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Frank McHardy’s statement ‘We don’t do finishes, we mature’, is not entirely true, is it? This Claret Wood was matured on a refill bourbon barrel, before it got a finish (ok, a three year long finish) on fresh Claret (Bordeaux) wine casks. The soften the wine influence, it was re-casked again for another two years in charred casks. Seems rather elaborate. Is it worth the effort?
Ah, the nose is a pleasant surprise! Nicely crisp on berries, especially red ones. After a short while, the true character of Springbank emerges (think wet jute, mouldy but good). Some honey. Light sourish touch of the wine. Dades. Sea salt. Coconut. Smoke. Eucalyptus. Caramel. Leather. Vanilla. It goes up and down, up and down. A yo-yo of aromas, all of them pleasant.
It is oily, almost creamy, and spicy on the palate. Sweet, absolutely. Winey? No way! Again the red berries take center stage, but the other, less pronounced tastes, can be found as well. Very complex and surprisingly good.
The berries remain prominent in the lingering finish, but in the end, the whisky dies on gently bitter oak and a salty twist. Extraordinary!
Now that is good fun, see. A whisky of which I had low expectations, that takes me completely by surprise by being so wonderfully good and complex. One of the best wine finishes I have had in a long time! About 60 EUR.