in the arse to read about a whisky that's forever out of my reach. But because I enjoyed this whisky so thoroughly, I just hoped that if I could somehow communicate my joy then it could be a positive post. Thank you for your kind words!