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I mentioned in a comment I made on the review of the Springbank 10 year old by @markjedi (connosr.com/reviews/springbank/…) a private bottling of a Springbank barrel by the folks at the Lark distillery. So while I was down there saying my goodbyes to a mate of mine about to head off to the navy, I had a dram.
Basically, in it's earlier days, the people at the Lark Distillery bought a barrel of spirit from the Springbank distillery and matured it for 16 years. When the finally decided to bottle it, they took half of the spirit and watered it down to the traditional 43%, and bottled the other half as cask strength. The end of result was this truly amazing whisky.
Firstly, this whisky is so powerful, we decided to have it last, even deciding to have the Lagavulin Distillers Edition first. As it turned out the Lagavulin Distillers Edition was far more civilised and urbane than we expected, but even if it hadn't worked out that way (we expected something more along the lines of the Lagavulin 16 year old), the Springbank cask strength would have been overpowering. Yes, I am saying that this dram is significantly more powerful nose nd flavour-wise than the Lagavulin 16 year old.
The nose is starts with heavy spices. You can smell the spices from over a yard away from the glass as soon as it is poured. A few more moments and you will get the honey sweetness following it. Truly powerful. More time, and closer sniffs reveal, cloves, cinnamon and mead.
The dram tastes as if someone took the best spiced honey mead ever made, and distilled it down to its very essence and then figured out a way to make it explode with mouth-watering hot spicy sweetness when you tried to drink it. Initially this is very nearly overwhelming, but after a couple of sips you can start to break out the individual tastes of cinnamon, cloves, hot spice, honey, mead, vanilla and pears. There is even more there, but this is such a powerful malt it would take several glasses to isolate more. A few drops makes it a little less overwhelming, but not by much.
The finish is long and hot, with the spicy cloves and cinnamon leaving your tongue and lips feeling tingly and numb, and as the spices fade, and feeling returns to your tongue, you are left with warm honey sweetness for several minutes.
Not a beginners dram by any means - it's far too powerful. That said, I feel fortunate to have had some of this whisky, as only a few bottles still exist, and I will probably never own one.
This one challenges the Ardbeg Uigedail as my favourite ever dram. If you ever drop by Hobart Australia - head into the Lark Distillery and ask for the Springbank cask strength, but be prepared, it isn't for the faint of heart...