Springbank 16, 1997, Bourbon/Madeira

Springbank 16, 1997, Bourbon/Madeira
This is the Springbank whose existence Ol’ Jas denied over Easter weekend. Springbank has released a few madeira casks in the past. I’ve previously reviewed a 14 yo single cask that was a K&L exclusive. I liked it but not as much as the old 11 yo (which I have not reviewed yet on account of a reluctance to open my last bottle). Both of those and this one are from 1997 but obviously not from the same set of casks: those were full-term matured in madeira casks whereas this one was matured for the first 10 years in refill bourbon casks and then for the last six years in fresh madeira casks. So, obviously it’s not a finish either; more like true double maturation. Springbank seem to be the only distillery that does this kind of double maturation as a matter of course (they’re also probably the only distillery that doesn’t make a lot of silly noise about these kinds of releases). And probably because they do double maturation and not quick finishes their wine cask releases tend to be really well integrated with the usual distillery profile.   

Springbank 16, 1997 (56%; cask 07/178-3; from a bottle split)

Nose: Toffee, mild wood smoke, oak, milky coffee and a lot of salt. The wood expands and has a sort of immature edge to it. With more time and air the wood backs off and it’s mostly the toffee and coffee cream to the fore now. Much better with water: quite a bit of citrus now (lemon) and it’s less sweet and better balanced.

Palate: Thankfully, it’s not woody at all on the palate; what it is is very Springbank: not much sign of the wine cask here; instead there’s leather, brine, mineral sweetness and a hint of mustard seed. Nice velvetty mouthfeel. Sharper on the second and third sips with some rock salt along with the leather. Water pushes back the sharpness, pulls out more of the brine and leather.

Finish: Medium-long. The leather and brine fade out with quite a bit of cracked pepper showing up late. With more time there’s more oak here as well. Longer with water and spicier.

Comments: Not a million miles from that refill madeira cask from K&L. This makes me wonder now if the 10 years in refill bourbon came after the 6 years in fresh madeira. In which case this might have started out in the same batch of casks as those other 1997 madeira casks. Anyway, quite nice but not a profile particularly out of the ordinary for Springbank.

Rating: 87 points.

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