These notes are much shorter than I normally write. I prefer to focus on a single bottle and marinate in the experience. Make sure to properly pickle the senses. I often spend 30-45 minutes with a pour rather than speed date. When I rush it, curse my broken nose, I do stupid shit like snort too hard and accidentally baste my sinuses with 53% alcohol. A good way to sanitize, but unpleasant. Which is an odd contrast given how quickly I eat dinner. My wife often complains I’ve finished an entire burrito before she’s managed to swallow her first bite. A travesty surely, but I won’t judge you when you mix wine and sprite. Or will I?!?
Whisky for me has been a glue that brings people together. Great stories with just the right amount of BS. A fascination with the art and the craft. And a lot of that passion lives in small whisky clubs scattered around the world.
The debacle that is Covid actually did something just a touch magical. It broke down a lot of geographical boundaries. It let a guy like me, who lives on a tiny island off the coast of Africa, suddenly get access to wander through the vaunted halls of liquid history. Magnus Fagerström, who runs a hell of a club out of Sweden and has more bottles than a large shop, has hand filled over 10,000 samples in the last year to connect people throughout the lockdowns. When the opportunity came to join his crew to share some old and rare Springbank bottlings, I was honored and delighted. Single cask, private barrels that have been in individuals hands for years. These are mostly from a small private whisky club in Belgium. No names as they wanted to remain private.
I Always Learn Something
Interesting trivia I learned while hanging with this crew, until about 6 years ago, access to these kinds of bottles was entirely based upon who you knew. The only real venue to buy/sell for individuals was whiskyauction.com, which was based in germany. And you could not legally sell private cask Springbank bottles in Germany due to labeling issues. Access to these is only coming online in the last few years. Rumor also has it that SMWS has sold all its Springbank casks. The US release last year was it. If they ever have any again, it will be purchased from a private owner.
There was not a bad bottle in the bunch. What was interesting was that color and age didn’t have anything to do with the winner. The darkest (15 year sherry cask Springbank) and oldest (30 year Longrow) were in the bottom half of the group favorite’s at the end. And the youngest at 11 years took second place.
The Group Vote
1. Longrow 1990, 18 yo
2. Springbank 1979, SMWS 11 yo
3. Springbank 1975, 25 yo
4. Longrow 1973, 30 yo
5. Springbank 2000, 18 yo
6. Springbank 1995, 15 yo
Between us, I’m guessing the number one spot got a bit of a gratefulness bump as it was the organizer’s own cask. And when you have to break a tie between amazingness, that is a perfectly reasonable way to go about it.
A thousand thank yous to IAAS and Magnus.
Springbank 2000 18 year #668 50.3%
A gentle pour. Well rounded, sweet, with few things to critique, super classic profits, but lacking the range of complexity that would make it stand out against this lineup.
Nose: butterscotch, salt spray, minerals, hints of citrus
Palate: soft palate with a chalky texture, green apple, a touch of brine.
Springbank SMWS 27.12 1979 11 year 57.2%
I would buy this if I ever find it. Funky and complicated with a long finish. It’s a bold pour.
Nose: funk, condensed milk, robust goat cheese, smoked oysters
Palate: fruity, milkyness, goat cheese, funk light peat
Finish : black pepper and rosemary cracker on the finish
Springbank 1995 15 year Private Owner sherry cask 57%
I kinda loved it despite the sulfur, which is a big deal given how sensitive I am. But that is also why it is a 6, as I could never own a bottle. It reminds me too much of hazelburn 14, which is a challenging dram. It is pitch dark, full of depth and moody. It is really a Glendronach is Springbank clothing.
Nose: sultanas, stewed prunes, sulfur
Palate: heavy sulfur, metallic, tannins / oaky, expresso beans, christmas cake, cloves lightest hint of salt
I rarely add water to things, but I’ll have to say that a dash of water really took the bitter notes down a notch.
Springbank 1975 25 year old Private Owner for ballroom boys sherry cask 49.4%
Just a lovely dram. The nose is captivating and the palate drinks far smoother than its proof. I would buy this any day.
Nose: ripe bananas, pipe tobacco, touch of leather, dunnage funk
Palate: well integrated smoke, sweet oats, apricot danish, leather, a touch of subtle bitter on the finish
Longrow 1990 18 year cask 178 Private Cask 54.1%
I really love the nose..
Nose: homemade caesar salad dressing or fish oil, hints of salt water taffy, figs, black currants
Palate: roasted red pepper chutney, BBQed vegetables, salt spray
Longrow 1973 30 Year Private Cask for FoD 50.1%
The nose and palate were quite different journeys. From sweet to savory. It’s a fun pour, and I’d love to hang with it for an evening and stroll down memory lane. But it’s not a game changer.
Nose: almond paste, orange zest, creme brulee, grilled pineapple,
Palate: chives,or bitter greens or broccolini, tobacco leaf, morrocan mint tea, thai green curry, and smokey smoke smoke for days. A well integrated pete without being whalloped.