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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Springbank 15 year old 2000 Jamaican Rum Barrel for Springbank Society

On Monday I reviewed a single cask of 15 year old Springbank that was distilled in 2000. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the unspecified rum utilized to season that cask was not Jamaican. I come by this uneducated guess because I tried that whisky head-to-head with today's whisky, a Springbank aged in a Jamaican rum barrel.

For the readers out there who think every rum is tooth-rottingly sweet syrup, may I encourage you to try a Jamaican rum or two or three. Jamaican rum, especially Hampden, has more spunk, funk and wallop than nearly any whisky in production. Of course, it's getting tougher to find Hampden now that Whiskyfun lavishes every Hampden release with wild praise. Accordingly one should also anticipate rising prices.

But it's true what you hear. Hampden Estate, it's Esterrific!

There are at least a half dozen Jamaican distilleries other than the big H. So who knows what sat in this barrel first...
Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Springbank
Owner: Springbank Distillers Ltd.
Region: Campbeltown, on Well Close, just off of Longrow
Age: 15 years (November 2000 to October 2016, almost 16!)
Maturation: Jamaican Rum Barrel
Exclusive to: Springbank Society
Limited release: 228 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 51.2%abv
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant Added? No
(from a sample purchased via Sjoerd)

The nose is grungier than Monday's whisky, though still sugary. There's a balance to it: limes, oranges, beef, hot dirty hay, subtle peat. It gets brinier and fruitier with time, picking up a brief whiff of sulphur. Woooo, the palate. Think young bourbon barrel Springbank + Smith & Cross + Thai chilies. Rich creamery butter. Cinnamon hot candies and sea salt. A smoke/fuel note. It gets grassier with time. More chilies in the finish, then salt, sugar, ethyl and tannins.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 2/3tsp of water to 30mL whisky
The nose is cleaner, fruitier. A little bit of peat and sugar. Dried herbs and that flinty note. The palate is a lighter, sweeter take on the neat version. Some curry-ish spice rises up to make things more fun. The finish actually improves, with soil and tangy citrus join the heat-and-sweet party.

While the gnarliest of Jamaican rums was not in play, there be hogo here. And that's fine, because when an aggressive cask is used the rum wins out, like in this Amrut thingy. Instead, this Springbank shows off some balance. The (whisky) spirit comes across more rugged than the usual 15yo Springbank, but that's what was needed, resulting in fruit and fuel and salt and spice. It's far from being an artful Springbank, but I don't say that as an insult. It's a vigorous creation, especially once the chile note kicks in. If you're vigor triggered, then dilution is key. I'd take this over Monday's whisky any day.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 85