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.