After starting the month with a review of a Karuizawa and then going on a run of whiskies above the age of 25, it is time for me to return to reality. What better way to do that than with a bottle from one of the most down-to-earth distilleries in Scotland, still producing whisky that can hold its own with that made in more storied eras. Yes, Springbank remains the gold standard in the world of single malt whisky. And the Springbank 12 cask strength, released in batches, is one of the most consistently good Springbanks there is. Lots of sherry influence without being a sherry bomb and lots of earthy, briny notes that remind you which distillery it is from. I have previously reviewed Batch 7 and Batch 14 (spoiler alert: I liked them both a lot). Here now is
Batch 16 Batch 13 (see below), which is what seems to be currently available in Minnesota. By the way, the labels don’t say anything about batches. To find out which batch the bottle you are staring at is from you have to make note of the abv and then go to Whiskybase and see which batch that corresponds to. But unless you’re looking for a specific batch you should know that you are unlikely to be disappointed by any batch of the Springbank 12 CS.
Springbank 12 CS, Batch 13 (56.3%; from my own bottle)
Nose: A pungent mix of saddle leather, brine, sweet organic peat and dried orange peel and mushrooms. In other words, very Springbank. Underneath lie brighter notes of citrus and ham and hoisin sauce. Brighter with a dash of water with citronella and then a big wave of camphor, sackcloth and coriander seed.
Palate: The sherry is far more apparent here as sweet notes of apricot jam and orange peel rise quickly past the peat and leather and brined ham. With time there’s some savoury gunpowder (the good kind). Very drinkable at full strength but I think this needs some water. Water pushes the gunpowder back and brings out prickly pepper to go with the citrus and brine. Brighter here too with water.
Finish: Long. The brine and dried fruit go on together for a while with a bit of bitter oak coming in bracingly as it goes. Saltier with water.
Comments: This is very good. Then again, has there ever been a bad Springbank 12 CS? I’d like to see it $15 cheaper (I paid in the neighbourhood of $75) but that’s my only complaint. “Darker” neat, “brighter” with water: which you like more may depend on the mood and the weather.
Rating: 88 points.
I’ve paid much more for whiskies that were no where near the quality of this stuff. Thanks for the review. Love the hoisin sauce note, will have to look for that next time.
MAO, I believe you have batch 13 not 16. The new labels began with batch 14. It looks like both 13 & 16 are 56.3%- the main difference being the labels.
Aha! It turns out I literally do not know what I am talking about.
I am almost done with this bottle and it has been a delight from beginning to end. Tonight I’m thinking it might deserve another point or two.