Category Archives: Springbank

Springbank 15yo — visiting what has become one of my favorite whiskies.


Springbank 15 year old single malt scotch whiskyRegion — Campbeltown — 46% ABV

Springbank 15yo is a whisky that I find myself revisiting over and over and over again.  I think it’s perhaps one of my favorite whiskies, like… ever.

While I may revisit it many times over, I’ve not revisited it from a let-me-disect-it-and-post-it-on-my-blog point of view.  I just spend a lot of time enjoying it.  Isn’t that what whisky is all about anyway? Enjoyment?

The last time I reviewed Springbank 15yo was June 17, 2011

So, here we are almost 4 years later.  Let’s see what the 2015 version is like.

On the nose — Lots of lime and orange marmalade (mostly orange) at first but it’s got a veil of peat it’s hiding behind.

Springbank 15yo Scotch WhiskyBlue slate wet with rain water and a stick of hard and powdered chewing gum you found from that package of Topps baseball cards released in 1980-something.

A hint of mint but a good dose of coastal breeze and dying beach grass.

Springbank 15yo Scotch WhiskyOn the mouth — Chewy and thick with bold notes of Duerr’s coarse cut orange marmalade.

A touch of peat is present but so is some now-cold potpouri.

There’s a touch of oak to let you know you’re dealing with a 15yo whisky but the oak’s true impression upon the juice is that of dark fruits, spiced citrus drops and still more marmalade.

Oh, and burning sticks as we reach the now drying finish.

Springbank 15yo Scotch WhiskyFinish — Drying and pleasant with a good deal of orange spice with the tiniest hint of clove.

In sum — What’s difficult to explain about this whisky — about all Springbank whiskies — it’s how unique the spirit itself is.  Yes, there are lots of notes here that you’ll find in other whiskies but you’ll never taste a more unique spirit than Springbank.  It’s too difficult to put it into words, sorry.  If you’ve never had Springbank before, it’s worth seeking out.

If I could, I would likely drink the $(*& out of this whisky every single day.  It’s that good.

Springbank 15yo Single Cask, re-charred Sherry Butt 58.3% ABV


Springbank 15 recharred sherry buttCampbeltown region – 58.3% ABV – $139

It is a very true statement that Springbank is a Scotch Whisky that is in a league of it’s own.

The quality of their products tend to be a few notches above the rest and the whisky’s character is, well, unique.  Very unique.

Could the essence of their individuality be connected to terroir (Campbeltown and they, Springbank,  being one of only three distilleries in Campbeltown)?

Perhaps it’s their distilling process (2.5 times distilled which is explained here)?  I think not as their other products, Hazelburn (3 times distilled and unpeated) and Longrow (2 times distilled and heavily peated) still have that Springbankiness to them…

Maybe it’s the fact that they handle every step of the process whisky-making process from malting on up?

Perhaps it’s the fact that their wash (beer to be distilled in to spirit) spends 70 hours or more fermenting in Boatskin Larch wash backs? (Most Scottish distilleries ferment their wash between 48 & 54 hours in either Oregon Pine or Stainless Steel).

I am not sure any one of the above points really offers up answers.  Regardless, Springbank Scotch Whisky  is pretty amazing stuff.  While I am a known Glenmorangie freak, I have to say that Springbank produces my favorite whisky.  Ever.  And when they do it right. Boy howdy, they do it right-right!

Today’s Springer is a 15yo single cask matured in a re-charred sherry butt.  This is a highly unusual style of Scotch whisky and it sounded simply super fun and interesting to me so I had to get a bottle.  Had to.

On the nose — As I might have guessed (and surely hoped), the nose is very Bourbon-like due to the re-charred oak.  There’s a high sweetness here and a sharpness in scent.

Springbank-recharred-Sherry-Cask-1Brown sugar and peat!  What a combo!  Paraffin wax and molding clay.  Pencil shavings, albeit burnt pencil shavings.  A wide combination of dried fruits (dates, prunes, dried banana, etc…), pickled walnuts and cherries pits.

Springbank-recharred-Sherry-Cask-2There’s a salty/briny quality to this as well.  Heavy leather gloves (well used) and a brush fire.

This is like nosing a 50-50 mix of George T Stagg and a sherried Springbank.

Springbank-recharred-Sherry-Cask-3On the mouth — Big, salty and massively sherried (but without being like a run-of-the-mill sherry bomb).  There is no unidimensionality going on here.  In fact, there’s a lot going on here and it’s part of a nice flavor story:

Springbank-recharred-Sherry-Cask-4Salted dates floating in a bowl of Mexican vanilla extract and grated chicory.  Soft yet driving peat and dank malt (a la Malta Goya).

A lovely mouth feel.  Very bourbon like in experience (mouthfeel, very sweet and prickly on the sides of the tongue, charred-oaky-goodness) with the addition of cherry-twizzler sweetness!

The nuttiness returns but it’s like a nutty-syrup mixed with unlit cigars.

Finish — Medium finish loaded with dates and a touch of salt.

In sum — As if Springbank was unique enough!  This is a wildly fun ride of a whisky that would impress the Bourbon lovers out there.  Heck, this should impress whisk(e)y drinkers anywhere.  Very tasty and quite balanced.

One could sit and dissect this whisky or just relax and simply enjoy it.  This is a desert (and dessert) island dram for me.  I better get another bottle before you all buy it out on me!!

Tasting five SMWS bottlings

Back in October, 2011, I had the pleasure of attending the Boston Single Malt and Scotch Whisky Extravaganza which is held by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America.

If you’re not a member of the SMWS(A) then the Extravaganza would be the only place you’d get to try their Single Cask, Cask Strength whiskies (they always 5 of their bottlings to sample from at these shows).  And while that’s all fine and dandy, not being a member means you are excluded from access to their 60 or so whiskies they release on a yearly basis (about 5 per month).

Being upfront, I am not an employee of the SMWS and do not receive any compensation to tout their goodness.  I’m just a proud, card carrying member of the society and have been wowwed enough times by the whiskies they release (and I buy) that I feel comfortable in saying that you should consider becoming a member.

Again, with being upfront, I will tell you that not all of their whiskies are winners.  I’ve have had a few bottlings, here and there, that were just not up my alley.  We all have different palates so it makes sense that I’m going to find one that the society loved and I just did not.

Last disclaimer – the whiskies being reviewed below were samples given to me by the SMWS – special thanks goes out to Gabby for the samples!

“Pass the Flapjacks” – 50.42 – 18yo – Refill ex-bourbon Hogshead – 56.9% – Bladnoch$130/bottle

On the nose –  A sweet, yet light nose.  Fresh honey crisp apples, cotton candy and cola barrels (those brown hard candies).  Unbaked sweet buns; heavy on the sweet unbaked doughy notes.  Not a super complex nose but very warming/inviting.  With water, those buns start to bake a bit but that apple sweetness goes away.  Milk chocolate fudge.

On the mouth – Very hot, alcoholic and sweet.  More apples and honey.  I think it needs water.  Celery and salt (but not celery salt – I’ve gotten this mix before from other whiskies).  Cinnamon and cinnamon red hot hearts (with that added sugar from the candy).  Water calms it down a bit and brings out more of the honeyed quality.

Finish – Medium in length, some slight drying and an apple sweetness comes through.

“Chutney on hot wood” – 71.33 – 20yo – Refill sherry butt – 57.4% – Glenburgie $140/bottle

On the nose –  I think the SMWS notes provided on the bottle (which I read afterwards) hit it on the head with the French onion soup note – beef stock, onions and sharp cheese all wrapped into one.  Cooked ginger and heavy sweet rum cakes.  Spiced & cooked nuts and dirty socks – reminds me (a bit) of the SMWS Macallan 24.111.  I think it’s the type of sherry cask (Amontillado perhaps?).

On the mouth – Very sweet and savory with combined notes of liver and onions and hoisin sauce.  This is an odd duck that shouldn’t work but does; and in a very cool way.  No water needed here.  The attack is welcome and the flavors are aggressive.  Nice drying effect toward the end.

Finish – Warming, savory and woody yet not overly so.  Long.

“Old Fashioned Tea Chests and Maple Candy” – 125.48 – 12yo – Dechar/rechar ex-bourbon hogshead – 52.1% – GlenmorangieAs of Dec 14, 2011, this is yet to be released.

On the nose –  Very very sweet.  Scents of ice wine and Halls cough drops – menthol and all.  Under ripe stone fruits.  Danish butter cookies (I love butter cookies!) and an old shalalee.  White berries (gooseberry mostly).  With time, the Glenmorangie character really comes through.  Like and intense and spicy Glenmorangie Original.

On the mouth – Woody (as expected with a dechar/rechar cask).  I’m getting notes that I’d usually associate with a sherried whisky like dried fruit and leather yet there’s also flavors I’d normally find in an ex-bourbon barrel like vanilla, pencil shavings and cinnamon.

Finish – Short finish.  Tannic and leathery.

“Alice in Wonderland whisky” – 27.90 – 10yo – Refill ex-bourbon Hogshead – 50.6% – Springbank$90/bottle

On the nose –  Smoldering beach fire with wet drift wood (think of thick salty smoke here).  Not unlike and ashtray.  Peppery as well.  Excuse me while I sneeze.  Hidden, way in the background is something sweet… Pixie stix?

On the mouth – Sweet and smokey and sooty and burnt and doused fires and burnt sugar on creme brule and motor oily with a side of brazil nuts.

Finish – Insanely long – imagine enjoying this at a construction site while a parking lot is being laid while you are eating bit-o-honeys.

“Desperate Dan whisky” – 127.9 – 9yo – Refill ex-bourbon Barrel – 56.9% – Port Charlotte$90/bottle

On the nose –  A bit of a shy nose but unmistakably peaty – not smokey, peaty.  Also, extremely medicinal and… sterile and things that should remain sterile like old folks homes and hospital beds.  Also some dried cardboard in here (perhaps more of the tails cut in the original spirit run?).  Dried pineapples.

On the mouth – Tropical fruits all around – pineapples, star fruits and ever a floral quality to it.  Spicy too.  Burnt microwave popcorn.  Did I mention that the mouthfeel was big, oily and lush?  Very nice.

Finish – Long and hot and drying.

In sum – This was a wild ride.  Five completely different whiskies from the same bottler.  While I’d not reach out for every bottle here, as one who loves to explore whisky, I could do this again and again.  In the end, was there a winner (other than me or you, should you try something like this)?  It’s got to be the 71.33 – Glenburgie.  I loved the mix of flavors, balance and complexity.

Happy dramming!!

A slightly older Springbank – 1972 (bottled in 1994)

Campbeltown Region – 46%ABV -$/£/ € A lot (good luck finding a bottle – this was bottled 17yrs ago)

Many years ago, the Campbeltown region of Scotland was the epicenter of Scotch whisky distilleries.  Today, there are only 3; Springbank, Glen Scotia and Kilkerran.

Springbank is an unusual distillery as it creates 3 different whiskies using three very different distilling practices.  The three whiskies that Springbank produces are: Springbank, Hazelburn and Longrow.

Hazelburn is an unpeated whisky that is distilled 3 times (like most Irish whiskies).  Longrow is a heavily peated whisky that is distilled twice.  And lastly, Springbank is a lightly/moderately peated whisky that has been distilled 2-1/2 times (the only distillery that uses this practice).

What, 2-1/2 times distilled?  What on G-d’s green earth does that mean?  How is that possible?  Jason over at Guid Scotch Drink gives a good explanation of this process.

Let’s move from the whisky lesson over to the whisky review…

On the nose –  Mint, perhaps unlit menthol cigarettes (with the addition of dried tobacco).

Sour sugar and a lovely mix of golden raisin and beeswax.

Delicious golden delicious apples both of the fresh and baked variety.

Lightly malted, salted and citrusy (the salty citrus combo reminds me a bit of a margarita sans the agave notes).

Fresh poured and paved road tar.

This is a confident nose.  Not aggressive in anyway just present in every way.

On the mouth Very shy upfront (even a bit watery).

More mint and a touch of smoke with a thin/watery mouthfeel.

Some slight fizz on the center and sides of the tongue with some nondescript fruit notes… maybe some apricot.

A good bit of salt as we get closer to the end and a bit more [dried] fruit.

Finish Dry on the finish and I would venture to say there’s a bit of sweet creamed corn in here (an odd note).

In sum A nice older dram to get my nose on, that’s for sure.  Truth be told, while the nose was grand, I was let down by in the tasting of it.  I hoped/anticipated that the palate would have had the same confidence as the nose.  I guess I shouldn’t complain though.  I consider myself lucky to even have a chance to taste a whisky that was distilled before I was born (even if it was only by one year)!

Special thanks goes to Marshall N and the good folks at the LA Scotch Club for the sample!

Springbank 15yo – A whisky shelf must.

Campbeltown Region – 46%ABV –$75 – 90 | £44 | €50

I submitted the following to the Edinburgh Whisky Blog in the hopes to win a small sample of The Glenlivet 70yo.  My entry was among 13 favorites chosen by Lucas (one of the two fine chaps who run the blog, in case you’re not familiar…).  I had some tough competition and in the end did not win but hey, it was fun to write and I was happy to be chosen as one of Lucas’ favorites.

Here’s a link to all of the entries.

I’m reminded of a story my father once told about his trying to listen to, and appreciate, Bob Dylan. All of his friends were talking about this protest singer with a gravel-like voice that was telling it like it is. We’re talking circa 1964/65. He picked up two albums suggested to him by friends: “Bob Dylan” and “Freewheelin’”. He listened to these albums but could not get into it — he couldn’t understand what his friends liked about him. But he knew, from all of the praise about Bobby D, there had to be something. So, he listened to them over and over and over again and then realized that he kept playing them because he could not stop listening. He fell in love.

The story near mirrors my experience, from many years ago, with Springbank 15yo. It tasted like no whisky I’d had before and no whisky I wanted to have ever again. Yet EVERYBODY LOVED this whisky. There had to be something to it. I had to come back to it over and over again. It took me about 650 ml of my 750 ml bottle to fall in love. Now, it’s a staple bottle on my shelf (along side many other springers)! The moral is that it may not be the whisky that’s “bad” but our nose or palate that’s not ready for what it has to offer.

On the nose Flinty soil, coastal hay/grass and a good touch of tinned pineapple and fresh orange juice.

Smoked & oily whitefish – salty stuff!

Peat smoke and burning brush (so well integrated).

Apple juice and mulling spices… a bit waxy in scent as well.

A fun mix that can take a bit to get used to but all-in-all thoroughly enjoyable.

On the mouth This smacks of doused campfires and morning orange juice.

Candy/chalky wafers (yes, the Necco type).

Very sweet with notes of dried fruits (dates, mostly).

Even mouthfeel with both a juicy and tannic quality.

Browned lemons, grilled lemons and a bit of the fishiness I got on the nose.

Turnips and freshly paved roads.

Finish A slightly winey finish, tannic, long and notes of burnt wood.

In sum First & foremost, I threw a lot of scents and tasting notes out there for this one but I must try to express that on the whole; as a summation of all that’s going on here, this is uniquely “Springbank”.  Springbank is thoroughly unique and pretty damn unmistakable.  This is a good thing!  I’d enjoy this one as often as you could and keep it on your shelf – I do!