Springbank 21, 2013 Release

Springbank 21
I am a huge fan of Springbank’s whisky and the understated manner in which they sell it. I’m far less of a fan of the steadily increasing price we have to pay for this whisky in the US. Their importer in the past, Preiss Imports, took a lot of stick from whisky geeks for this. But, as I’ve noted before, it is apparently the case that, unlike many companies, Springbank do not discount their whisky for the US market in order to account for the three-tier markup (importer, distributor, retailer) and so their prices begin with a higher baseline. The truth of this seems to have been confirmed when the importer in the US changed recently and prices went even higher!

The Springbank 21, at least, costs a lot pretty much everywhere (as per Whiskybase, only 1680 bottles were released, which makes it genuinely limited). I can’t afford a full bottle–$400 for a 21 yo at 46% would be a stretch for me even if I were to ever pay $400 for a whisky. Luckily, I was able to buy some samples from the good lads of Whiskybase. Let’s get right to it.

Springbank 21, 2013 Release (46%; from purchased samples)

Nose: Polished wood, mild peat and some sweet fruity notes (plum, raisin). Gets quite leathery and then briny. With more time the plum and the leather intensify and meld and there’s some orangey notes in there too now along with a bit of spice (rye). Water pulls out some vanilla and some almondy notes and mutes the leather.

Palate: Very much as on the nose but not all in the same order: (fruity) sweet and briny to begin and then a turn to leathery, minerally peat and finally a more simple sweetness. Some crushed coriander seed. Very nice texture. Water makes it spicier and brighter (some lemon zest now); there’s also a woody sweetness that says pine to me.

Finish: Long. The sweetness washes out and then there’s mostly leather, peat, a bit of gunpowder, and a lot of salt. Much saltier with water.

Comments: Classic Springbank–classic contemporary Springbank, I mean (I can’t afford the stuff from earlier eras). A fair amount of sibling resemblance to some teenaged single casks I’ve had from various cask types; and not so very far away either from the current 18 yo in my opinion (though the sherry influence here is less rich and fruity). Very, very nice, but there’s nothing here to even remotely justify the price. I will say that even at 46% this packs quite a punch. I did prefer it without water.

Rating: 88 points.

8 thoughts on “Springbank 21, 2013 Release

  1. Sadly, your notes confirm my fears that I am going to love this (I too was lucky enough to get hold of a sample, the last one maybe even), but am never going to own a bottle.

    It’s wildly expensive here too (around the same $400 (in USD) price that you quote, which is a little odd as our prices (affected by the same triumvirate margin mark-up system as yours) are normally at least a third more expensive again) so I’ll never shell out that much cash for a bottle.

    I don’t hold Springbank’s pricing against them though. They uniformly produce and release quality stuff, minus all the bullshit that gets spouted and regurgitated by other distilleries these days (lets leave the bling-clad label of this particular bottle aside for the moment). It seems to me to be an “honest” business model, at least.

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  2. I suspect that, like me, you won’t find this to be so very different than more affordable bottles in their range.

    The particularly high price of this one, I hope, is due to there not having been a lot of casks put aside for this release. It’s possible, of course, that they will keep every future outturn low in order to artificially drive scarcity and a higher price but one can hope that future iterations will see larger numbers of bottles released at lower prices. Even with the 18 yo starting out very high in the US the jump to the 21 is rather dramatic.

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    • Yes, here too the 18YO is less than half the price of the 21YO.

      I guess there is a reason, too, as to why it has been so long in between releases of the 21YO. Were they shoring up supply? Or did they simply just not have enough?

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      • Springbank was silent from 1979 to about 89, so stocks were simply not available until recently to do older expressions.
        And yea, as much as I love Springbank, the new style doesn’t quite reach the heights of the old stuff unfortunately. Then again, there is constant rumours of vattings being regularly over-dressed at Springbank in the 80s & 90s….
        c.

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          • Sure.
            I assume you mean the ” vattings being regularly over-dressed” part ?
            The 80s & 90s weren’t exactly boom periods for whisky sales. So what do you do with old stocks if no one buys them ?
            I’m not sure what I would do… but Springbank chucked them in the vat for their standards (mutiple casks are combined/vatted for a bottling, usually defined by the master blender, or by a toss of coins… :D), and the Springbank 21yo at times, has had +30yo casks added to the vat as there was no/very little 21yo stock at times. Which means they chucked some glorious casks from the 70s or maybe even late 60s into the mid/late 90s standard bottling of the 21yo standard. Which partially explains why those bottlings occasionally were mindblowingly good, and now go for 500 Euros plus on the secondary market.
            c.

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  3. I have not yet been able to appreciate the Springbank qualities that everyone loves. I’m plenty experienced and I like complex and “difficult” flavors, but the 10yr and 15yr OBs haven’t done it for me yet. I’ll have to try the 18yr sometime.

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