Springbank 14, 1998, Fino Cask 265

Springbank 14, 1998, Fino Cask
Here is the companion whisky to Monday’s bourbon barrel Springbank 14. This has been promised for a long time and occasional commenter, Ol’ Jas can now die happy as all his dreams have come true.

In 2008’ish Springbank released a series of 12 yo’s from different types of sherry casks. These were all distilled in 1996. If memory serves the cask types were fino, oloroso, cream sherry and an amontillado. I’ve reviewed that oloroso cask on the blog; I still haven’t opened my bottle of the fino from that series; I finished my bottle of the cream sherry before I started the blog but I think I have a reference sample stashed somewhere—I never did taste/corral the amontillado. A few years later they released this 14 yo series in the same vein, with a manzanilla cask taking the place of the cream sherry. Once upon a time I was supposed to split the other bottles in the series with some other whisky geeks but I guess that fell through. So this fino cask will probably be it for me from this series: the 16 yo casks that followed this lot cost almost twice as much as these did so please do not expect to see those reviewed here. 

Springbank 14, 1998 (55.3%; fino cask 265; from my own bottle)

Nose: Salt right off the top with dried orange peel right behind; a light lick of smoke and a hint of leather and then rich fruity notes develop: plum sauce, marmalade, apricot jam; a bit of dark chocolate with cracked pepper as well. Gets stickier as it goes with raisins, brown sugar and a bit of date. With more time there’s a hint of gunpowder but it works really well here. With even more time the gunpowder morphs into pipe tobacco. A few drops of water releases notes of pencil lead/graphite and makes the whole earthier.

Palate: The leather is to the fore here along with the citrus (a bit brighter on the palate) and salt. Gets richer as it goes but the citrus keeps the other fruit at bay. The savoury gunpowder shows up here as well with time and the plum sauce begins to peek out. The salt is now more in the soy sauce family. Water doesn’t bring out much that’s new but intensifies everything that was there before.

Finish: Long; the apricot from the nose emerges at the end. As on the palate with water—with perhaps more salt now.

Comments: I have to say this is better than almost every recent single cask Glendronach I’ve had. Wonderful balance. More of the fruit on the palate and it would be pushing towards 90 points. Now, has anyone had a Springbank from a PX cask/finish?

Rating: 88 points.

8 thoughts on “Springbank 14, 1998, Fino Cask 265

  1. Fantastic. Thanks, MAO. (For non-whisky reasons, though, please give me two more days on earth before my pleasant demise.)

    This sounds great: leather, citrus, salt. And good gunpowder? This might turn out to be my first whisky with a strong gunpowder element. I’ll look for it when I open mine, which I’m now considering doing for my birthday.

    It’s been a few months now since I bought my bottle and seached out info, but I recall the coverage was pretty scant—scant enough to make this review a big addition to the noise. Mostly multiple reviews on Connosr all from the same colorful character and the original 2011 announcement of this series on the Whisky Advocate blog:

    For what it’s worth, I bought the last bottle on my local shop’s shelf less than a year ago for $95. Ignoring quality and going just on spec, that seems like quite the good prices in today’s market for an age-stated single-cask 14 YO single malt from Scotland’s craftiest distillery.


      • No. It’s a perennial “birthday bottle” for me, but then I always decide to open something else instead – or just not drink whisky on my birthday at all.

        I recently finished off a Springbank 12 CS, though, which now leaves (gasp!) no open Springbanks on my shelf. That’s a rare state of affairs that I’ll probably correct before too long – and the 14 Fino is the only Springbank in my unopened stash. The clock’s ticking.


  2. For what it’s worth, I bought the last bottle on my local shop’s shelf less than a year ago for $95. Ignoring quality and going just on spec, that seems like quite the good prices in today’s market for an age-stated single-cask 14 YO single malt from Scotland’s craftiest distillery

    Yes, especially when you consider what is being charged for the newer, slightly older ones in the series.


    • Right?!?!?

      Their “basic” whiskies (the 10, 12CS, and 15) seem to have held pretty steady over the past few years as I’ve been paying attention, but their “special” releases have really skyrocketed. I’d be completely shocked now to find a teenage single-cask cask-strength Springbank for anything close to $100.


  3. I finally opened mine for my 40th birthday a couple months ago, and I’m drinking it tonight with your review in front of my. There’s surely some power of suggestion at work, but all the sweeter notes you call out are really helping me appreciate its sweeter side.


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