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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Single Malt Report: Springbank 12 year old Cask Strength, batch 11 (53.8%abv)

Hey, look at this! Another 12 year old Springbank! And a more recent batch of their great Cask Strength series. By the time they got to batch 11, the cask recipe had changed but was still comprised of mostly ex-sherry cask whisky.

It's interesting how most of these "Cask Strength" batches have moderately low alcohol content. I wonder if that's related to Springbank's old earth-and-stone dunnage warehouses. Or maybe they've been adding in some low ABV casks that are in dire need of a home. In any case, it works for me. I'd rather have a 53.8%abv single malt than a 63.8%abv single malt, but that's a post for another time when I have more words. Let's get to the whisky.

Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Springbank
Owner: Springbank Distillers Ltd.
Region: Campbeltown, on Well Close, just off of Longrow
Age: minimum 12 years
Maturation: 70% ex-sherry cask / 30% ex-bourbon casks
Alcohol by Volume: 53.8%
Batch: 11
Release year: 2015
(Sample from a LASC event this past Spring)

The nose is mostly fruity and metallic at first. After a couple minutes there are some leathery and peppery (good) sulphur notes. Then dried apricots, almond extract and saline. The sherry feels mostly dry, though there's an occasional grape jam note. The palate is a bright minty anise-y thing with musty warehouse notes. It's waxy and oily. A mild dried fruit sweetness is joined by toasted oak spices. It finishes with a cooling menthol buzz. It's slightly dirty, with that warehouse note. But there's also a good amount of honey lingering about.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The cask notes have been washed out of the nose. It's all barley and cereal grains, almost like a young Tobermory. There are some hints of toffee here and there. Whole wheat toast with apple butter. The palate is all funky musty moldy warehouse floor, at first. Gradually some dried fruit notes slip in, then vanilla bean, tangy citrus, pepper and menthol. It finishes with an orangey sweetness, pruney sherry and a pinch of black pepper.

Batch 11 is a simple dirty version of Springbank 12 year old Cask Strength. It's also a very different, probably better whisky once water is added. Though I enjoy the musty notes when the whisky's neat, there's not much else that lifts it up, especially compared with the first batch of 12yo CS. But once water is added, the good grain notes lift up and compliment the funk. Overall, it's a mid-quality Springbank CS, but that puts it at a much higher standing than most whiskies in its price range.

Availability - Possibly at some US specialty retailers, make sure to check the label's ABV
Pricing - $75 - $100
Rating - 86

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