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Springbank 12 Year Old Cask Strength

Mulling over this Kintyre beauty

3 2790

@HewieReview by @Hewie

1st Jul 2017

1

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    90

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Springbank 12 Cask strength, Batch 14, bottled in January 2017 at 54.2%

Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea,
My desire is always to be here,
Oh Mull of Kintyre

Ok, so Springbank of Campbeltown doesn’t exactly hail from the Mull of Kintyre, but it’s well south on the Kintyre Peninsula – and “as the crow flies” it’s only a mere 10 miles or so from the southernmost tip.

This bottle is a bunch of firsts for me: my first “cask strength” whisky, my first Springbank whisky, and, therefore, also my first Campbeltown whisky. Despite not having tried Springbank previously, I was certain, based on correlation with what I know I like in a whisky, that this would hit the mark. Boy did this hit the mark for me! Being relatively new to the big wide world of single malt whisky, and having really only sampled from the usual range of entry level OB’s – I haven’t had the opportunity to try any really old stuff. However, this bottle is just how I imagine Scotch whisky tasted in bygone days. I found this bottle very evocative of another place, another time – I love the journey it takes me on. I also love the philosophy behind Springbank. This is part of the reason that they are enjoying a lot of recognition currently. That and they apparently make fantastic whisky! There is no little booklet of tasting notes that comes with the bottle – you’re not told what tastes we are supposed to find within. You even have to do your own detective work to find out that this is batch 14 of the 12 year old cask strength bottlings.

Nose: Sherry at the forefront, dried fruits, raisins sultanas. Merging with gentle oak and peatiness. Malt sweetness.

Palate: Malt sweetness. Marmalade. Dark sugar, burnt toffee. Fusty (like I imagine a dunnage warehouse) – old books, wet wood and hessian. Salty, brackish. Vegetal peat, a little iodine. Some leather and tobacco leaf. Baking spices, especially ginger – the dried form. White pepper providing additional warmth.

Finish: Combination of salty, peaty, savoury notes fading to a mouth coating tobacco smoke finish.

Being cask strength, I was expecting the nose to have a bit more punch than it does, and even the palate isn’t overly assertive. I didn’t appreciate how peaty this is until I had a wee dram following on after some Bunnahabhain - the peat is so well integrated rather than being dominant. Now I’ve got a little insight into the Springbank funk that people speak of – it’s quite tricky to put into words but is completely appealing. Highly recommended!

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27 comments

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

Nice review!

Did you try adding a little water to it? I find a few drops work well with Springbank.

Also, if you like it now, I suspect you'll like it even more after a few months...if it lasts that long.

about one year ago 0

@Hewie
Hewie commented

@Nozinan Thanks. Yes, still experimenting a bit with it - enjoying it neat but playing to see what difference varied amounts of water make. I'm keen to se how it progresses over time - I hope to make it last a while!

about one year ago 0

@NamBeist
NamBeist commented

@Hewie It is a great review. I have also written a review of this whisky., but it is a review of batch 12. I will publish it later on this site. Batch 12 has simularities, but it is not the same. It is all about batch variations.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

Fun review! I love seeing your impressions of so many "firsts."

About the batches: So where is reliable batch info to be found these days? The following seemingly random blog used to be the best source of truth. benswhisky.co.uk/2014/07/…

about one year ago 0

@Hewie
Hewie commented

@MadSingleMalt Thanks. Some online shops will list the batch number with the bottle they are selling so that can be helpful. However, the website you linked seems to be the go-to for confirmation of batch numbers. So far, all of the batches have had different %ABV so that typically leads you to the batch number with a simple google search. The latest batch (the one reviewed here) is also the first with the new label. I must say I'm not much of a fan of the new Springbank labels - but we mustn't judge a book by its cover!

about one year ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Hewie The label - what's on the bottle - is less important than what's in the bottle. And judging by your score this ugly duckling is a Swan in disguise.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@Hewie , I'm sure you're right that random Googling of the ABV will probably turn up the batch number for any given bottle, but it always seems weird to me that the info isn't more readily available—though it is very "Springbank" to leave that out. (See the difficulty in identifying the various installments of the Kilkerran WIPs!)

I don't trust online shops to get it right. You'll see on that blog, for example, that this Ben fella corrected batch info that was originally on some shop websites, including Master of Malt.

And it's too bad that blog stopped staying up to date. Their latest batch is 10, while you're up to 14 here already.

The batches all seem to be good, so it doesn't matter a whole lot—except that typically I want to buy a new batch instead of repeating a previous batch that I already had. And at least once, I was trying to track down a specific batch that Serge described in the most delicious terms possible.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Hewie
Hewie commented

@MadSingleMalt here ya go matey - try this link. Same blog but updated :) benswhisky.co.uk/p/… You're right about not being able to trust a lot of other sources (who should know better). The site I bought off was listing it with the %ABV and date of Batch 13. I sent them a polite email to say that, although difficult, they need to keep their site up to date as enthusiasts purchase based on the specific individual batch - as you wish to do. Cheers

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@rmunson32
rmunson32 commented

This link list all the batches starting with batch 1 Jan 2010, very helpful. I have been wanting to pull the trigger on a SB 12 CS for a while, batch 14 and 15 available in DC near me but at $100 it's a tough call. Has any one had batch 15.

benswhisky.co.uk/p/…

about one year ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@rmunson32 , I have one open right now, but I don't know what batch it is. They're all good. Go for it.

For Springbank 12 CS (actually, I think this applies to nearly all the batch-labeled products I'm familiar with), the batches don't matter much unless you've had a few already and you get so interested or invested in the line that you want to start comparing them side-by-side.

about one year ago 0

@rmunson32
rmunson32 commented

@MadSingleMalt your right haha, I need to pull the trigger, hopefully my boss i.e. Wife won't mind since I just picked up a 12yr Lagavulin.

about one year ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@rmunson32, you are saying that the more whisky you buy the more approving your wife is of your buying more? Good deal!

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@rmunson32 , in comparison to the Lag 12, the Springbank 12 is a bargain, right? It'd be stupid not to buy it!

That'll wear her down. :)

about one year ago 0

@rmunson32
rmunson32 commented

@Victor initially she will be more annoyed, then after her first couple of drams per the usual she will approve my wonderful decision making. I always tell her they are her whisky's and she concurs approvingly! Luckily for me she has the better nose and palate so it's easy for her to over look the spend, and enjoy the whisky! @MadSingleMalt SB 12 in my area D.C. Is $94 pre tax, Laga 12 is $99, I hear the Laga 12 can hit $140+

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@rmunson32, I offer you an "ouch" for you local price on the Springbank. I think $80-85 is the normal going rate in most (US) places these days.

But you got a relative bargain on that Lagavulin price! Looks like your local shops didn't get the memo from Diageo that the price is supposed to be 40% higher now than it was a year or two ago.

about one year ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@MadSingleMalt, you are lowballing the price over there in Madison. Wine-searcher currently gives lowest public-ad US price for Springbank 12 CS at $ 84 plus tax, with a US average of $ 93 plus tax. Maybe you need to buy more of that one too.

wine-searcher.com/find/…

@rmunson32, wife getting upset with 11 bottles in the cabinet? My wife didn't start to object to new purchases until we had about 300 bottles in the cabinet. Stressing her ownership of the booze is a winning plan.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@Victor, wow—I didn't realize the average price was $93! Not that a $10 difference is a huge deal either way, but it's good to know my local shop has a relative value on it. This is the same (and nearly only) place by me that stocks the interesting Campbeltown whiskies beyond the basic Springbank 10 and Longrow Peated.

I think, though, that my current open bottle of Springbank 12 CS will be my last one for a while. It's totally good, but I typically like zippier whiskies, and the 12 CS is firmly in the "heavy" camp for me. I expect that a good portion of what's left in my open bottle will end up in my all-Campbeltown solera bottle, where the heavy sherry can be set against the zippier entry-level Campbeltown malts and the peaty Longrows already in there. (Man, this post is really making me crave a dram from my all-Campbeltown bottle.)

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Hewie
Hewie commented

@MadSingleMalt sounds like an interesting solera bottle. I'm always a bit envious when I read of people bringing back bottles from the living cask at the Cadenhead shop. Out of interest. the best price here for the Springbank 10 is $90 and the 12 CS is $100, which is only about a 10% difference. I found that unusual - is that typical in other places?

about one year ago 0

@RianC
RianC commented

@Hewie - will be adding this one to my list - thanks!

I had to have a watch of 'Macca' singing this one after reading . . . now it's stuck firmly in my head and i can feel my fingers itching towards Band on the Run for release!

Oh the pipes the pipes ;)

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

Apologies for a random one but it fits the review.

The story he tells of 'Tony' makes me smile

www.youtube.com/watch

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@Hewie, those prices are much closer to each other than is normal, I think. I bet most people familiar with them both would choose the 12 CS nine times out of ten!

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@rmunson32
rmunson32 commented

@Hewie my wife took me to Scotland this past June, the first part of our trip was through the gorgeous winding roads along the shore to Campbeltown with a Cadenhead warehouse #9 tour. We had the whole place to our selves, the standard tasting of 8 valinched different cask turned to 11. Amazing so hard to pick bottles to buy. You can easily get obsessed to everything Cadenhead and the Springbank family!

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Hewie
Hewie commented

@rmunson32 now that sounds like a very memorable experience. I bet you think about that when you're dramming sometimes!

about one year ago 0

@rmunson32
rmunson32 commented

@Hewie definitely do! You always remember that wonderful dunnage aroma you can only get from 1,000 of cask. Warehouse tastings are like drinking with the gods! Lagavulin warehouse tasting is the star on top of the Christmas trees of Warehouse tastings, totally next level amazingnrsd, I could go on and on with stories from there; but visiting the distilleries gives you another level of appreciation. That's why kilchoman is now one of my favorites!

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@DaveM
DaveM commented

I looked at my bottle of 12YO Cask Strength. Nowhere do I see a batch number. Where did you find it?

10 months ago 0

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