The old school charm of the malty and moderately-peated Springbank spirit meets the dense, dark punchbowl of heavy sherry. The result is exactly what you’d expect. Or exactly what I expected anyway: an almost oily, industrial smoky canvas with splashes of vibrant red and purple fruits thrown all over it.
Springbank has always used a substantial amount of sherry barrels in the maturation of its iconic single malts. The sherry brings a sweet edge and tempers the more organic heft that comes from the phenolic influence of the peating process. Don’t get me wrong, though, Springbank malts (excepting Longrow) are no peat monsters and temperance is not necessarily needed. It’s merely a twist to the tale. Smoke is integral, but it’s not the ‘be all, end all’ for Springbank. In fact, I’ve heard the distillery’s peating specs to be anywhere from 8-20 ppm, so as you can imagine this would be a bit of a featherweight when held up against some of the Islay malts from the Kildalton region.
But in this case the sherry notes are not merely a softening tool, but the entire raison d’etre. And it all works beautifully. I fell for this one at a festival the first time it was poured for me. It shone like a beacon against some of the rather dull and typical festival fare. And while it didn’t resonate quite as strongly when lined up against some beautiful old editions of SB21 and SB25 in a recent tasting we did here, it still more than held its own. A lovely whisky that brings a whole new dimension to the cabinet. Hopefully Springbank elects to make this a more readily available bottling, and not simply a one-off. I can see this one being in very regular rotation if that ever happens.
Nose: Sweet and creamy. Roman nougat. Lush and fruity. Deep sherry, as we’d expect. Dark cherry and plum. Dried cranberries, fresh out of the package. Oily smoke. Orange. Pepper. Earthy and organic. Kinda farmy and slightly peaty. A faint rubber note too.
Palate: Oily. Big viscous arrival. Pepper and peat and bucketloads of dark, dried fruity notes. Again, I’d use the word ‘lush’. Malt and hints of coffee. Leather saddles. Licorice. A coastal saltiness about it as well.
Thoughts: I keep thinking there may be just the vaguest note of sulphur flitting around in there, but when I try to nail it down, I can’t. So let’s just say this one is clean. Either way…love it.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt