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Springbank 18 Year Old

You Can Bank On It

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

8th Aug 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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During my last trip to Scotland in May, we had the great pleasure of touring the Springbank distillery in Campbeltown. We got a chance to quickly meet Director of Production Frank McHardy, and had a fantastic tour, culminating in a tasting in the rooms at the back of Cadenhead's retail store nearby. I spent a little bit too much money there........

.....but I didn't buy this bottle there - got it at the ol' overpriced LCBO. The 18 Year Old is released annually, in a limited run of 9000 bottles. It is 80% matured in sherry casks and 20% in bourbon barrels and, as with all Springbanks, is non-coloured and non-chill-filtered.

The colour is a deep coppery gold. On the nose, rum raisin, chocolate hazelnut and strawberries. Malty and spicy. A hint of mint. Very complex, a lot going on and all these different notes work together very well. Water brings out a very subtle, light balsamic quality. Very interesting.

On the palate, briny, with vanilla and white pepper. Very Springbank, and with berries and cream. Buttery and delicious. Water seriously ups the spicy heat, bringing cayenne pepper! Wow!

The finish is quite gentle at first, then developing into cinnamon and nutmeg - but near the end becomes a little too bitter. That is the only off note in what is otherwise one of the great Springbanks. Jim Murray scores this a 90.5, and it won Best Campbeltown Single Mat at the 2012 World Whiskies Awards. I cannot recommend highly enough a trip to Campbeltown, where you can visit a distillery that is a time machine to a bygone era of whisky-making; purchase some rare bottlings at Cadenhead's; and finish with many impossible-to-find drams at the Ardshiel Hotel.

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Rigmorole commented

Great review, chock full of useful info! I'm a big Springbank fan. I plan on visiting a few of Scotland's infamous scotch tours next summer. Is there an ideal time to visit? I suppose I can look up some of the whisky fests online to figure that out . . . .

As for the 18, how does the one you have compare to the D&T version? Ever try the D&T 18?

I'm on the fence about shelling out the requisite clams for a D&T 18. I've tasted it at Highland Stillhouse near Portland, but I've never tasted the second regular 18. It's 92 proof, as opposed to 112 proof in the D&T.

Not sure if more strength equals more character. It often does, but not always. I never like to sacrifice balance and charm for mere heat. I get what you're saying about the bitter end note. It's been a while since I tasted the D&T 18. That's the only version in a bar in Portland area or I would try the other. No bars stock it.

Gotta love Mick, self proclaimed "Publican" of the Stillhouse (owner). He goes for it! Without his place (which ain't exactly a bargain when it comes to prices, but hey it's got over 500 whiskies and a frickin warehouse full of scotch nearby to keep bottles in stock!), my knowledge of good scotch would be miles behind where I am now, and of course I"ve still got a long way to go before I reach your level of knowledge. Again, great review, T!

9 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

When I say "heat" that's not to say I normally drink my higher strength stuff without adding a few drops o water. I do see the virtue in a touch of water when it is needed to help bring out more flavorful character

9 years ago 0

talexander commented

Thanks @rigmorole! We went to Scotland mid-May and the weather was gorgeous - sunny, warm but cooling down in the evenings. Last year I was in Speyside in early May and it was much cooler. So mid-May or June might be good times to go?

I've never tried the DT bottling - but I'd be very curious to do a side-by-side comparison with the regular 18. We are limited to what is available in Ontario so not many independent bottlings come our way...and I was lucky to find this bottle here. At present, it is totally sold out in Ontario.

I just went on the Highland Stillhouse website - wow! Insane list...you are very lucky to have access to that!!

9 years ago 0

talexander commented

Well, that's what I like about higher-strength whiskies - I can always add the amount of water I prefer (or none at all) to my taste. Having said that, I almost always add a drop of water to any whisky, even at 40%.

9 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

Good to hear back from you, my friend! Yes, I will do a side by side if I can! At any rate, thanks for the tips on Scotland! I am part Scottish, so I will enjoy returning there. I haven't been since I was 19 years old! Too long!

9 years ago 0

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