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Few distilleries merit the term ‘traditional’ these days. Appealing to tradition has become a pervasive scheme by which large beverage conglomerates market their brands, but it glosses over a great deal of the modernised, mechanised world of today’s whisky production. The Springbank distillery, however, is the archetypal exception.
Springbank performs all of its own floor maltings. It regulates the malting temperature by the use of window shutters. Its washbacks are made of larch. (The larch. The larch.) The wash still works by open fire and steam coils. Uniquely, Springbank is distilled 2.8 times; the heavily peated Longrow and the unpeated Hazelburn, also produced by Springbank, are distilled twice and three times, respectively.
The core Springbank range consists of the 10, 15, and 18 year-old expressions, but there are also numerous single cask, vintage, NAS, and ACEd expressions, as well as some stately elder releases. Among these alternatives is the 12 year-old cask strength release, reviewed here.
The nose is classic Springbank: sweet, creamy, and malty, with coconut, butterscotch, cereal grain, and a touch of peat smoke. Initially, upon opening the bottle, I found notes of marshmallows and a hint of something metallic, but both have since subsided.
The palate is again sweet, rich Springbank malt, reminiscent of malted milk or rice pudding. There is tropical fruit (pineapple, perhaps?), bittersweet cocoa, sherry, coconut, smoke, a hint of salt, and menthol on the finish.
The 12 year-old cask strength is another remarkable malt from Springbank. It took some time to open up, but once it did, it opened up beautifully.