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Springbank 12 Year Old Cask Strength

A dram for all seasons

0 1091

RReview by @Rigmorole

16th Jun 2014


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

A rich golden color greets the eye as you pour this scotch into your glass. The cask strength creates some lovely "pearls" (bubbles) around the edges of your glass that cling and live for up to a minute or two before winking out. For some reason, these pearls last a tad longer than in other cask strength offerings, and they also appear a tad brighter than usual even for a high ABV dram.

Inhale decadent scents of clover, dates, honey, caramel, light campfire smoke, pan-fried plantain, brine, and cedar. Take a sip and experience marzipan essences, brown sugar, sea salt, crème brulee, aged leather, espresso, a touch of oak, and rich toasted malt.

In some ways, this scotch reminds me of a Brora I tasted last year. Certain rough edges blend delightfully with "farmy," coastal notes. Be prepared for a long, warm finish that lingers gracefully without a harsh alcohol presence. The flavors last and last with a delightfully oily consistency as the palate echoes the palate, in addition to slightly more salt and a kiss of oak.

Like Highland Park's 18 Year, this Springbank is a "dram for all seasons." It has a hint of smoke, a light sherry influence, and the hand crafted farmy/coastal touches of old 12-15 year old Broras and Clynelishes.

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wtrstrnghlt commented

There is a poet somewhere inside of you @rigmolore.

I got batch 7 (50,3%) for Father's Day. And since I enjoyed the 10 year old very very much, I am looking forward to opening this one. I love Springbank as a distillery for keeping things pure, simple and local. Picked up a bottle of Longrow CV recently and have my eye on a Longrow 18y.

What batch did you review here?

9 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

I'm not entirely sure which ABV bottle I reviewed since it was at a pub and I forgot to examine the bottle. I was just guessing. I happen to have an unopened bottle. When I open that, I will review it. I got it on sale for around $50 American. A real steal. Thanks for your compliment about my writing.

Believe it or not, I am a published novelist, essayist, nonfiction writer, and poet. With these reviews, I just have fun. When I'm writing for posterity in a book or something, I'm quite obsessive to detail. I actually enjoy these whisky reviews because they allow me to write "off the cuff" so to speak.

Next time I'm at the Stillhouse, I will consult the bottle I reviewed and list the batch/ABV level properly.

I've not tasted the Longrow 18, but I own a bottle (2009). I took a gamble on buying my bottle (2009) after reading Serge's review (of what he calls the 2008) here:

Longrow 18 yo (48%, OB, 2008) Advance sample. Another brand new Longrow that will be bottled this week according to the ever spirited Frank McHardy. Aren’t we all dreaming of something new, that would match the brilliant 1973s and 1974s, or the best casks from 1987? Let’s see... Colour: straw. Nose: starts boldly on cider apples, raw rhubarb and warm butter, with also notes of old walnuts, liquorice and old books (a second-hand bookshop, really.) Gets then both farmier and more ‘maritime’, with the same notes of wet wool as in the CV, wet grains, kelp, then fresh mint and moss. Pleasant mustiness, fresh mushrooms and moss. Medium peatiness. Mouth: yes, more peat and more punch on the palate than on the nose, and in that sense it’s closer to the CV. The great news is that it’s also very clean again, more directly salty, orangey, spicy (notes of dried cardamom), with an excellent ‘pepperiness’ growing bolder by the minute. Even hints of chilli (not of the ‘End of the World – Triple XXX’ category that is.) Salted smoked fish. Finish: very long, very peppery and very orangey (bitter oranges). Obligatory silly comment: please drop the Tokaj, Barolo or Whicheverwine casks and make more of this kind of pure breed (I’m sorry)! This bottle should become legendary once it has rested quite a few years in a quiet cellar. Ours, for example ;-). SGP:436 – 92 points.

BUT . . . here is what the LA Whisky Society said about the same year Longrow 18. The review was published in 2011, but I suspect the bottle reviewed was the same year Serge reviewed:

N: Winey (almost like a finish). Lots of tartness from limesmixed in with charred fatty meats and a fair bit of peat in the back.

P: Initially dominated by musty stale notes that were unpleasant. Yeasty/ bready notes come through followed by a bit of spice that disappears quickly. I didnt get much on the finish except for some sulphur/ rubber. B-/C+

n: Sulpher and garbage

p: Dirty pail. Metallic. Salt. Not my thing. Springbank distillery sinks even lower. Sad.

n: wet grassy peat smoke, cinnamon candies, and clove cigarettes. Smells of salted ham and a doused paper fire.

t: bread dough that was in an industrial fire with a dose of the sulphur (rotten eggs) that I didn't like. The peat smoke is very subdued and tastes like a wine cask-type finish; it has this weird sour/sweet plastic quality. There aren't too many other elements that show, some prune and seasalt, but the sour note stays through the finish. I kept drinking it to see if I'd come around, but I liked it even less.

9 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

Here is a "little gem" that Serge loved last year. It's still around since a lot of other people did not love it. Sort of a cross between a Longrow and a farmy old Brora:

Kilkerran 9 yo 2004/2013 'Work in Progress - Bourbon Wood' (46%, OB, batch #5) Five stars I always liked Springbank/Cadenhead's way of writing 'matured in oak' on their bottles. Or maybe do they still have chestnut wood? Colour: white wine. Nose: yes! It's got this typical sooty profile that's also only to be found at Springbank, it's to be wondered if it's not 'in the air' over there in Campbeltown, just like 'flor/jaune yeast' in Jura or Jerez. So soot, wet sand and gravel, sour apples, high-quality artisan yoghurt, ale, old wood, damp cellar, mushrooms and quite some freshly ground grey pepper, which is very peculiar... Love this nose. Mouth: love this palate even more. Everything is perfect, the oranges, tangerines, tar, smoke, grains, spices, ashes, liquorice, lemon, grape seed oil, the mineral side... Just between us, I don't think it's 'WIP' anymore. Unless that means Wonderfully Interesting Petrol ;-). Finish: long, on the same flavours. I mean, long and perfect. Comments: considering the current avalanche of depersonalised NAS oak/wine bombs that taste all the same (right, more or less), this stylish Kilkerran is amazingly refreshing. Kudos. SGP:552 - 91 points.

9 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

Notice the similarities between the Longrow 18 and that Kilkerran. Very interesting. And yet, during other years, the Longrow was not so "mushroomy" and "dank." I suspect that it for some reason resembles very old cask (over the hill) scotches from yesteryear. Like ancient furniture, one must put up with some rough edges and dents, so to speak. I've been eyeballing a 1966 Glen Grant for the better part of a year, on and off online, but I probably won't get around to buying the bottle since I have just put new wood floors in my home and I need to buy a new car this year. Ah well. I still have a few old bottles of scotch left . . .

9 years ago 0

wtrstrnghlt commented

I didn't grab the Kilkerran when I got the chance. I'm really sad it was gone so quick here in Holland. But then again, you have to accept you can't always get every Whisky on your wishlist before it disappears from the shelves. Or at least I can't, because of my extended wishlist and limited Whisky budget. Only the sherried version is still available here I think.

When I read the notes of the LA Whisky Society I think the Springbank Distillery profile just isn't their taste. Which can happen of course. I had the same thing with Bowmore, I just hated my 3x20ml sample pack of the 12y, 15y and 18y. Bowmore just isn't my style I guess, but I hope to come across better bottles in the future.

I can appreciate the farmy style though. I enjoy my bottle of Caol Ila Moch and Ballechin Marsala Cask. But I can fully understand that cowsh*t can put some people off.

9 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

Well, if you're ever in Portland Oregon, give me a PM. I can have you over for the Longrow 18 or the Kilkerran, both of which I have unopened at the present time. I would open one of them if you're a big fan of their profiles. I do like farmy coastal stuff as well. I think also that the LA WS might have gotten a bottle with too much sulfur or cork taint based upon their comments

9 years ago 0

wtrstrnghlt commented

Thank you for your kind offer. Although I don't have plans to cross the Atlantic, I might meet you in the future.

Kilkerran WIP6 should be available after the summer I expect. Looking forward to reading some notes about that. If they keep following the example of Port Charlotte I'll make sure I won't miss out again.

9 years ago 0

SimeonSanchez commented

Major Springbank envy here. It's one of the bottles that's in effect banned by Michigan's kangaroo liquor bureaucracy. I must consider moving to another State. Oregon is beautiful.

9 years ago 0

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