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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Springbank 17 year old 1995 Refill Sherry Butt

Today's Springbank is beloved by the whiskybase community. But there are no actual reviews written for it, nor do any of the scorers' names look familiar. Some of these folks could be using the Whisky Advocate approach of 90 points = good. I mean most, if not all, paid reviewers dish out hundreds of 90 point grades each year, one even gave Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye a 97.5 (let us never forget). Conversely, many individuals online believe that the entirety of the 100 point range must used in balance, thus an average whisky should receive a score of 50.

Though I'm not part of either school, I relate more to the latter than the former. If I score something below a 50, that means I'd rather sip Cuervo Gold or plastic bottle vodka. Thankfully, I have come across few whiskies that sink to those depths. It takes a hell of a lot for me to cough up a 90-point score and there are months when nothing gets that grade.

But no matter the drinker, circumstances affect one's perception, and ultimately one's grade, of a whisky. This includes one's drinking environment. Company, or lack thereof. First drink of the night or the seventh? Enthusiasm for a bottle purchase, or tougher expectations for a bottle purchase. The softness of the chair. Shoes. Astrological moon sign. Or, you know, one's individual palate.

My sample of this whisky comes from a bottle that was brought, half-full, to Columbus Scotch Night for 3 or 4 months before it was emptied. And that is a Springbank lovin' crowd too, mind you. It fascinated me that there was a 17 year old single sherry cask bottling of Springbank just sitting there and no one talked about it.

Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Springbank
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 17 years (June 1995 - December 2012)
Maturation: refill sherry butt
Outturn: 438 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 57%
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? No

Lots of dried fruit in this nose, think cherries, prunes and golden raisins. There's also coal smoke, marzipan, amaretto and cinnamon raisin bread. The palate has almost none of the nose's fruit. Instead there's some aged dry cheese and black walnuts. Salt, metal and burnt plastic with a slight savory note. Salt, dry cheese and sooty smoke in the finish. Drying tannins on the tongue.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or < 1½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
More fresh stone fruits than dried ones in the nose. It's bright and sugar with a squeeze of lemon and an oceany hint. The palate is sweeter now and slightly more complex. There's less salt and savory, but still some of the metal and plastic. The tangy, salty, metallic finish is much shorter now.

Well, the nose is great, with or without water. If Springbank was made only for sniffin' then this would be a big winner. The palate is sort of savory, sort of simple, but also loaded with metal and plastic, and not in a classic industrial Campbeltown sort of way. There's something off about it. The finish doesn't work for me, neat or diluted (the whisky, not me), dropping into bland territory (again, the whisky, not me). Either oxygen got to this bottle's contents, or this wasn't one of Springbank's honey casks. But the nose is very fine and worth spending time with, perhaps while sipping a different whisky. So much for theories about grades. I don't know what to do with this one.

Availability - Sold out years ago
Pricing - ???
Rating - 81 ? (saved by the nose)