Springbank 14, 1997 (for K&L)

Springbank
Another official Springbank bottled for K&L
in California. This one is from a single refill madeira butt. I bought this because I am a fan of Springbank in general but more particularly because the old Springbank 11, 1997 Madeira Cask (a non-single cask general release) was a favourite before it disappeared. Looking at the colour of the whisky, however, I would guess that the 11 yo had a lot more first-fill madeira casks in the vatting. Either that or this single cask just happens to be from a refill butt that did not impart as much colour: in short, this is not as dark as its younger sibling bottled three years previous. But that’s not terribly interesting information in and of itself. Let’s see what this is like on the nose and palate.

Springbank 14, 1997 (56.8%, Refill Madeira Butt for K&L; from my own bottle)

Nose: Very coastal, by which I mean briny. Lots of spicy wood as well, and then some sweetness develops (sweet peat). I have to say that this smells like it came out of a bourbon cask. Quite a lot of alcohol burn on the nose, even though the abv isn’t that high. A little water takes the edge off the alcohol, but doesn’t do very much else. But with a little more time the brine recedes a little and balances nicely with the peaty sweetness.

SpringbankPalate: Not as hot on the palate as on the nose but certainly as briny on arrival. Then, as on the nose, a wave of sweetness passes over, bringing nutty notes (almonds, maybe cashews); some smoke too, but nothing very loud–in fact, it’s almost more musty leathery than smoky. Very nice mouthfeel. Not a whole lot of development though. Water doesn’t harm it but doesn’t do anything new for it.

Finish: Long’ish. Mostly salty and then smoky at the end. Gets a little sweeter with time. Less salty with water and a slightly bitter, rooty note at the very end.

Comments: Quite reminiscent actually of some recent Longrow 14 and 18 in its minerally, rather than smoky peatiness. Not, however, very reminiscent of the 11 yo madeira cask of yesteryear, which I remember as being richer and fruitier. This is not at all what I expected it to be, which is both educational and a little bit disappointing. In general, I would say that this is very pleasant and highly drinkable (water is optional) but not very much more–and there’s not a thing wrong with that. I might penalize some other whiskies for the lack of development but as I like this austere profile I’m fine with it here. Having said that, I actually liked it more tonight than I did 8 months ago when I opened it for a small group tasting with friends and also when I last tried it 3 months ago. The time has done something good for either my palate or the bottle or both. Or maybe the soul-withering fart one of my dogs let out right as I was first getting set to nose it rewired my brain in some way. So, two nice selections of Springbank in a row by the K&L Davids, Driscoll and Othenin-Girard. I guess I should scour their blog to see if there is any mention of more on the horizon.

Rating: 86 points (I had recorded 84 in my spreadsheet at my last tasting).

8 thoughts on “Springbank 14, 1997 (for K&L)

  1. Sadly, David Driscoll stated on a blog post (about a year ago) that Springbank is no longer offering any single casks for store/private selection due to increased demand. Basically every drop of Springbank, for the moment, is needed in the standard bottlings.

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  2. Hey MAO, thanks to the running theme of wistful longing for the old 1997 Madeira Wood that runs through many of your Springbank posts, I jumped on one lingering bottle of it that I recently uncovered at a store in Rhode Island. It came in the mail yeserday and I’m pretty stoked. Thanks for keeping the flame alive.

    You never reviewed that one, did you?

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    • Nice! I loved that bottling, too. My favorite of any wine-barrel Springbank/Longrow. Two things though: at the time it was tied with the most I’d spent on a bottle, and I hadn’t tried the (great) 12yr CS yet. Those two things may have been factors in my overwhelming enjoyment. I have 1 more unopened so I guess I’ll find out sometime.

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      • Patrick, your mention of the 12 CS brings up a good point—what should I plan for its sparring partner? No doubt the 12 would be a good choice, but you mention having had a few other wine-barrel Springbanks. Any suggestions?

        I don’t know of anything else along these lines on my local shelves, but I might seek something out on a recommendation. Who knows what those crafty Rhode Islanders are hiding in their (presumably tiny) liquor stores?

        Or, I already have a couple in my stash that could possibly do the job: Springbank 14 Fino CS OB, Springbank 10/100 (US 50% ABV version), or—at a stretch—Longrow Red (the Cabernet Sauvignon version). I’m reluctant to blow open all my good bottles at once, but I could do it if you think one of those would make the best comparison bottle.

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        • Ol’ Jas, IMO a ‘clean’ Springbank would be a good comparison malt. 10, 12 or your 10/100proof? The Marsala and Barolo weren’t great (I had only a pour or two of each) and I haven’t opened the Claret bottle I have.

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    • Well, I’m already starting to feel precious about it, so I might just save it for my 40th birthday in 2018, in which case I can start begging you for read-along notes in mid-2019 as I cling to my last few pours.

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