Well, the last time I said my nose was back to normal I woke up the next day with it clogged again…but it has been two days in a row now that I have been able to taste and smell absolutely normally, and so here I am with a review of Springbank’s Calvados Wood release from a few years ago. As with many of Springbank’s Wood expressions (see also their Bourbon/Madeira cask, for example) this is genuinely double-matured and nothing like the finishes that bedevil so much of the rest of the industry. Indeed, this one spent 6 years in refill bourbon casks and then 6 years in fresh calvados casks.
I have a bottle of this myself but haven’t opened it yet—I’d wanted to get a better sense of calvados before doing so. Now I’m not suggesting that I have become a calvados expert in the interim but I have had more calvados in the last few months than I’d ever had before, and as luck would have it, Michael K. offered me a sample of the Springbank, allowing me to keep the bottle closed a little while longer as well. Well, let’s see what my minimal calvados experience brings to my experience of this whisky.
Springbank 12, 2000, Calvados Wood (52.7%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Malty, nutty, slightly briny with a bit of baked pastry and a hint of white pepper. No apples right off the bat. With time there’s some peat to go with the expanded pepper. With water there’s some vanilla and the peat gets a touch phenolic; some wet wool too now.
Palate: Very Springbank here with the brine and the leatheriness but softer than usual with some biscuity malt and cereals; some toasted oak as well. It’s also peatier than usual, though not overwhelmingly so. The peat expands as it sits: peppery and minerally and increasingly ashy but not particularly phenolic. The peat gets sweeter but also more peppery and certainly more intense with a drop of water, and it’s more coastal on the whole now.
Finish: Medium-long. The ashy peat and the sweeter, malty notes hang out for a bit transitioning into salt and pepper at the end, and is that finally a hint of something appley? Longer and as on the palate with water.
Comments: Well, I didn’t find this terribly calvados-influenced—in fact, if I didn’t know that it had spent half its life in calvados casks I probably wouldn’t have thought of it at all. It is very Springbank though, which is to say it is very good. Both peatier than the average Springbank and yet softer than the average Springbank—which is probably the doing of the calvados casks,
Rating: 87 points.