...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Beatrice Booze Report: Springbank 19 year old 1997 from Cadenhead Warehouse Tasting

After two weeks of a bad cold and one week in the newborn baby zone, I'm back in the game.


Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Springbank
Owner: Springbank Distillers Ltd.
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 19 years (May 9, 1997 to July 13, 2016)
Maturation: Sherry Butt
Alcohol by Volume: 59%
Purchased after the Cadenhead Warehouse tasting on, um, July 13, 2016

The nose holds tons of honey and thick toffee. Then roasted nuts, berry candy, blackberry liqueur and clementines. Beneath those notes sit a steady stream of antiseptic, band-aids and good unsmoked cigars. The palate is not as sweet as the nose would have one believe. While there are some sugary berries, it's full of dry sherry, lemons and ginger powder. It's intensely spicy, likely from the cask. It's also very earthy (as opposed to peaty). Loads of fresh ginger and chili peppers in the loooooong finish. Dried berries, crisp tannins and peat embers.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
It's a different whisky. Pineapple and honeydew join the nose's honey. Grape jam and blue Mr. Sketch marker. Toasty peat and a bigger antiseptic note. Hints of milk chocolate and barn. The palate is milder, sweeter and more approachable. Ginger and nutty sherry, with the berry candy around the edges. More smoke, more tangy citrus. Moderated wood spice. The finish is less tannic. More fruit and more tobacco. Dry sherry and a hint of cinnamon raisin bread. A wisp of smoke.

The best way to experience this whisky (and nearly any whisky) is by doing so straight from the cask in Cadenhead's warehouse #9. But that's dickish of me to mention because this cask is no more, it has shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible.

The second best way to experience this whisky is by adding water. It's a hell of thing on the nose, when neat. But the full strength palate, while good, needs some elbow room. Diluting it a little bit helps the finish out as well. No matter how you choose to drink it, the whisky never tilts too sweet. But it can't be accused of subtlety either. It's all power. Thunderous cask notes exist side by side with vivacious Springbank spirit, neither giving way.

When we received the good news about our baby-to-be nine months ago, I knew instantly this was the bottle I'd open when she arrived. There are too many open bottles in my cabinet right now, and that's because they're all okay-to-good. None of them are great. This one is great. And I anticipate it getting better around the bottle's midpoint. At the moment, it isn't the 93+-point whisky I'd thought it would be, but who knows...

Availability - Sold out at Cadenhead
Pricing - it was £100 when I bought it, UK auctions have it for a lot more now
Rating - 90 (with water)


  1. Oh, I love that one. My first is 60% full still. But I have a couple more stashed away ;) And guess what, it was actually priced cheaper at 100 pounds. I remember, because I also bought the Mortlach 1987, and that was actually 115 pounds.

    1. You are correct, sir. It was £100. Adjusted. You're a smart man for picking up more than one!